Monday, March 8, 2010

first born daughter

It's rest time -- the most peaceful part of my day. On days when all three kids are down, it's a time to forget about dishes/chores and focus on thinking, praying, and sitting in silence. No TV, music, or other such distractions (besides the computer, today, b/c I'm obviously on it).

I have a nagging thought tapping on my shoulder lately. It was heightened today with a dramatic little 4 year old meltdown.

That thought is -- How can I model grace to Eloise when i really don't want to?

Eloise is my sweet, loving, longing to please, emotional, first born daughter. She is like me in so many ways, but might have gotten Dave's lack of patience. Or it could just be that she's 4 and life feels stacked against her.

When she gets in these modes of drama or emotions, it takes me to a place of pure frustration. When it's a leg that hurts and she can't describe the type of pain and there has been no obvious injury, when she feels slighted by her sister taking something from her or hitting her (as Lily is often known to do), or when she just can't get something to work. It's at that time that I have absolutely NO IDEA what to do.

If I was the mom of just her, I feel like my focus could be on figuring out the problem. But when I have another crazy, just as emotional 3 yr old and a 7 month old begging to be held, the problem escalates quickly.

I snap at her. I tell her I'm frustrated and I try as hard as I can to keep the lid tight so I don't explode. She asks me if I'm mad at her. I tell her no and explain that I'm really frustrated. I know she doesn't get it.

Mustering up grace at that moment is painful and every part of my being doesn't want to give it to her. And then i remember that I'm shaping her. I teach her about grace. I model it. My words are the words that she will use on her siblings or friends. They are my actions that will be acted out. If she doesn't learn some acceptable ways to respond to a stressful situation, shes going to end up acting out the wrong one.

I see it in Dave. His dad did not model a healthy way how to deal with frustration. He spends ALOT of time working on how to correct that. And often times the default setting takes over. I don't want Eloise's default setting to be my mistake.

I realize at this time that I'm not perfect and I'm going to get this parenting gig wrong. But I want to put my best foot forward. I know, KNOW, that the most important concept for her to take away is LOVE and I want her to know without a shadow of a doubt that I find favor in her and I love her despite her faults.

My goal this week is to look for ways to let her know I love her and hope that those positive interactions outshine the negative.


rebecca said...

It's like you were talking about me and Nikolas. Also first born, soon to turn 4, very dramatic, and what is it with children and their legs always hurting?! I'm always on the verge of taking him in for x-rays, then I remember that if I had grown 3 inches in one year my legs would probably hurt too.
OH, and this one kills me: Nik has started saying, "Mommy, don't be mad at me." Me: "I'm not mad." Nik: "Yes you are, your eyebrows are down. They need to be UP." Just that conversation helps me keep things in perspective and laugh in the midst of my frustration.
Motherhood, good times.

amanda said...

when i flash forward, i see this same scenario. beans is a little mini me and at times it's sweet and at times it's very draining! she is lucky to have you - the you knowing to take a step away, breathe and regroup. bc you are right, we are there models. good and bad.

hang in there mama :)

Shelby said...

Kate...I'm bawling reading this. It has been a rough week for me and this so describes how I feel and what I want to model for Jess. She sounds a whole bunch like Eloise and sometimes I can get so frustrated during the craziness of my day and I have to be so careful in how I react (it wouldn't be very pretty if I let it all out). Today has been particularly stressful around here and I thank you for this post.

I pray too that all the love I share with these two will outshine the negative. Pray and try harder to muster up the grace!!

Shelby said...

Oh..and it breaks my heart when she asks me if I'm mad at her. I always tell her I'm not mad, just frustrated and I explain why. She has begun saying she's sorry and asks if I forgive her(which breaks my heart even more sometimes). I don't want her to be like me in that I feel like sometimes I say "sorry" too much. Oh...parenthood is so tough sometimes. ):

AnonyMe said...

Kate, thanks for this. It is like a look at my interactions with my first, too, except that I very often mess it all up. Thank you for the reminder that I need to do better.

Dena said...

it must be in the air, these days, or something. Jessica has been a total wreck!! Everything sets her off.

And I NEEDED, and I mean N.E.E.D.E.D this post to remind me of who I want her to be and how to cope properly and gracefully.

Two things I haven't done very good at modeling.

Thanks Kate--for keeping it real.