My child is on the brink of becoming a 3 year-old. And I'm not gonna lie to ya - up until now, I've had it fairly easy. She was an early self-soother, meaning she settled very nicely into the Baby Whisperer routine as an infant and learned, almost immediately, how to go to sleep on her own. She didn't waste any time learning to feed herself, and as soon as her sense of balance agreed, she was beginning to walk. Six months ago, she put up such a fight to all of my potty-training efforts that I threw in the towel (or toilet paper) and decided to wait until she was ready. I figured I'd have this mystical mommy-inuition moment where I could suddenly tell that it was time. Instead, my baby girl woke up from a Sunday afternoon nap three weeks ago, ever so casually went poo-poo on the potty, and she has been completely potty-trained ever since. So you see, I've had to do very little of the titanic struggling that most moms go through to get their children to perform the basic functions of life: sleep, eat, walk, poop.
Did I mention that she can count to 17 and say most of her ABC's?
It's no wonder that I almost feel like I'm getting ready to be a mother for the first time, all over again. I thought the walking/talking/eating/pooping thing would be tough. But this next part is scaring me to death: she has learned to reason. All of a sudden, she's spitting out these complete sentences that display an uncanny ability to understand her environment and respond with her-gasp-thoughts. It really is terrifying. I tell her that it's time for bed, and she not only tells me that she does not want to go to bed, she tells me precisely why she would like to stay up. I have this brilliant little debater, and I am ill-prepared for her arguments.
I don't want to respond with the traditional "because I said so" and "don't talk back to your mother" and "1...2...2 and 3 quarters...", but I don't know how to get the right words across to her. She was arguing with me about watching Blue's Clues Friday morning, and when I tried to explain to her that watching too much television is not a good idea, she just squirmed and wiggled and whined. Is it possible for a child's mind to be able to send arguments and not yet be capable of receiving them? Is that a verifiable developmental stage?
You know, before they begin to speak full sentences and show powers of deduction and reasoning, you talk to them like they're still part-baby, part-child. You wonder how much is getting through, how much is making an impression...how much will be remembered. Almost like you're talking to someone who you think might speak a little bit of English, maybe. And when the part-baby grows up and English is no longer a second language, the realization of your words' weight is staggering. All of a sudden you're unwittingly shouting every word through a megaphone into a room the size of a shoebox. I'm dissecting everything I say to her. When I told her to sit down, was I too harsh? When she asked me for some milk, did I act put out that she needed me? Can she tell that I'm frazzled tonight? Am I smothering her with affection? Am I endangering her sense of security? Does she feel loved?
Mercy. Seriously. I need it. I'm asking for a double portion in the days to come. I breezed through the weeks that leave many moms in a tearful, tired, poo-covered heap. The fact that I breezed through them on the wings of grace is not lost on me. Something tells me I won't breeze through this next part. And that's okay - I want to welcome every new season in my sweet daughter's life. So as I stare at her in wonder, I remember that God is just as faithful today as He was on the day that I had Olivia. He is just as loving, just as powerful, just as generous. And I learn to hold on...
Prayers for this Child
I do not know how I am to pray for this child
as a mother I don't want my baby denied
but in the waiting in the waiting
every instinct in me wants to shield him from pain
take the arrows of misery heartache and blame
but in the sorrow in the sorrow
I learned to hold on
I only have two eyes - be all seeing
I only have two hands - be everywhere
I do not know enough - to be all knowing
I give this baby up into your care
I do not know how, how to pray for this child
I want to guard her from everything wicked and wild
but in the trial in the trial
I learned to hold on
And in the trial, in the trial
I learned to hold on to the heart of God