She always starts out her day so happy. She's got this crazy curly blonde hair that makes for some pretty funny bedhead. When she walks down the steps in the morning, I always make a big fuss over her, because I know it's a matter of minutes before she's going to fall apart and the tantrums will begin.
I'm going to choose the wrong color cup. I won't get her breakfast cereal fast enough. I'll check my text or answer the phone or finish reading a paragraph, all things she cannot deal with at the ripe old age of THREE.
So if I have my head in the game, I'll quickly say,
"Good Morning Sunshine! I love you SO much! I missed you while you were sleeping! Let me hold you. Can I hug you? Let me kiss those cheeks!"
And about 10 minutes later, oh who am I kidding, about 2 minutes later, the tantruming begins.
Today was Lukey's birthday, my nephew's birthday, a friend's birthday, one of our favorite teacher's birthday, so we had a LOT of phone calls to make and to receive. Miss Ella can't deal with momma being on the phone. Miss Ella doesn't like momma doing anything that isn't all about Miss Ella.
She fussed and fussed and fussed and fussed through every call. I try to do what Mike does and say, "If you want to cry, go to your room and cry" she RUNS when "HE" says it, but when I told her to go, she told me NO and kept on hollering!
It's frustrating. Toddlers can make ya crazy. I know. I know. "Just wait until she's a teenager" you older moms will say. But I'm still learning how to deal with toddlers. No doubt that teenagers years will be tough, but DANG! toddlers can suck the life right out of you.
She's my fourth, my second STRONG-WILLED-CHILD, so there is one thing I've learned. Some days, you've gotta dig deep to find the GOOD and just treasure the joyful moments. If you aren't careful, you'll completely miss making them.
Today we were at the pool, talking to Lilly's teacher about 6th grade and wishing her a happy birthday. Miss Ella kept yelling at me, "Take off your shirt. Take off your shirt. Get in the baby pool. Get in the baby pool." She knew there was nowhere for me to go to get away from the constant whining, and she took full advantage! She's smart like that.
It wasn't long until I had to say, "She's at her wits end, I've gotta go." Although honestly, I wanted to talk to her all day.
By this point in the morning, it felt like I'd already had a lifetime worth of whining in my ears. It's that feeling where you think you're head's just going to explode with frustration. Sweating. Anxiety. Anger, even.
And then I remembered, we let her stay up way too late, (AGAIN!) decorating for Lukey's birthday. Tired babies make irritable babies. In all reality, her fussiness was mostly my own fault. I ALWAYS pay the piper when I fail to get them to bed early.
She got really happy again at the pool when she realized I was off the phone, that everyone could get in, and she had my full attention. She swam around with her little floaty on, absolutely cute as can be. She was wearing her crab puddle jumper, her lavender ruffled mermaid swimsuit, and the happiest little smile with her two big dimples.
All the anger and frustration just melted away. I could have easily stayed frustrated with her for wrecking another phone call and fussing the morning away. But staying mad doesn't help anyone. Not me. Not her. Not her siblings.
I switched my heart to gratitude for her. For what a gift she is to our family, even though her toddler years have not been easy! We laughed and talked and played in the water together. I made a big fuss about how she looked just like a Mermaid and how proud I was of her for kicking up her feet and using her floaty in the water. I made the decision that even though I knew she'd be fussing again within minutes, that we were going to enjoy a few fun minutes together at the pool.
It wasn't long before she revved back up, crying to go home. And then she revved back up again at the kitchen table, not happy with the drink that she was served.
I snagged her up to put her down for her nap and she did the whole back arch, you- cannot- make -me- sleep tantrum. "I'm going to play pirates with Buddy!" she fussed and fussed.
He said, "How about momma reads us a book together?" and that made her happy.
I read them Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon, and they laughed and laughed at the story and illustrations. It was another moment where I had to just stop and count my blessings, for laughter, for good books, for the gift of babies to raise, and for older siblings who often have the exact cure for her fussiness.
We closed up the book, rocked her to sleep, put her down in her bed, and thanked God for nap time! Seriously, sleep was one of God's best ideas. Those small breaks in life are EVERYTHING!
If you are a mom to a fussy toddler, a rebellious teen, really anyone who can DRIVE YOU NUTS, try to adopt a forgiveness mindset. Look for the good. Celebrate the good. Embrace the times that are calm and sweet and happy. No one is going to give you that gift but yourself. If you are like me, you really have to work towards it, especially when life gets crazy and early bedtimes don't happen or life just is, well, life.
Make an effort to say first to yourself and then to the other person, "I love you so much. I appreciate you so much. I am so thankful for you."
Everyone longs to be loved.
Fussy toddlers. Teenagers. Grown-ups.
Who can you unconditionally love and forgive today in spite of their flaws? Their fussiness. Their mistakes. Their decisions.
I think most of my life I have had a mindset of, I will love you and be kind to you IF/WHEN you are doing what is pleasing to me, which really isn't too loving at all. Every single day I need to remember to love people even when they aren't perfect, just as I am NOT. Especially the precious little people who I have been entrusted with to raise.
The gift of forgiveness and unconditional love will be so precious to YOU and to the people around you. It will without a doubt increase your JOY in the Chaos, you just have to CHOOSE it....again and again and again. Seek it. Seeks moments of gratitude for where you are and what you have, even though nothing or no one around you is perfect.
Ephesians 4:32 says, Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Kind. Tenderhearted. Forgiving.
Kind. Tenderhearted. Forgiving.
Kind. Tenderhearted. Forgiving.
Holy Spirit. Please fill me with these traits as I go through my day today! Don't let me miss an opportunity to love and forgive, even if/when things aren't going my way!