Thursday, December 29, 2011

Joy in the Terrible Twos

After an exhausting, but joyful week in St. Louis playing with 7 cousins, lots of aunts, uncles, grandparents and a fun-loving golden retriever, we were pooped. Not to mention, Marshall, our fiesty almost two year old, is going through a serious testing phase. Hitting kids, throwing things, destroying anything he can get his hands on. We're trying to stay on top of discipline, but it's hard, especially when you're away from home and it's not always easy or convenient to follow through. So after a week of tantrums, kicking, hitting, screaming, whining, climbing out of the pack n play, coming down the stairs by himself, not sleeping or napping well, we were about to tear our hair out. It was a not a fun place to be as a stay at home mom, when I knew what I had to look forward to - a full week with him at home with no Mother's Day Out or planned activities because it was still the holiday season. Ugh. We had a playdate today with a dear friend who is a little bit ahead of me in the parenting stage. She has 5 kids (wow!) ranging around 9, 7, 5, 3, and a newborn. I wasn't sure what I expected when I walked into her home, but I sure didn't expect a joyful, calm atmosphere. But it WAS! She served me coffee, we had a good chat (until my 2 year old started demanding my attention) and she just oozed joy, peace, and contentment in her role as a mom. I was in awe as I looked around her house and saw how orderly everything was. There were 2 bedrooms with 2 kids each, then one for the nursery. All were cutely decorated, but amazingly clean and organized. There was a play area that was filled with fun toys but also orderly. I was in awe. After a good chat on the couch, we went downstairs to the breakfast room and fed all the kids lunch. The girls stopped playing their wedding songs and marrying off their dolls (hilarious!) to join us. They got out a card game that asked good conversation questions like "What qualities do you relate to in your mom and your dad?" I was amazed at how articulate the girls could be. I was amazed that everyone sat there and ate their lunch so calmly. I was amazed at how clean and orderly and efficient her household was. I was amazed at her for having 5 children and being joyful about it. Maybe it's because her girls are the oldest (the two boys are the youngest). But I doubt that's it. Like everyone says, this is a phase. Right now, I'm in a really difficult one with Marshall. I'm exhausted from time outs. I'm exhausted from giving him the talk about consequences, why he's being disciplined and praying for forgiveness with him afterwards. I'm irritated when he keeps testing again and again even after being disciplined. I'm irritated when he kicks me, throws his food on the floor, or hits his sister (which all 3 happen quite often, even with discipline!). I'm flat out irritated and annoyed at him for much of the day. But there are also still sweet times, when I love being with him and love being his mommy. Visiting my friend reminded me that everything is a phase with parenting. Some day, hopefully, I will be sitting down at the breakfast table, enjoying conversation with my children without having to worry about whether they hit each other or throw their food on the floor. Instead, we will probably be dealing with bickering, complaining or arguing. But man, that sure sounds better to me at this point. ha! Lord Jesus, thank you for this Christmas season. Thank you for sending your son Jesus to die for our sins. During these tough parenting days, I see how irritable I am, how short-tempered I can be, how impatient and frustrated and angry I can get, and I realize that You love us as a parent, but without ever losing your temper. You are patient with us, even when we don't deserve it. You discipline us in love, without getting angry. Thank you for the blessing of children and as challenging and as exhausting it can be, there is nothing else in the world I would rather be doing. Next time Marshall kicks me, I'll have to remind myself of that one...then take him into his room for a little chat. :)

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