I spent the morning with my beautiful daughter, Saylor, making chocolate chip pancakes. I can't believe how she is turning into a person right before my eyes. Everyday I watch her grow and become more lovely. She is able to do so much on her own these days. She is entering a phase where I can actually use her help. She was full of joy as she poured ingredients into the bowl and mixed it up. She is slowly learning to be patient. She asks important, valid and smart questions about the world. She is trying to understand each detail of life and put it together like a puzzle. I told her that we are going to a rodeo this weekend, and once I got to the part about the horses she was jumping with excitement screaming, "I go to a radio, radio, radio!!" It must be hard to learn words and meanings. And to learn that some words have the same meanings and that some words are spelled the same, but have different meanings. I am impressed with Saylor's level of understanding. She will be three in October and already she is asking to go to school. My heart breaks at the thought of her leaving. I can't imagine a life without seeing her everyday. I am quick to complain about how much work being a mother is and then when I leave I miss her terribly within an hour.
There is a beautiful article in this months Ensign about setting aside a few moments each day to give one-on-one attention to your family members. It is difficult to find an activity to do with young children that will hold their attention and run smoothly. I have had to be willing to leave my comfort zone as a mother, by allowing things to get a little messy or loud at times if it means an opportunity to bond with my daughter. This morning was a great success. She was entertained and felt good about herself for helping. We were listening to Band of Horses (currently our favorite band) and I felt genuinely happy to be sharing that moment with my baby.
So much of my daughters ability to enjoy life depends on the tools that I give her. If every time she has a surge of overwhelming emotion (aka a tantrum), and I react by shaming her, or sooth her with food, it's likely that she will find it difficult to control or understand her emotions as she gets older. I am eagerly devising a way that I can help my daughter cope with her feelings as they arise. I do not want to mute her sense of confidence. She is strong, outgoing, compassionate, and silly. When nurtured, these qualities will enrich her life. However if she is taught to be pacified by immediate stimulation (i.e. electronics, food etc.) then that is what she will turn to in the future. What a critical time in a child's life.
I was given the idea to carry a small bag of 10 coins, buttons, beans, or any other small item. Every time a stressful situation arises give the child the bag and have them count the items or line them up if the child is too young to count. This is a quick diversion that allows the child to step away from the situation without feeling shameful.
I have struggled with guilt and low self-esteem my entire life. I can't remember a time when I didn't feel like everyone else was better than me. No guilt can compare to "mommy-guilt" though. I worry that although I'm with her 24/7 that I often take her for granted. I find myself brushing her aside to often. On the other hand I've come up with a mantra that has really helped me to over come "mommy-guilt" as it arises. Around the time that she has slammed my head in the fridge for the third time in morning I calmly guide her to bedroom and close the door for a timeout. She begins to sob and kick and I can just picture her sad little face. This is where the mantra comes in.
She's a white-American child.
She is fed.
She is clothed.
She is in an air-conditioned room, full of
toys games, puzzles, books, and stuffed animals.
She is not being abused.
She will still live even if she is mad at me.
You are her mother, not her friend.
Boundaries will be tested. Hair will be cut with kid scissors. Lemonade will be dumped on your lap top (sorry, Cass). Carpets will be peed on. Random grapes will be eaten off of the floor at Wal-mart; but lessons will be learned. When all is said and done, it's all worth it because she is mine. Even during the chaos there's nowhere else I'd rather be.