It’s ok. You can admit it. Raising children has its fair share of challenges. In spite of the numerous books, magazines, and freely given (whether welcomed or not) advice, there is no “How-To” book designed specifically for your child. So why is it so hard sometimes to admit when we’ve hit a rough patch? Maybe it’s because parenting comes with so many labels, and we’re trying too hard to live up to some standard that they set. A “good” parent is loving, kind, nurturing, patient, prepared, intuitive, etc. But what if you’re not always this cool, calm and collected mommy that makes everything look so easy? What if your baby, toddler, pre-teen, teen or adult child gets on your nerves sometimes? What if you have a moment or two (or more) that push you to your wit’s end? Does this make you the bad guy? No. I’d say it makes you human, and I certainly had a very “human” afternoon today.
This morning started off like any other. Alexandra and I had our quality time together, then we headed out to get my hair done. I was looking forward to some pampering and I prayed that my daughter would cooperate. She didn’t sleep through the 2 and a half hour appointment like she did 6 weeks ago, and she was the center of attention with her bubbly personality. She smiled and cooed and smiled some more. She talked and laughed out loud. I was so proud of her patience with mommy and we happily journeyed home in time for my lunch and her nap. She fell asleep in the car and remained peaceful as I brought her upstairs into our apartment. Excited by her cooperation, and truly feeling beautiful for the first time in a while, I decided to take a picture of myself. Just one picture.
After the hundreds I’ve taken of her I thought this would be permissible, but she awoke with plans of her own. My sweet, resting baby was suddenly putting on her best Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde impersonation, as she let out blood-curdling screams! “Please Alexandra. Let mommy take her picture ok? It’ll only be a moment then I’ll be right there.” EEEEEH. Wrong answer! “Ok baby, here I come.” So I scooped her up and ran through the gamut of soothing activities. Finally she was calm and I was free to finish my ill-conceived photo plan. I quickly snapped a suitable shot before the shrill cries rang out again, but it was too late and I couldn’t take it anymore. Between the challenges I was having with my camera phone, my rumbling stomach that had long-since devoured my meager breakfast, and her outbursts of discontentment, I’d had enough!! I raised my voice in despair and asked her the question she could not yet answer in words. “What is it that you want?!?!!” She then let out a long, sad whimper I’d never heard before, and my anger quickly dissipated.
I was now holding Alexandra close to my heart, and gently stroked her hair as I prayed and rocked back and forth. I felt absolutely terrible, and I don’t know how I managed to hold back my tears of guilt and shame. I couldn’t believe I allowed myself to get so frustrated. My precious child rarely has moments like this, and I knew she was simply tired and restless since she’s been experiencing the growing pains of teething. I recognized that her being the life of the party at the hairdresser’s was not some evil plot to lure me into a false sense of security, and I asked the Lord to give me just a measure of the strength He uses to deal with my fits and fussiness. I deeply exhaled, regrouped, and was once again ready to cater to my baby’s every need.
As if to test my sincerity, I was forced to tackle a cataclysmic diaper change within minutes of my meltdown. World War III had occurred on the changing table and all over my little one’s clothes. I rushed her to the bathtub, carrying her like an explosive bomb, all the while trying to figure out how she got poop in her underarms! As she splashed in the water I had to laugh. She looked at me with her precious smile and her thoughts seemed to read “this is the life of a baby mom.” I realized I’d be missing these moments one day, so I cleaned her up and thanked God for reminding me to count it all joy.
The rest of my day wasn’t a cakewalk, and finishing this post has brought me into the wee hours of the night. But I’m glad I had a day like today with its challenges and wide range of emotions. I’m glad because Holy Spirit had yet another opportunity to teach me something and I plan to hold onto what I’ve learned. I’m doing my very best with Alexandra. I won’t always have the day I’ve planned for in my head, or have the chance to complete the tasks I’ve been longing to finish, but if I can find the good in a frustrating situation I’m a success in my own right. Thank you Father for this refreshing outlook and I embrace the many more to come!!
How do you react in frustrating situations?
Do you believe there’s a lesson to be learned in every circumstance?