Adoption, Parenting, Life... All Totally Messy and Completely Worth It
When a mommy friend comments on the terrible twos, there's nothing I hate more than the not-helpful-at-all-so-stop saying-this-please comment from a more experienced mama, "Oh, you think two is hard? Three is way worse."
(Can we all agree to quit it with these sorts of "just wait" snarks? I could write a whole post about that, but my lovely friend Katie already has.)
Regardless of whether you think the hard preschool stage is age two or three or something else, I think we can all agree on these three rules of thumb: (1) Every kid is unique in what timing the I-want-to-do-it-myself-but-can't-yet-so-I-will-defy-authority-as-I-test-my-limits stage hits, (2) Every kid has one, but some are more committed to their oppositional ways than others, and (3) This too shall pass.
Kind of. We still have some tantrum like moments with our older ones, just with less frequency nowadays.
(Side note: Sometimes older adoptive kiddos hit their own stage at one or two years in the family, as they exist the honeymoon stage - or, for some, skip it altogether - and jump into testing boundaries like a two or three year old but in an older child's body. This post isn't about that, but let's suffice it to say we're at that point for at least a couple of our three who joined the family a year ago.)
And then there's Zoe. I feel like a mental meme held by many is the angelic sweet person with Down syndrome or another disability, as if special needs mean an individual doesn't get angry, doesn't shed tears of sorrow or frustration, and doesn't have PMS or pubescent angst... sorry to shatter your false image, but that's not real. In our house, we're seeing that as WE HAVE ENTERED THAT ROUGH STAGE for our littlest preschooler.
But, as much as this stage can make me feel inadequate as a mother because I don't know how to best discipline her through this and because I often don't understand her because her speech is limited, l love it.
She doesn't have the communication skills to say, "I can do it by myself," but she certainly has the spunk.
I'm not allowed to assist her in moments like these unless she explicitly asks - "hiking mama," translated "help me, mama" - but she'll tolerate a hand from her partner in crime and in being three.
Our sanitation grade around here isn't very high, you might notice.
But mess matters less than character, and we had a lot of development of both this morning.
A lot of messes made. A lot of character shaped. A lot of this-is-so-worth-it moments.
Yes, these days are challenging. Yes, I feel like I don't know what I'm doing or if I'm doing the right things some all most of the time. Yes, the dirty shirts and sticky surfaces seem like they reproduce faster than bunnies. Yes, I fall into bed exhausted more often than not, only to be woken up by little footsteps or loud cries.
But the wonder of parenting the youngest of six is this: I know this will pass. I know she'll gain more independence (though, given cerebral palsy, we don't know how much more). I know kids are able to help with laundry and cleaning surfaces and whatnot as they get older. And most of all, I know I have to let her make messes and throw fits and work through this tough stage so that she can learn to do it all better over time and so that we both can discover grace for the moments in the future when life won't be easy.
I'm learning that parenting is full of paradoxes. In motherhood, thoughts of "I love this" and "This feels crushingly hard" can occupy the same space in my mind.
But I wouldn't trade it for the world.
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