I've been getting frustrated, exhausted and hopeless when it comes to some of the behavior my daughter expresses.
I love her to pieces but this stage is HARD!
I don't know why people complain about the terrible two's. They were easy. She was easy. But now. . . now almost everything is a battle. From brushing her hair to getting dressed to eating.
She is wonderfully creative and smart. She is independent, persistent and determined. And while I absolutely love these traits she possesses, the combination of all of them with this stage is exhausting.
I'm constantly trying to think of new ways to react, discipline and connect because what may have worked in the past doesn't necessarily work now.
And then some days (okay! most days) guilt gnaws at me. I feel like the only memories she will have from this time in her life is me telling her no, reminding her constantly to use her manners, to not interrupt when someone is talking, to not talk when her mouth is full of food, watch the attitude, don't scream at me, pick up your toys . . . your clothes . . . your shoes. And I wonder at the end of each day, did I laugh with her, did I get on the floor and play with her, did I praise her, did I make time just for her?
I don't know if I did. I don't know what will slip into the void and what she will carry with her.
And so I did what seems to be the only thing I know how to do when I have emotions and important things to say that I have a hard time expressing verbally . . . I wrote. I wrote her a letter. If she does have some not-so-pleasant memories from this stage or any stage, I hope when she reads this letter and she knows she was always loved.
I don't usually make the letters I write to her public but this one I will.
I've heard it said that when raising little ones the days are long and the years short. I know this to be true because wasn't it just yesterday we brought you home from the hospital? I also know this to be true because some days just drag on and on and on.
There are going to be days where laughter comes easy and smiles readily found. There are going to be days where you are going to need to entertain yourself because I'm going to be busy. Sometimes we have to do the things that are not always fun. Sometimes we need to take care of the little things as well. It's called responsibility. I'm going to clean the house, fold your clothes, brush your hair, make your meals and I'm going to make mistakes.
The making mistakes makes me swallow hard. I don't want to. I have a Type A personality. I strive for perfection - don't fall into that, you'll end up like a dog chasing its tail, it doesn't exist - and even though I know this, I still strive. Habits die hard. I don't want to. Mainly out of fear of scarring you. I will though. I'm human.
You are human. You will make mistakes. And you know what? It's okay.
Through the mistakes made and the living and the forgiving, I hope you learn something. I hope you learn about grace. I hope you experience grace. And I hope you learn something extremely beautiful about the human race: we are all just trying to do the best we can.
I'm doing my best.
I can't promise you that I won't make mistakes. That I won't lose my patience when instead I should have taken in breaths deep. I can't promise you that you will always see smiles on this face of mine. You've already seen so many tears fall, haven't you? I can't promise you that you will be shielded from hurt. You have already witnessed and lived the unexpected hurt.
Though you are still little, you have lived a lot. You have some experiences I wish you didn't. You have witnessed how life can turn in an instant. And from living, you have learned that death is apart of this life. You have questions. So many questions that most three-year-olds never have to ask. Questions that most adults don't even ask. I may never know just how much this hurt has affected you. In the midst I prayed that God protected you. I still do. I hope you witnessed and learned that even when pain cuts sharp, that God is always enough. Always. I hope you learned that death doesn't mean the end and that love doesn't stop.
I hope you saw that I didn't give up.
I can't promise you that I will never disappoint or hurt you. I will. I am human. I hope you learn a thing about forgiveness through my mistakes. I hope you learn to say I'm sorry. I hope you learn to be kind to others even when the hurt they inflict is intentional - you don't know what kind of mountains they are struggling to climb.
I can't promise you that I will never disappoint or hurt you. I will. I am human. I am your mother and you are my daughter. It is such a beautiful and complex relationship.
What I can promise you is that I love you deep and true. I promise you that when I look into the deep brown of your eyes, I will always be amazed. I promise you that I am doing the best that I can. I promise to get down on the floor and play with you. I promise to dive into that deliciously creative imagination of yours and get lost with you. I promise that I will let you play in the dirt and let you play with make-up. I promise to listen to you talk and tell me about your day. I hope you still do that with me years down the road. I promise memories. The kind that are rich and warm you on a winter's day. The kind that are sudden and cause eyes to smile. The kind that are remembered first from the heart and make you feel like home.
I wanted and prayed for you long before I ever saw that first flicker of your beating heart. I loved you then. I love you now. I love you forever . . . no matter what . . . cross my heart.