She had the most angelic sweetheart lips. Eyes blue as the most tranquil oceans. Blonde crazy hair. Chubby cheeks begging to be kissed over and over. Little hands that instinctively curled around my finger while simultaneously melting my heart.
Pure sweetness wrapped in a pink blanket.
And then came the day this little creature pursed those lips, gripped the toy in her hand, tilted her massive hair and screamed, "Mine! Mine! Mine!"
The fuss was over a small red toy my friend had let her borrow. My friend who was much more organized than me. She had brought along toys and baggies of Cheerios to keep the kids entertained during our coffee date. The plan to use this toy as temporary entertainment had worked beautifully. Until it was time to go.
I could feel a burning flush of frustration and hoisted my kicking and screaming daughter out of her plastic highchair. And then in slow motion, I watched in horror as she continued to scream, whine & wouldn't eat or stop until she received what she wanted.
I felt my fragile identity as a mom melt into the puddle of spilled tears & anger. What happened to my angel? My beautiful daughter was ... not so angelic.
It's been many years since those days.
But oh how I wish I could go back and sit with my little inexperienced mommy self trying to fix it all.
I would say, "Your daughter is a child in need of a parent. She needs to be taught. And some of your best teaching opportunities will come when she puts her nature on display. Don't fear or fret or feel like this is some sort of failure on your part. Her outside demonstrations are an internal indication of her need for guidance. So guide her. Love her. And always remember to be the parent. Not her friend. Not her buddy. The parent."
"Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn
That daughter is no longer a baby. We've had our moments but we love each other and it's no longer, "Mine, mine!" It's giving to her sisters and brother when they need to talk to their sister.
But growing her up wasn't always easy. There were many more times when she put her nature on display. And each time I had to choose to be the parent.
It's not easy to be the parent. It seems less and less popular to tell kids no. Glory knows I've been so imperfect.
Even in those seasons where you feel as if they're doing everything the opposite of what you've taught them. All that parenting is in them. And the fruit of that will emerge one day.
Yes, be the parent.