Toddlers, Twenty-somethings and Temper tantrums
I have a two year old. I have crayon drawings covering my fridge and walls. I have Sesame Street songs ringing in my head. It is pretty hard to make it though my living room without stepping on a land mine (a piece of plastic food from her toy kitchen, a puzzle piece, her baby doll's countless accessories). There is play dough ground into our rug and I am pretty sure that we could repopulate any of the Great Lakes with the number of goldfish crackers that find their way into our couch. I hear "no Mommy" and "mine" more times a day than I care to admit. These assertions are often followed by whining, which turns into screaming, which finds its red faced way directly to timeout. Yes, I have a two year old.
Lately I have been giving a lot of thought to how to deal with this relatively new phenomenon. I usually do this at night after my blood pressure has dropped back down to an acceptable level, I have had a chance to shower and wash off the poop and puke that my four month old has happily adorned me with, and my head has (somewhat)cleared. Somewhere between ripping my hair out and praying for wisdom and patience I had a bit of a humbling realization. (Okay, this epiphany probably came to me more as a result of my prayer than hair pulling.) I realized that in actuality there is not a whole lot of difference between Hayleigh's temper tantrums and some of my own attitude problems. No, I don't typically throw myself of the floor and scream when someone tells me "no". (And definitely not when someone tells me to take a nap. I would love someone to tell me that!) But is there really much of a difference between my temper tantrums and my daughter's? They both come from the same root sin of selfishness.
I am not making excuses for Hayleigh's behavior but at least she is two. I am a lot older than two and still find myself throwing my grown-up version of temper tantrums: when something changes suddenly in my schedule, when I don't get the down-time I want , when I don't have the money to go on a shopping spree so I can fill my closet and decorate my home exactly how I want, or someone says something that rubs me the wrong way, or I don't get a full night's sleep, or to go on vacation, or to eat fillet mignon for dinner at least once a week (okay, not really). I have a tendency to fall into that same self-pity, frustration and even anger as my toddler. Sometimes Peter and I say to ourselves, "what is so bad about Hayleigh's life? She doesn't know how good she has it!". I find myself sitting here wondering if God is saying the same thing about me. How many times has God watched me throw my temper tantrums, and even worse how many times have I prayed selfish prayers in the midst of one of those tantrums? Eeek.
The fact that my God sees the yuckiest parts of me and still not only puts up with me, but loves me unconditionally is pretty darn amazing. It is also pretty darn convicting. I love Hayleigh. I adore Hayleigh. I would do absolutely anything for my baby girl.
So when she is melting my heart hugging me and saying "I wuv you, Mommy", or whispering her bedtime prayers, or beaming with pride at her latest craft creation, or pretending to breast feed her baby, I will soak those moments in. And when she is yelling at me, or interrupting, or whining and nagging, I will soak in the grace of my Savior who was nailed to the cross for me. That same grace gave me the exhortation in Ephesians 5:1-2 and the encouragement in Proverbs 24:16 .
(I apologize for the horrible handwriting.)
This grace also gives me "everything I need for life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3) which I am pretty sure includes being patient with a two year old.
Also, happy 4 month birthday to my Little Man today!!
And here is one more of his sweet and sassy sister!