Wednesday August 21, 2019
When I read or hear stories about other parents’ toddler seasons, there are so many things that ring true - the testing of boundaries, the endless ways to avoid bedtime, the negotiating (omg the negotiating), the threenager attitude. It’s a trying (and beautiful) time - the common thread weaving us all together. With a little turn to the left and right in moments of despair, we’re often met with a knowing smile, reassurance of camaraderie.
Life with my toddler is often all of this and more. Charlotte is the classic strong-willed girl and most of my parenting has involved the essential task of word mindfulness - what to say, how to say it, when to say it, when to refrain. C needs every decision laid out in choices so she has the autonomy to make them, a thoughtful explanation for every choice that was made for her, an intent listening ear. Outbursts often feel bigger than most as she’s incredibly sure of what she wants and has no problem vocalizing it. She’s been gifted in the communication department so we’ve navigated both the joy and pain of knowing exactly what she’s thinking for quite some time now. As much extra effort as it takes to engage my daughter in this way, it’s been an incredibly healing experience to parent her as I, too, was a strong-willed child who often felt misunderstood or unheard. To see how my words can dissolve her anger or lift her spirits has been a personal lesson in the power of speech and what happens when we become more thoughtful about how we’re using it.
Charlotte and I observed her first dance class the other day. C is definitely not a shy girl, but needs time to trust any new environment; so as with many first-time experiences, we were sitting and watching together. My gentle do you want to try going in? nudges were met by not yet, mommy.
Okay, whenever you’re ready, sweetpea.
A few minutes later, another mom leaned over and said, I think you’re doing an amazing job at handling that. Power of speech - a simple phrase in a quiet moment brought me so much unexpected encouragement, words of life. As we continue parenting our daughter, navigating all sorts of seasons, my hope is that we’re not only using them to nurture her, but also the ones doing this hard work alongside us, the ones walking through difficult places, the ones celebrating new victories.
to affirming and loving well,