Top on my endless to do list has been find a cheap pair of slip-on shoes. Unfortunately, my feet have gone up an entire shoe size this pregnancy. Awesome. My feet never swelled or stretched during my first pregnancy but, I have heard that this is a common issue so I guess it is my turn to experience this little delight. I've been squeezing and pinching my swollen piggies into my shoes for the past several weeks but, this pregnant lady just can't take it anymore.
So, after picking up my kiddo from preschool last week, we headed off to Target. Daisy quickly made up her mind that we were going to Target to buy new outfits for her dolls. I informed her gently that we in fact were not going to be buying clothes for her dolls but, suggested that she ask for those things for Christmas. She wasn't satisfied with my suggestion but, I thought she had moved on. Evidently she hadn't, because after being in the store for only five minutes (three of which were spent racing to the bathroom for her), she proceeded to sit on the ground and refuse to move despite my gentle nudge and then firmer reprimand. She wanted to go look at the toys and she was bored of being an obedient daughter. Classic four year old behavior.
Now, I am eight months pregnant and I can barely bend over to pull up my pants, shave my legs, (forget painting my toenails) or put a shoe on, let alone drag a tantruming four year old off the floor of Target. On the other hand, I just finished reading the excellent, "Loving Our Kids On Purpose," parenting book and I am now trying ever so patiently to incorporate the Godly tools that I've gleaned into my discipline and parenting. I bent over my gigantic belly (uggggg so not fun) and got down at eye level with my snot-nosed, tear-streaked kiddo.
"Daisy, I am going to let you make a choice. You can stop crying now and shake this off. Get up and help mommy finish her errands and then we will go look at the toys for a while...or you can keep crying, get up and help mommy finish her errands but, after we will not go look at the toys when I am finished. You get to choose kiddo. So what will it be. Shake it off and help mommy or not?"
And as four year olds so often do...she chose not.
It hurt my heart because, I knew that the consequence of not going to look at toys after was going to be painful for both of us. I knew she would regret her choice in ten minutes once she got over this tantrum. I knew she would try desperately to get me to change my mind. I knew the battle was far from over. Sigh.
She continued to cry (not too loudly thank God) and walked a good ten feet behind me all the way to the shoe department. I knew that I needed to shop fast because I was starting to have hot flashes and feel dizzy...another glorious side effect of being eight months preggo. I also knew that Daisy's behavior could easily go even further downhill but, dangit I needed at least one pair of shoes that fit my fat feet. I tried to tune out my daughter as she continued to whine and make a scene and I also tuned out the people who were staring. I was a pregnant lady on a mission! I spotted the clearance wrack and to my delight I saw that there were slip on shoes marked way down. Hallelujah!! I didn't even care that the shoes weren't at all cute...my feet were SO happy and I got to check another thing off my overwhelmingly long list.
Daisy was still crying...truthfully, I wanted to sit down and cry with her. I think she is tired today. I'm tired too. I think she needed a hug. I needed one too. I think being four must be really tough. Being 8 months preggo with a four year old is really tough too. See, I can empathize with her even when she is being a little stinker.
I picked my daughter up (I still pick her up but, boy it is not an easy task anymore), walked over to a bench and set her down, I wiped her snotty nose and tears away and again bent way down so that I could talk to her at eye level. "Daisy, it hurts mommy's heart when you choose to be unkind. Mommy's feet hurt and I need a new pair of shoes. I needed your help but, you chose to not help Mommy. Now we will not be able to look at toys and I know that your choice is making you sad. I'm sorry honey. I love you very much. Maybe next time you will make a different choice?" I gave her a hug and then I told her we needed to go.
She tried to convince me one more time that she deserved to look at the toys and she told me that I was mean...(that always feels great) when I remained firm.
She stayed mad/sad at me and continued to walk a great deal behind me and pout but, somehow we both managed to get to the car alive.
After all that excitement, this weary, preggo momma needed a milkshake from Chick-fil-A and lucky for me it is right next to Target. Yeah. I ordered a chocolate shake and was looking forward to sharing it with Daisy. Of course when she learned that she would have to share with me she was not happy. She wanted her own. I understand. Life is so unfair. Sigh.
Another chance to practice. "Daisy, mommy loves sharing with you. I am getting one shake and we can either share it or you can let mommy have all of it. Your choice but, I hope you will choose to share with Mommy because that would be fun."
Well, she chose to share. Thank you Jesus! One less battle to have on our twenty minute drive home.
The shake was delicious and we were able to drive in peace...well, for the most part. Four year olds thrive on arguments...perhaps this is true of children of all ages? Daisy informed me that our shake was "banilla." I said, "hmmm, interesting kiddo because it is actually chocolate. Chocolate ice cream is brown. Vanilla is white." She looked into the cup and said, "it's brown banilla mom you are wrong."
Now, I know that this is a super minor issue but, I think that just about all mom's of four year olds can attest to the fact that minor or not...after months of endless arguments over the silliest things, we all want to rip our hair out. Our patience and sanity is beat up day after day and the constant arguments begin triggering panic attacks, heart palpitations and irrational thoughts of fleeing the country. I'm slightly exaggerating of course (or am I) but, at the very least, the mental battles with our kids definitely make us weary...am I right?
Borrowing a line from my good friend Annie I said, "Well, whatever floats your boat darling. I love you too much to argue. Let's just enjoy the ice cream." After that, She got the last word in of course. I chuckled to myself, ignored it and then we went back to enjoying our ice cream. She was much happier after the sugar kicked in and so was I:).
The rest of our drive home, I couldn't help but meditate on my awesome Father in Heaven. I reflected on how perfectly He parents me and all of His kids for that matter. We often treat God like four year olds treat their parents. We demand things. We complain. We suffer from nearsightedness and so often forget the awesome things that God has already done in our lives. We often blame Him for every bad day, bump, scratch or issue in our lives. We yell at him. We let go of his ever patient, ever loving hand and have a tantrum when things don't go just how we want. We ignore Him and spend so little time with Him and yet wonder why He seems so distant when we need Him again. We like to argue with Him and we think we know SO much more than He does when it comes to deciding what is best in our lives.
Through it all, our Heavenly Father is abundantly kind, gentle, forgiving, patient, merciful, faithful and perfectly loving with us. His love for us never grows weary. It never runs out. He never tires of our incessant chatter or our company. His love is unfathomably deep and wide and covers a multitude of our sins against Him. He patiently guides us to the truth and toward righteousness one day at a time...all the days of our lives.
I can only imagine how much it hurts God's heart when we make bad choices, run away from Him and tell Him that He is "mean." He takes no pleasure in our suffering or anguish.
After reflecting for a little while, I couldn't help but say, "Thank you Jesus for loving me so well!" I certainly don't do anything to deserve that kind of love but, that love is there for the taking all the same. I am God's daughter!! What a tremendous gift to be a part of such a loving family! I know that I can go to my Father on my ugliest day or hour and he will never reject me. He will never yell at me. Instead, even at my worst, He lifts up my face and shines on me and pours His love into my brokenness. His love has transformed my life and my heart and continues to challenge me every day to be more like Him.
As a parent, with a child of my own, I am able to get a little clearer taste of that kind of holy, perfect love that our Father in Heaven has for all of his children. I would sacrifice for my daughter. I would lay down my life for her. I would do anything I could for her if she was in need. I have wrinkles, stretch marks, a scrambled brain and gray hair because of my love for my daughter. It is all worth it!
On the other hand, I am human and my love is flawed and far from perfect. I am not always patient. I am not always slow to anger. I am not always understanding. I am unable to give my child my undivided attention at all times. I have and will continue to make mistakes. I might be selfish at times. I will have bad days and might not even be all that fun to be around at times. As much as I love and adore my daughter, I will still fail her at times.
Tough parenting days are SO not fun but, they can remind us of how we often behave toward God and more importantly they can help us to reflect on how in perfect love, God responds to us even when we don't deserve His goodness. God is awesome.
God's love never, ever fails us. He is a perfect example. He is a perfect parent. I want to be more like Him!