It’s happened. I remember a few weeks ago when I was changing Brooks’ diaper… that he sort of arched his back and tried to squirm away from me. I kindly tickled him, turned him over, and he acquiesced. But then… just this week, he didn’t acquiesce. Instead, he squirmed and wriggled and tried to get away from me while slamming his pudgy little hands on the ground and grunting at me. “Ahem. Say what?”
What happened to my sweet little baby? Can anyone relate? That very moment when you realize Oh Snap! He’s not a little baby anymore! is so humbling. You had your first kid and you realized they weren’t perfect in a similar fashion. But then the second kid comes around and you think, again, so naively, They’re going to be the sweetest! They’re going to be different! And then they aren’t. And you are slapped in the face with reality and it comes in the form of a kick to the stomach or whack to the face.
And then though, miraculously, you’re home with food poisoning. (Ok this was literally me on Sunday after Thanksgiving.) You’re strung out on the couch while Daddy does dinner, dishes, and puts kids to bed. And your toddler, you know–the one who’s been bossing you around like it’s her job? She’s rubbing your forehead, giving you hugs and kisses, and singing you songs. She’s saying “Mama you’re not feeling so much?” And you remember those moments where she once squirmed from you when you tried to change her diaper.
You remember the time she fitted in the kitchen and threw a stuffed animal in the air at the tender age of 14 months. You think back to yesterday when she sat on the floor in your car and refused to get in her carseat before work. But then… this precise moment happens and all those bad ones are erased. You look at her and think to yourself: She’s listening. She’s watching. She’s learning from me. And your heart melts into a thousand pieces and you awe and marvel at her. Because you know that she learned it from you. And then you look at him and you think: Someday I’ll say the same things about you, too.
I know those unfortunate and trying moments will continue to come and test my patience and sanity. But I also know that this had to have been part of God’s plan when he created children. That they would test us, yet in turn they would learn the notably awesome qualities we teach them as well: Kindness, Love, Respect, Tenderness, and Sensitivity–the list goes on. And then we would look at ourselves and remember that we are their models and to continue to demonstrate these qualities as often as humanly possible–particularly when they make mistakes. I know that they still love me when I make mistakes, so it’s only fair to show that in return.
And in those moments, where you see those qualities shine through, hug them. Tell them how proud it makes you to see them demonstrate those qualities. Remind them you’ll continue to do the same for them when they are sick. That you’ll be there to support them no matter what. Because even in those moments where you realize they aren’t babies anymore and they’re going to test your patience in new and unprecedented ways, just around the corner is that unexpected affection and sweetness that erases those bad moments away. I promise.
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