12 February 2014

toddler parenting (on hard days)

I left my 22 month old for more than 6-8 hours, for the first time ever. I went on a weekend trip to Jacksonville, FL, Friday morning thru early Sunday evening. My Bible study, Bible Study Fellowship, has a weekend leaders retreat with all the other classes in our part of the country, once every three years; it was our turn. I had made up my mind that I wasn't going if the toddler hadn't weaned on his own before then, and last spring I planned to let my teaching leader know. But then she asked me to help with leading our class as the substitute teaching leader. I told her I was concerned about him weaning while I was gone (or more accurately, having a nursing strike upon my return; and at 22 mo, it would be hard to get him back from that), but she confidently said, "he won't. We'll pray against that. You'll be pumping at the retreat, and he'll go back to nursing when you get home." End of discussion. With her. But that was the beginning of the crazy stress in my head. 

The anticipation the week before I left was the worst; at one point I thought I had given myself hives from the stress of it all. But I continued to pray for peace for  my family and me. I knew going on the retreat was the right thing to do, and part of me wanted to be there; but it was hard to be away from my son. 

But coming home was harder. I didn't expect that, but it wasn't completely surprising either. I came home to an over tired little boy who simultaneously wanted to be held and be independent, and couldn't remember that whining and crying isn't the way life works. Monday was a hard hard adjustment day for him, which made my life tough too. I cried more on Monday than I had all weekend while I was away. Almost-two-year-old toddlers are still learning how to cope when things don't go how they think they should, that's normal; but this was way magnified into some sort of insanity. Fussing, whining, crying, hitting, kicking, flopping on the floor, stomping, and a general lack of being able to obey or follow any kind of directions. (But he pretty much got "no ma'am" mastered, since "no" seemed to be the only response to anything I said that day.) I told a friend online that there was nothing "cute" about our day, but to our credit, he did eat 3 good meals and 2 snacks, pooped in the potty and only had one peepee miss. He took two naps, the first started before 10:30am; and we had some quiet book reading time-- maybe that was a little redemptive. And no nursing strike. But it was a HARD day!! 

We survived, and Tuesday was better! We're not back to normal, but it was much much better. When I said, "look out the window, what's that?!" he signed and said snow ("doooe"). Snow was falling, and it's been less than two weeks since we played in the snow, but I think he hasn't seen it falling this winter. So that made me happy that he recognized the precipitation too. He also has a sweet cat sound that he's started doing in the last couple weeks. "Neowmm neow neowmm" He eats Trader Joe's ginger cats cookies after lunch, and says "cat! neow neow neow" the whole time he's eating them. And we got at least an inch of snow to play in Tuesday afternoon. The babe says and signs, "doe" (snow) then "oosh" (shoes) and just signs "outside." He loves playing in the snow, and he likes walking around with lots of little steps and feeling and hearing it crunch under his shoes. I was so thankful Tuesday was a better day (I would have *never* been able to get him bundled up to play outside on Monday). He still had a couple meltdowns, but he calmed down quickly, and I still had to help him follow directions some, but that's par for the toddler-parenting course. 

Monday I got an awesome reminder from my Bible study notes on Matthew 17. This chapter includes the transfiguration of Jesus, and Peter, James, and John got to see and experience it too. They had time alone with Jesus, saw Moses and Elijah, and heard the voice of God. What a glorious exoerience! Then they came down the mountain and joined the rest of the disciples and crowds of people including a father desparate for Jesus to heal his demon-possessed son. Such contrast; but that is exactly why Jeaus came to earth. God reveals himself through our everyday and challenging life situations, and He delivers us from Satan's hold. Our "mountain" experiences encourage and strengthen us, but everyday life tests and challenges the reality of our faith and transformation. 

It's okay that it was a tough day on Monday, and we're still getting back to normal (whatever that may be). I don't respond perfectly to every whiny or meltdown toddler moment, and that's okay too. But I do trust God to continue to guide my parenting and give me strength and consistency for challenges. And His grace covers the times I don't get it right the first time. Paul says in 2 Corintians 12:9, But he [the Lord] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 

Praise God!!

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