Keeping Joy, Giving Choices.

You’ve all heard it said – the twos are TERRIBLE. And as my little turns two in just 10 short days, the fear is looming. What exactly am I in for, here?

Tantrums? Check. Asserting independence? Check. Using the word no more than needed? Check. Check. Check.

But all of this has already happened for us. And it has happened more then once. Between colic, food allergies, sleep challenges, doctors who labeled me the “crazy first time mom” AND a strong willed little man, I have had my work cut out for me. I have never been more sleep deprived, overwhelmed, emotional, and worn down. My patience has been tested. My ability to live on 3 hours of sleep for months at a time was put into practice. And my confidence in myself as a mama was challenged time and time again.

But through it all I have learned that I am capable of more than I ever thought possible. That as a mama we find a way to push through and be all we need to be, no matter what the circumstances are.

So here’s the truth: even if the twos really are terrible, I can do it. And you can do it, too. There is no if we make it through, only when we make it through. And this, just like every other hard moment, is just a season.

So as I prepare to enter the world of terrible twos I will put into practice what I have already learned as a mama: when we give choices, our joy is saved.

Independence and autonomy is normal and a needed skill for our littles. My job? It is to help my little man learn how to be independent, how to be respectful, and how to make good choices. It is to teach him how to be kind, how to love, and how to contribute to this world in a positive way. But all of this starts at home. It starts with me. So as I enter into a season of power struggles, testing, and tantrums, I must remember that I am his model. He will be more influenced by my actions, than my words. And he watches every. single. thing.

Power struggles? No problem.

Here’s the deal: these do not have to be a part of our motherhood. We are the adult and he is the little. Our job is to nurture, meet needs, and set limits in a loving way. There is no power struggle because we are calm, we are loving, and we are firm in our limits. There is no need for yelling and there is no need for physical interventions. So the next time he throws those legos down the stairs or refuses to get into his carseat, I will breathe. I will stay calm and I will give choices. I will offer him an opportunity to have independence in a positive and respectful way. It will go a little something like this…

“We have to sit in our carseats and buckle up because it keeps us safe. My job is to keep you safe. Mama buckles in her seat too. Would you like to get into your special seat by yourself or would you like mama to help you?”

1. Explain why this is necessary. 2. Give a choice. Both are choices that I can live with and end with the same result. 3. Make the choice for him if necessary after 30 seconds.

When we yell and loose control, we model that for our littles. When we get physical, we model physical behavior as a way to get what we want. And most importantly, when we stay calm, we show our littles that we are safe, we are loving, and nothing they do, good or bad, will change the way we feel about them. And that is the message I want to send my son.

It is not about who wins the battle over eating dinner, picking up toys, or wearing pants (even though it feels that way sometimes), but rather it is about who wins the battle for his character, his integrity, his responsibility, and his soul. It is not a matter of “because I said so”, but rather a matter of am I raising a loving and kind man who will go out and do good in this world?

The mundane moments of motherhood are hard. The parenting battles are draining and beyond frustrating. It is easy to feel like nothing we do really matters or makes a difference. And I know that sometimes you just want to hide in your closet with a carton of ice cream. But it does matter, mama. Every single moment matters. Because what you are doing is raising a tiny human. You are shaping and modeling and contributing to a future world that we will never get to be a part of. You are making a difference every. single. day.

So the next time you are cleaning up toys for the one millionth time, rocking a colicky baby for hours each night, or cooking a dinner that your toddler refuses to eat, remember this: choices save joy. And just like our little gets opportunities to make choices in a positive way, we do too. We get to choose to be calm over angry. We get to choose to show love rather than anger. We get to choose to have patience. And we get to choose to do this mama thing in a way that will spread love and grace and good.

And that is what life is really all about.

xo – Bethany

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Remember, you were never created to do it all and you were never created to do it alone.