Friday, March 27, 2009

This too shall pass...

"It was the best of times; it was the worst of times." Somehow, this manages to be my thesis statement for nearly every day of motherhood. =) There are these moments of absolute wonder and delight and I tear up with joy about the persons my children are becoming. And then there are the times that I wonder if I'm laying a foundation leading to juvenile delinquency. I get impatient. I speak my requests calmly a few times and then crack and get mad. I apologize. We all hug. It happens again. And again. Someone gets poop on something. One of them makes me a drawing that brings me to tears or gives me a perfect hug. They say cute stuff and I post them on the blog for grandparents. We go to bed and do it all again the next day.

In my heart (truly), I love the autonomy stage that Andrew is going through. I know what it's about, I respect it completely, and I'm grateful to see he's developing really normally. And I'm not being facetious, actually. I really do LOVE the autonomy process and am fascinated by how it unfolds. I get that it's an important, healthy part of being human.

But wow!

It's amazing how strongly and powerfully that need to oppose can be. Steve and I are not control freaks with our children, we adore independence, we offer choices, we pick our battles...blah blah blah. But those things almost thwart the developmental process he needs to go through, because he's left with only the Biggies to override. And those are the ones that can't be overridden...because around here, our big rules are don't hurt people and don't break things. And don't run in streets. Or jump off couches with forks. Or jump from the dresser onto the bed head-first.

Okay, I guess there are a few things.

It's hard feeling like a good mom when your child is so conflicted emotionally. Our day had two big blow-outs today, neither of which I can look back and want to revise. I think they HAD to happen. I guess what I mean is, I don't feel like we did something wrong that created them...I think he just really *NEEDED* to create a conflict between us. I totally and completely understand that. And yet, his innocent, child-like side that needs maternal affection hated that he was shouting at me and he erupted into tears. He has no idea what's going on in that little mind/body/soul of his. Poor little dude.

The rest of the day? Snuggles, hugs, laughs, and his absolute pride at going with Jack to Olga's. I can see *Real Andrew* in him, even beyond the conflict, and I love that person he is. But this stage gives me pause about how well things are going. It's hard not to feel insecure when your child is biologically wired to conflict with you on a regular basis, no matter what you do.

We talk a lot about his feelings right now, after the blowouts, and he tells me how he's sad and mad at mommy. When I ask him why, he looks absolutely perplexed and says: "I dunno, Mommy." I think he really doesn't.

I remember that feeling as a teenager...the inexplicable unrest. I feel for him! I really do. It's a rocky process to become the person you're supposed to be.

When Jack was in this stage, I was horrified at how poorly my parenting was going. Oh my. He was my first and I'd never seen the Other Side of things. He'd been such a sweet, loving baby that I MUST have single-handedly ruined him. And then, he hit about 3 and emerged as a more mature, centered version...and I started to see the clouds breaking. We still had (have!) our moments, mind you. But rarely now. That stormy period of the autonomy process has passed, and now...he's just independent without question. There's no conflict about control issues, since he can do and say and think the things he wants to do. When a child is old enough to negotiate and explain (and bribe, if need be), it seems less problematic to navigate the conflicts.

You know it's a fun night home solo (Steve out of town) when you're googling: "Fighting with my 2 year old." Good times. But, it was nice to have the reminder that things ARE going according to plan:

This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass.

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