Up until I was thirty, I would never have described myself as a “kid person.” To be honest, I just didn’t like anybody else’s kids besides those in my own family- and even then, it was only if they were behaving. After I turned thirty, I actually had the desire to become a mother, which probably shocked my family. After becoming a mother, my sentiments about other people’s kids haven’t changed much, with a few exceptions. I fiercely love my two daughters, but dang, sometimes it’s hard to like them when they aren’t acting the way I want them to. It’s a good thing they’re cute, I half-jokingly tell myself.
Now that I’m out of the dark postpartum period, I absolutely love being a mom. Most days. I’m full of joy, laughter, energy, and fun. My girls, in return, smile, laugh belly laughs, play sweetly together, and have fun. All of this happens with minimal crying, whining, back talking, or yelling. The same is true for my one and three-year-olds. A few months ago, there were some mornings when I’d woken up to the sound of my baby Autumn, crying, instead of to my alarm clock thirty minutes early. Instead of being able to get ready, drink coffee, and read my Bible and journal alone, I was brushing my teeth while Autumn played at my feet, and my older daughter, Noelle, was rummaging through my bathroom drawers, pulling out all my makeup or high heels, or playing on the toilet that was borderline clean. I couldn’t seem to balance my attention bestowed on my girls to either of their satisfaction. I felt behind all day, and Noelle could feel my weakness and frustration, and seemed to pounce on it. She did exactly what I told her not to do. I would feel ashamed at how I’d flipped out and yelled, which did nothing but lose any credibility of in-control-parenting. A few neighbors walked by as they took their well-behaved dogs for walks and witnessed such dramatic scenes outside. My face got hot and I became angry with Noelle for “making me” yell and act a fool, embarrassed that my sparkling eyed, ginger-haired cherub was actually a spicy, sassy, and stubborn nearly three-year-old.
By the time my husband came home from work, I wanted to pass Noelle off to him so that I could be done with her for the day, and keep my docile Autumn for myself. Noelle and I had spent too much time together, and we needed a break. There were some nights I broke down and cried at the utter lack of patience, control, and/or discipline I exerted that day, as my pediatrician husband explained that she was just trying to get my attention. Hearing that actually broke my heart. I didn’t want this constant struggle to be normal. I really felt like there was a battle raging for my relationship with my daughter. So I prayed. Hard. And clung to the truths in the Bible that confirmed that my identity was in my Creator. Not in how well (or how badly) I felt I parented.
Noelle started going to preschool two days a week, which was a huge blessing that an opening came up in March. Since then, my postpartum has disappeared and Noelle has grown up. So has baby Autumn. All three of us are now starting the summer off a little older and wiser (and I’m so much more stable emotionally) than we were six months ago. While there have been (and still are) times Noelle has made me so frustrated, she is my heart, my girl. Her excitement can’t be contained inside her tiny chest. She still nearly cries with joy at seeing her 11-year-old friend playing outside, Katelyn’s name choked out between happy sobs. It makes me want to swell up and cry at her precious heart. That pure, unjaded, excitement for people is such a gift that only innocent children carry. As her momma, I hope and pray that she keeps it forever. It breaks my heart knowing that my girls will inevitably be disappointed and hurt by others, intentional or not. But my prayer is that they won’t allow their sweet spirits to become broken and shut down. I pray for their hearts, that they would be immune to the taste of the carelessness of others, the first of many inevitable arrows to come. My prayer is this: Please, dear Jesus, do not ever let my words or actions be arrows, but salve.