Written by: Jenny Diehl, mom of 2 in KC
Sometimes, you don’t always win at parenting.
Sometimes at the end of the day, you’re beat. Sometimes your two-year-old will teach you something about yourself, so profound, that you can’t believe you didn’t notice it before.
Sometimes I feel like I’m the only parent in the world who has a strong-willed, independent, too smart for his own good, toddler.
Today, I lost.
I lost my patience, I lost my compassion, and I damn near lost my mind.
We planned a fun evening out, taking our kids to dinner and the movies. Our two-year-old son has been under the weather, but we figured we would try to take him to do something fun.
Dinner was challenging. He didn’t want to sit down, crawled under the table, yelled at us that he didn’t want to eat. That should have been our first clue to just go home and play. But we kept it moving, and arrived at the theatre.
While we were standing in line waiting to buy tickets, he was all over the place. I tried to stay calm and he tried to push my buttons. We got our tickets and headed into the theater. We let him choose our seats. He went way up to the top to an empty row. It was perfect. But it wasn’t long until he was running down the stairs screaming to sit in a different seat.
We had everyone’s attention at this point. It’s like I could hear the silent thoughts of every person in the theater. “Oh my gosh, she can’t control her child." "Why is she letting him run all over the place, screaming at the top of his lungs?” They were staring. I was mortified. I went down to the bottom row, picked him up, arms and feet flailing, and brought him back up to our seats. He continued to throw his fit. At this point, we had turned into a show. I should have charged all of the people watching an entertainment fee.
Our boy was crying. Our four-month-old daughter was crying. I was almost crying. It was just time to go. We handed our popcorn to a random stranger and walked out of the theater.
On the car ride home, he fell asleep within minutes of getting on the road. And that’s when the guilt set in. “Do you think we left too soon?”, my husband asked me, sheepishly. I didn’t know how to respond. It was definitely a scene, and it was so obvious our baby boy was just worn out. We made the right decision by leaving. Out of our own guilt and sorrow, we agreed that we would find a movie to watch together on Netflix when we got home. We carried him inside, changed him into his jammies, and at 7:30, he was out for the night.
"He's passionate, just like you are."
Before we called it a night, we went in and laid with him in his bed and watched him sleep. I prayed for us in the moment. I prayed that we can learn to understand each other better. I know it will come with age on his end, but I’m a grown adult. What’s my excuse? What excuse could I possibly have for getting so frustrated with my two-year-old? God answered me immediately in that moment. It was clear as day. “He’s passionate, just like you are”. It’s like He spoke those words right into my ear, it’s like I heard them out loud. He is a little version of me. A hot headed, quick tempered, strong willed, three-foot version of ME.
Don’t cry, Jenny. Don’t. Cry. Teach him. Learn from him. Pray for him. Pray for yourself. Love him. Hug him. Understand him. Observe him. Let him observe you. He will get it one day. It will click. But until then, just love him. Love his fits. Love his passion. Love the person he is becoming. He is you. You are him. Learn what works. Love him. Because at the end of the day, he is you.
Today, I lost.
But today, I also won.