3 years ago I became a mom for the very first time to a little 5lb 14oz baby boy. He’s was small, pale, super hairy and sweet. My eyes met his eyes and I was like, “I shall call you Liam,” and that’s what I named him, Liam.
I remember the day I left the hospital. I had a mini anxiety attack. I was thinking, “what are these people thinking sending me with the baby?” I don’t know how to care for him?” In the very moments we drove out of the hospital parking lot, I felt like every day leading up to this day was a blur? A series of thoughts overwhelmed my mind… “How do I know when he’s hungry?” “How do I know if he’s getting enough breast milk?” “Is this even my baby? He looks nothing like me?” “What was I thinking?”
To my surprise, the kid survived 3 whole years of life. Turns out, he liked me. I figured out what every cry meant. Liam blossomed and we even had our own little schedule going. Basically, I mastered parenting in 3 years. I’m a pro. (Nah, jk but you get it) Days leading up to his second birthday I was bombarded with moms warning me about this period called, “terrible twos.” I was so nervous to be reaching this new level of parenting. I found myself peeking into Liam’s room at night to see if he morphed into this monster the other moms warned me about. Days past and Liam still remained sweet. More days pasted and finally, Liam was two.
On his actual birthday I woke him up with kisses! I examined him. He looked the same. He seemed to act the same. I was like, “hmm, maybe this terrible two monster skipped my kid,” and sure enough, it did. Two year old Liam was perfect. The kid used his manners, he was sweet and still willing to lend mommy a few kisses when he had some to spare. I figured this skipping of the “terrible two” stage was a reward from God for paying tithes. Whatever the reason, I didn’t question it.
Fast forward to now. Liam is three. My kind, kiss giving baby boy is three. I can’t believe this kid will start school soon! When his third birthday approached it was different. No mom warned me about “terrible threes.” No one said a darn thing. I went on with life and then boom! It hit me, well Liam hit me. All of the sudden my sweet baby boy started to talk back, test boundaries and throw massive tantrums. In other words he turned into a butthole. I’d find myself in grocery stores on the verge of tears. “What have I done to this child,” I thought! “Why is he screaming at the top of his lungs?” “I only cut his hot dog into tiny pieces…” “Does he want to choke and die? ” “What the heck is wrong him?” “Does he know that I’m trying to help him?” “I’m doing these things because I love him.” “Does he get that?”
The talking back really caught me by surprise. One day I asked my sweet Liam to pick up his toy car. Liam started at me and said, “it’s not a car, it’s a truck.” Maybe that’s minor to you and I guess that wasn’t too outrageous. I think it was the day Liam told me to “chill out,” after I instructed him to do something; that I realized things needed to change. I mean the kid was obviously out of control. He wasn’t following directions. He talked back and he seemed to have no care in the world.
Liam’s always marched to the beat of his own drum and his dad and I encourage the heck out of it. Three year old Liam was a lot more impressionable these days. I noticed that he picked up a lot of bad habits from kids at his daycare. One of those habits was screaming at the top of his lungs when he didn’t get his way.
Growing up, my mom didn’t tolerate that type of behavior. I can still taste the back of my mom’s hand as it met my face after I made a snob remark. What do I do? I mean, do I take Liam back God and exchange him for another kid? Do I lock him away and bring him out after this crazy stage has passed? Somebody help me!
After talking with other moms I found a solution—Pinot Grigio. Just kidding. I realized I had no idea what I was doing and neither did Liam. I’m a mom for a first time and he’s three for the first time. I stopped internalizing his bad behavior and changed my perspective on how I looked at parenting. No more do I lose my cool. No more will I set unrealistic expectations for my three year old. This doesn’t mean I’m hanging up the belt or doing away with time-out anytime soon. This just means that I understand that everyday isn’t going to be a good day. This means, just like God showers me with understanding and mercy; it’s only fair that I show that same understanding and mercy to my terrific three year old.
Think about it, you’re a child of God right? How many times a day does God have to be patient with you because you’ve disobeyed Him? God forgives us and we should forgive our children. Forgiveness in no way negates punishment but forgiveness is accompanied with mercy and love. Learn to show your child grace. What if God lost his cool with us as easily as we lose our cool with our children?