Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Great Mystery of Motherhood

It dawned on me today that one of the greatest mysteries of motherhood is simultaneously loving your child so much that you'd lay down your life for her in a nanosecond while at the same time wanting to smack that same child into next week. (Of course, I would never act upon that second impulse, but sometimes the mental image does help to bring my boiling blood down a degree or two.)

The latest darling thing that has been working on my nerves is Amber wanting something and not wanting it at the same time. This happens daily in a number of situations, much like this scenario:

Amber: "I want some juice."
Me: (Pouring juice and handing cup to Amber.)
Amber: "Uh-uh." (crosses arms across chest and closes eyes, as if sight of the juice makes her ill.)
Me: "Ok then." (Takes juice back to fridge.)
Amber: (screaming) "JUUUUUUUUUUIIIICEEE!!!"
Me: "Here then." (hands cup back)
Amber: "Uh-uh." (Crosses arms again, etc.)

This little scenario would repeat itself indefinitely if I kept offering and retracting the juice cup. And she does it with anything---wants to brush teeth but won't open mouth, wants to walk but sits on ground when put down, wants a toy but won't take it when offered. Annoying, to say the very least!

Unfortunately, the only way to end this stupid cycle is to let the kid scream her guts out for a few minutes till she breaks down and stops acting like a fool. Whenever she does one of this "yes-no" numbers, it's always a downer because I know Amber Volcano must erupt to move past this. I'm hoping for a short-lived phase...

And here's where I came to my great paradox--loving a child so completely and simultaneously wanting to throttle her. I'm sure when she was a baby I could never DREAM of ever even THINKING about hurting my kid, and I used to worry that perhaps there was something really wrong with me. But I have to come to realize that all moms probably reach that level of frustration at some point with their defiant toddler. I just consider these events an exercise in patience for me, while at the same time a means to shape the behavior and character of a developing little person.

Whenever we have tantrums, fits, and fallouts, I try to focus on the big picture. Without ever crossing the line, how else would this child learn what behavior is acceptable and what is not? And fighting these battles now will be better than trying to fight them years down the road...

But the hard part is having to sometimes scrape the bottom of the barrel to come up with the energy and patience to remember that in the moment! Which is why I sometimes find myself yelling out "Lord, give me strength!" in the midst of one of these moments! I'm just waiting for the day one of the girls starts repeating that one back to me!