I just woke up after accidentally falling asleep while snuggling with Nora, and I feel confused and dehydrated, obviously the product of fatigue and nachos--like a dizzy camel, a spinning canteen with no water in it, a raisin on a merry-go-round...
Okay. I'll stop.
Nora looked at me while we talked tonight, her hand in my hair, "What's the deal? Are you happy?"
We had a rough afternoon when she refused to put her clothes back on at Grandma's house. (We had to throw them in the dryer to recover from a water spill accident.) It was time to head home, so I told her she'd have to go in the back room in a "time out" until she decided to put her clothes back on. I mean, I know running around naked must be completely amazing for a child--you don't have that cultural body-image hatred thing that I think so many of us are afflicted with, and to be honest, none of Nora's clothes are fitting right at this moment anyway--the waist too tight, the shirt sleeves too long. No wonder she wants to go au natural. I'd rather be tossed in a box of snapping turtles honestly, so it's hard for me to relate to her quite vociferous desire to go "woodstock" on me when it's time to go.
What is going on in her heart right now? She's tired of going so many places perhaps, or she just doesn't want to leave Grandma's or she just wants to know she has a bit of control over her life. (I have a feeling it's a little of all three.) Mom is so good at reminding me that her ability to say "No" is a gift, a tool we shouldn't dismantle in the course of helping her grow. She needs to be able to say No to all sorts of things in life--and the only way this "No" works is if she has a clear sense of who she is, how she should be treated, what she wants and needs and what she will and won't put up with. No.
I am sitting on the couch praying for patience and peace. And I'm starting to cry a little bit, too. I'm ready to go home, kick off my boots and just sit for a moment. I check on Nora. Nope. No clothes.
There is a side of me that wants to howl and cry and throw a tantrum in the same way that she does because I want my way and I want it now.
But not this time. I sit. I breathe. I wait patiently because I'm not the spanking type and I'm not the forcing type. While teaching her self-control, I'm learning it myself. And it hurts. The tears spill, the heart races until I finally get it: hurry is the death of prayer. You can wait. Even if Nora claims she wants to "stay naked in Grandma's guest room forever," she will eventually decide it's time to get dressed.
"Are you happy?" I tell her that I am always happy to be her mom, even when we disagree because I love her and this is what love does. It waits. It doesn't force it. It doesn't mold the other person into a convenient "take-along" package in my busy schedule. And I hope that the more I respond with patience, with consistency, with clear requests that always take her point of view in mind, the more I hope she will learn how to say Yes and how to say No like she means it. This (developmental phase) too shall pass.