Everyday with Annabel is challenging for me. She is not a difficult child, but she is in a difficult stage, and I don't often feel that I have the tools necessary for dealing with the job. She is an ordinary 2-year-old... I don't think she's any different than most 2-year-olds. But being patient, gentle, kind and nurturing don't seem to come naturally to me. I struggle a lot with meeting the high expectations I have for myself as a mother. I certainly know what kind of mother I want to be, but it doesn't always play out that way. And I'm not easy on myself when it comes to my many shortcomings (and I guess I don't really feel like I should be, either).
By the end of the day, I find myself looking over the events of the day and weighing whether I feel like it was a success or not, kind of like weighing the good interactions with the bad. As long as there are more good, I sleep easy that night... but when the bad outweigh, well, that's when I'm the most critical of myself.
"Took Annabel to the park this morning and played tag with her. Check. Giggled about something nonsensical, check. Snuggled up and read lots of books while nursing the baby instead of making her play on her own. Check. Sat her in front of the tv so I could catch up on internet time. Fail. Didn't let her help with making supper because she was getting on my nerves. Fail. Said hurtful things in a harsh voice. Fail. Wasn't as gentle as I could (should) have been when making her stay away from her brother. Fail. Took her to the pool and continued teaching her to swim. Check. Punished her for something that didn't deserve punishment. Fail. Made her feel bad about trying to "help"- fail, fail, FAIL."
And yet at the end of the day, when we're all exhausted and at our most raw, it's me she's begging for. "I want mommy to put me to bed. I WANT MOMMMMMYYYYY!" For some reason unknown to me, I still satisfy a place in her and meet a need that no one else can, regardless of the way I've treated her that day. It is a very humbling knowledge. I don't deserve to be loved so unconditionally, and yet there it is. In her little 2-year-old eyes, I am her whole world. She sees herself through the lens of mommy and how mommy treats her. Eventually she will view God by the way she is treated by her parents.
I can not take this for granted. I know there will come a time when she will stop loving me unconditionally, and her love will be based on our relationship and how I make her feel about herself. And truly, that's the way it should be- it's not the job of the child to love the parent unconditionally. But it scares me to think that if I don't get myself together and do better at this, that one day we may not have the relationship I want.
One verse keeps coming back to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor 12:9). And grace is for us mama's, too. But it is so hard.