Any parent of a toddler can attest to the fact that they are completely transparent and honest. The sentences that come out of their mouths and the actions that they perform are a mirror into the teaching that we pour into their lives. Every single encounter, experience, and word is new to them and their brains are storing them away to use at the appropriate (or inappropriate) time.
From the Mouth of Babes
When we were visiting a friend recently, we went out to eat at a local pub as a family. Sitting across the aisle from us at another table was a group of nicely dressed elderly woman, sipping on cocktails. My daughter had to use the restroom, and as we were walking back to the table she loudly exclaimed, “Yay! I did a BIG POOP! Aren’t you so proud of me?” I did a facepalm motion because I had just said these same exact words to her moments earlier. Although I was horrified she felt the need to announce this with the well-to-do ladies sitting next to us, they thought it was adorable and shared laughs with us.
Be Careful the Things You Say
While most of the things she says are adorable, there are times when she reveals the darker side of my parenting. There are times when the words that come out of her mouth or her actions hurt me, but they are exactly things she has heard me say or seen me do. It’s difficult to recognize your own faults because you can easily, in your mind, justify that what you are doing is right no matter the circumstance. But when it’s reflected back to you from a 3-year-old, it takes on a different meaning.
When she says, “I’m not going to tell you again!” or when she asks, “What’s your problem?” I hear my own frustrations coming out.
Or the worst, when a door is slammed in your face and a finger is pointed and shaking at you while using a scolding tone.
No one is Perfect
I’d like to think that I’m a perfect parent, but the truth is that I’m not. I do my best to feed my daughter healthy meals, read to her several books a day, take her around town to do stimulating activities, and make sure she’s in bed at the same time each evening, but I constantly fail and fall short. It’s moments like these that keep me humble and remind me that I make just as many mistakes as she does.
The key is to be full of grace and gentle in patience. I need to love her when she is unlovable and forgive her when she does things that are unforgivable. I need to choose kindness before choosing wrath. And, I need to hold my tongue before damaging her with my words.
Everything I say and do is shaping this tiny person that I am responsible for raising.
Doing My Best
There are times though when she says and does things that are just so sweet, and remind me that I’m doing my best to make sure that she knows that I will always protect her, cherish her, and love her.
Those are the moments when she says, “It’s okay Mommy, it was just an accident” or when she tells me, “You’re so beautiful.”
Or when she sings, “I love you so much. I love you so much. I can’t even tell you how much I love you. You’re special to me. You’re special to me. I’m lucky to have you as part of my life. I love you, I love you, I love you. I love you, I love you, I love you.”
Then I know I’m doing something right.
And at night after her prayers and she gives me two choices stating, “A kiss, or a hug, which one do you choose, Mom?” I say both, my sweet girl, always both.