I’d like to believe that I’m a pretty tough mom. John and I want to be strict with Jacob, especially now, because he’s learning how to listen and, hopefully, that not obeying what Mommy and Daddy ask of him has consequences.
I’m not sure I believe in the “terrible twos” as they are made out to be: a period of insanity in which one wonders why she had children and if the screaming will ever, ever end. But then, this is my first time experiencing this stage as a parent. Still, I’d like to think that this is the time when we build the foundations of Jacob’s character. If he learns he can get away with stuff now, he’s going to believe it the rest of his life.
When he’s sleeping peacefully, this theory seems wonderful, doesn’t it? When he’s awake and not getting what he wants, it’s a little tougher to see the potential light at the end of the very long, very loud tunnel.
John and I love Jacob so much—and his crying and whining so little—that being as firm as we’d like to be is often a challenge. I can only speak for myself, but I know that while I don’t explicitly count until Jacob chooses whether to obey (“I’m going to count to three. One, two, . . .”), I often say, “This is your last chance” more than once. Three times, usually, if we’re being honest (and aren’t we always honest here?).
In theory, I’m shooting myself in the foot by not truly abiding by what I say. There are some factors (or maybe excuses) to consider, though: 1) I often speak too soon, then realize I’m committing to some form of punishment or other action I might be dreading; and 2) he’s not even two yet. Sure, we expect a lot from him, but I also know his toddler brain doesn’t yet function the same way my adult brain does. He gets some slack, I get some slack. But at the end of days like today, I wonder if that means we’re making any forward progress at all.
My go-to phrase when Jacob starts crying about not getting something he wants (pressing the button on the air conditioner, say, because he’s in his high chair having lunch), is “Does crying get you what you want?” It’s mostly a reminder to me that it’s very easy for me to crumble and give in, more to make the wailing stop than because I really feel like his current desire is going to make him happy.
God thinks the opposite way, though, doesn’t He? He realizes that often our current desires are not the ones that are going to make us happy. As difficult as I’m sure it is for Him to answer some of our prayers with a “negative,” He can see so clearly what we really need.
God’s love is discipline. It is sacrifice—on His part, perhaps, as much as ours. Who wants to see someone he loves—much more someone he created—suffer? But then again I remember that God doesn’t think as humans think.
I strive to love as God loves—both as a parent and as a child of God. While persistent prayer is meaningful, being pouty, or worrying, or being afraid isn’t going to get me what I want. Relying on God’s grace is.
Really, what else can get me through the day when my toddler randomly breaks into an all-out wail because I said we needed to say grace before we ate a snack (like we always do)?
I think I’m going to start praying for the grace to persevere through adolescence now.