This past weekend Frank had to report to his unit during the day. I was solo parenting between 10-12 hours each day. I was managing, overwhelmed as I’m adjusting to the new family dynamic (3 to 4 people), but managing nonetheless. I made it to church on time. Yup, I was feeling pretty accomplished.
Then service concluded and I went to retrieve my eldest. Enter failure.
The leader informed me that, “we” need to work on Willow’s socialization. She is taking toys away from other kids and not respecting personal space. Other kids react with being aggressive. Not knowing how to react I simply said, “Perhaps she’ll learn to not take toys if she gets hurt…it’s ok.” I thought this behavior normal for my daughter’s stage of life. Regardless, I do tell her not to take things without asking. I am working on this. Perhaps I read too much into this volunteer’s tone, but I felt like she was saying I am not correcting disrespectful behavior.
Now, I don’t mean this to be a gossip post. Maybe just by saying that it feels like it is. Understand that this is less about her and more about me processing my surging emotions. (Like the fear that my husband could potentially be transferred back to his old unit and deployed for 9 months and I’d be left as a single mother to two under two. God’s strength is perfect in our weakness, but I’d rather he not test me like that.)
I feel like a failure frequently. Combine these feelings with postpartum hormones and a sin struggle with approval addiction and you can wind up with a toxic concoction. Anyways, I choked back the tears as I gathered the bags together and slugged my way to the cafe.
Willow climbed up next to another kid and took a blueberry from this child’s plate and ate the blueberry. I corrected Willow as the floodgates opened and tears gushed out. Asking a friend to supervise my toddler, I excused myself to another room.
I’m told that I shouldn’t take to heart what others say. I know this. I shouldn’t. We need only to listen to the individuals in our lives who are trying to build us up in the Lord. While I’ve seen this volunteer and talked briefly, I honestly don’t know her too well. I shouldn’t put so much stock into her brief critique. I do though. I’m praying that I make strides in confidence and breaking approval addiction, but it is hard. (This is where I start to feel like I haven’t repented or prayed enough in regards to breaking this struggle. I get the sense that this is what church congregants, in my circle, would tell me. (Probably untrue, or they would say, but I feel this way nonetheless.)
I’m here to let other parents, especially moms, know that you are doing the best you know how to do.
Toddlers each have their own personality. Kids will absorb behaviors from other kids we don’t want them to learn. We can either isolate our kids or let them navigate community, communication, and conflict. Yes we are to correct when needed, but we need to understand that just because a child is acting a particular way this does not indicate a deadbeat, helicopter, or free-range parent. Nurture plays a role in a child’s mannerisms, but we must remember that nature is involved too.
Toddlers learn boundaries and socialization by interacting and learning responses from others. A one year old has such infractions as taking toys, hitting, biting, running, yelling, and having tantrums. Yes, parents should correct behavior (even if it is merely seen as faulty as a result of current societal norms), but there is only so much a parent can do.
I’m here to let you know that more often than not, parents are doing the best they can. Parents are correcting their kids and are frustrated with disobedient children, even when the public eye seems to think otherwise. A parent often knows what their kid needs to work on more than others.
Keep pressing on parents. Watch your children. Understand that sometimes they are going to do something until they grow out of a particular developmental phase. Your child’s actions are not always a result of your parenting style. Kids have personalities. We can try and mold their responses and actions, but they have a mind of their own too.
You are doing the best you know how to do with the resources you’ve been given. Don’t let others tell you how you should parent. They don’t live in your family, they don’t understand your dynamic. Now, realize I have to speak this rhetoric to myself. These words are my current refrain as I try to drown out the naysayers. As I feel I’m yelling too much, crying too much, and just plain too tired, I’m trying to tell myself that I am an adequate mother. God has given me the opportunity to parent these children because he trusts them WITH me.
It isn’t postpartum yet. This transition is still too new to truly tell. I’m trying and often feeling lost, but the Lord is carrying me through (footprints poem…I need to remember). (Bad grammar…another pet peeve and intensifying the failure feeling.)
God is carrying us all through.
Let us support and encourage one another as we try to lead our children in the way everlasting.
*FYI, any huge grammar mistakes, typos, and unclear structures are a result of “mommy brain.” (I never realized how real it was until I had two kids…like mistaking my dentist appointment a day early, but that’s a post for another day.)