March 5, 2013

entering two with patience

With the coming and going of each season, I now find myself thinking back on the one before.  The changes happen so quickly with babies.  I often look between my two boys and am in awe at the difference only a short 15 months can make.

I am in awe of the many things I haven't needed to teach them.  I heard it once said that, "everyone needs to have two babies.  Because you think you did it all with the first one, and then the second one comes along and you realize how much it wasn't you."

I have a boy who is turning TWO this month.  A mere two years ago he was still kicking my ribs and we were planning for a birth that would go completely differently than I had planned.  But today he is running, and jumping, and talking about chop-choo trains and tractors and bulldozers and says "please" and "thank you, mama" and melts my heart with his mischievous smile.

Oh, the mischief.

Did I say that we are nearing TWO?

You never quite know what you are going to get.  And I know it's not his fault, it is just being two.  An answer of "no" may get a calm and acceptable response, or it might get an all-out kicking and screaming-bloody-murder, terrible-twos tantrum.

These are the teachable moments.

For him, yes, but mostly for me.

For him, I believe that this is mostly a stage that will pass.  Of course I try to teach him acceptable responses to anger, to use his words instead of screaming, and to make good choices.

But he doesn't have to take me with him into those tantrums.  Oh, how often I realize that I, too, want to stomp my feet and demand my way with an attitude and heart not all that different from my two-year-olds.  But the problem with this is not only the juvenile behavior, but the way this attitude effects how I view my child.  My heart is no longer in a position to teach and love when I let frustration overwhelm me.

But I do.  Often.  And I hate it.

Dinner time and bed time are often trigger-moments for this two-year-old.  I have learned that, while I must give him a warning a few minutes in advance about what we are about to do, I also must prepare myself to be patient.  Not just yelling, "Jude, sit down for dinner" and expecting an obedient child, only to find myself frustrated when it doesn't go my way yet another night.

For me, it is mind over emotion.  To be patient with my son.  To not hurry him.  To give him options, with the opportunity to make good choices.  To praise him often.

And if it results in the dead-weight-screaming-two-year-old (as it often does), I at least have control over myself.  To continue to be patient and not let the frustration get the best of me.  To not act in anger.  And to not let my blood boil.

It is like turning off your emotions when you feel that they could get the best of you. Going numb to the frustration and irritation and just choosing something else instead.  At least, this is what works for me.  Allowing me to stay consistent and clear-minded.

It allows me to extend more grace.

Do I do this all the time?  Far from it.  But I'm aware of it.  How often do I chose to give in to frustration and anger and complaining?  I know I have a choice.  I have a choice in my parenting, in my marriage, and in my everyday interactions.  A choice that can either turn your heart toward someone or away from them.  Always choosing the relationship or choosing self first.  That's what it comes down to, it seems.

I pray that in all the moments, the good and the frustrating ones, that my heart would be turned toward my child and that he would know I am on his team.  I fail and I will continue to do so.  But in the mere two years I've gotten to know this boy, I know that he is always watching.  So perceptive and intuitive. Understanding and picking up on far more than I know.  The terrible twos are only practice for the many years to come of needing to choose to turn my heart toward my child even when he wrongs me.  When he makes choices that aren't good.  Hoping that he'll see the same patience and unrelenting love that Christ has for us.

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