Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Most Important Lesson I'm Trying to Learn

It's become my mantra.

I say it to myself over and over again.

But, sometimes, it's really hard to do.

Don't take it personally. 

We, mothers. We love and we provide and we play. We do all that is asked of us and more. We read and we tickle and we kiss. We cook and we feed and we tuck in. We give and we give because that is our job, and we ask for little in return, because that's the nature of the position. It's not about getting anything back, it's about the giving, providing and teaching. But, sometimes, in order to do this job successfully, we do need to put in a request. Usually a seemingly small one ("come here, so we can put on your shoes," "hold my hand so we can safely cross the street"). And when that request is met with a defiant "no" or a tantrum of epic proportions or an invitation to begin a game of "catch me if you can," it's hard not to feel like it's about making our lives difficult. But,

Don't take it personally. 

Toddlers are fascinating humans. They are learning the ins and outs of their world. They are exploring every facet of existence and figuring out how just how far they can push the limits of the people around them. As awful as their resistance can feel sometimes, it is actually what they are supposed to be doing. We each have our own ways of figuring out how to deal with our children and different tactics are going to work for different families. But, for me, more than figuring out how to work through the challenging behavior is the importance of realizing that the behavior itself is not being employed as some sort of punishment for me.

Don't take it personally. 

The way children grow and develop tends to leave us unprepared for toddlerhood. They start out knowing nothing and needing us for every aspect of life. As time goes on and they learn how to fend for themselves they (hopefully) begin to establish some independence. Again, this is what we want to happen. And yet, that desire not to conform to what's being asked of them, to insist on doing things their own way in their own time can sometimes feel like a major slap in the face. Additionally, as our children get older and seem to understand so much of the world around them, it seems impossible that they can't sense how close to the brink we sometimes are. There are moments when I just can't believe that my son doesn't realize how badly I need his cooperation. His inability to just do the simple thing I am asking feels like betrayal. And yet.

Don't take it personally.

And, not taking it personally does not mean that it's not personal. It is. But not in the sense that it's a personal attack against me. It's personal in the fact that it has to be a sign that I'm doing something right. My son's comfort in fighting me on the everyday details of life tell me that he understands my love is unconditional. He is not afraid to push me. If nothing else, that must mean that he knows innately that I'm not going anywhere. It may make it significantly harder to do my job and it may even feel spiteful at times. But, it's not about hurting me. Or punishing me. Or being ungrateful. It's about growth and learning. It's about testing and evolving. It's about being a toddler.

1 comment:

  1. While reading this I had a comment all prepared. It started with "I would take it one step further..." Then I got to the last paragraph which literally took the words out of my mouth. Nice.