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The Present

Yesterday I talked about the early days today I’m going to share a little bit about the present.

It’s fun to look back and reminisce on days gone by. I had a great time looking through the old pictures to add them to my post. As I was sorting through them all we shared stories, we laughed, we smiled. We had a great time and we both said we’d love to go back and re-live some of those moments.

Truth is, that I wouldn’t give up what we have now to go back.

Our life now is pretty amazing. We have loved on each other hard, we’ve struggled through some dark days together, we’ve had plenty of adventures, and we’ve got two awesome kids. The thing is, it’s not over!

We are having such an awesome time now introducing our kids to the things we love. It’s so fun.

It’s amazing to watch Curtis be a Daddy. He is the apple of E’s eye and those two are a perfect pair. He loves L with all his heart and she rewards him every time he comes home with a very enthusiastic squealing of  “da da da da da da” it makes my heart melt.

I have to say, my man, he’s awesome. The two of us we really are partners. We both pull equal but different loads in our home. He’s a great provider, he is a hands on Dad. He loves chocolate chip cookies so much that he has taken over that department because I couldn’t keep up with the demand. 🙂

Our life is so fun. We have something real, something special, and something that we both want to foster and grow.

We’ve grown together, really we’ve become adults together. We’ve changed over the years, we’ve matured, we’ve learned.

Here’s the thing, we’re not done. So while the last 12 years have been amazing, I love our now, and I am excited for our future.

I hope that some day down the road we’re that little old couple that everyone thinks is so sweet because they’re so in love.

 

Photo Credit: Jennifer Foik Photography

Kiboshed by the Kiddies

Ok, so I was going to follow along in my marriage theme today however that was kiboshed by my kiddies.

More accurately by E’s blankie.

Yes you read that right. E’s blankie took up my “free” time today.

This you see is Eden’s blankie:

E's Blankie - pre-repair

E’s Blankie – pre-repair

If any of you have children with a blankie attachment you will understand that this is a HUGE problem. Like devastating, earth shattering, world stopping and, most dreadfully sleep ending.

I made this blanket for E before she was born. I actually made a number of blankets for her before she was born, this is the one she became attached to.

She’s been sleeping bum in the air face mashed in this blanket since she was about 7 months old.

When I noticed that one of the strands of yarn had broken and begun to unravel I asked E for permission (because you don’t mess with the blankie) to repair it.

This is what it looks like now:

E's Blankie with a temporary repair

E’s Blankie with a temporary repair

I intend to get more “matching” yarn (I say it like that because it’s so faded and dingy that getting new yarn in the original colour is not really going to match) to make a new square to sew over top but when we went to Walmart today to purchase said yarn they no longer had the right colour.

In some ways this follows my marriage theme because as much as Curtis and I try to make our relationship the priority sometimes the kids rule the roost.

In this particular case fixing this blankie and keeping it in good shape is a much better use of my time in the long term to keep everyone around here happy. Sometimes you have to sacrifice in the short term to make a worthwhile long term investment!

 

When your spouse goes away…

Ok, continuing on in this weeks marriage vein, here’s my question: When your spouse goes away do you miss them?

I’m not talking about missing the extra set of hands to help with the kids, wash the dishes or do the laundry (although sometimes those things are nice). I’m talking about the emotional, physical and intellectual connection that you have with them when they’re around.

Sounds simple enough and the resounding answer here is YES. Curtis is missed by ALL around here when he’s not home. Desperately so.

Last weekend Curtis went away to the men’s retreat with the men from our church. I have to tell you I really missed him. A LOT.

I think we noticed it even more this time because not only was he away but he was out of cell range too.

Often when Curtis goes away to a conference or something we’re in pretty constant contact with each other. Really because of the nature of his business we’re in constant contact almost all the time.

I send him texts about our day, what we’re up to, funny things the kids have done, or pleas for sanity when they’re driving me bonkers :).

Because he’s his own boss he can set his own hours and respond accordingly.

Sometimes he’ll ask me not to bug him  because he’s working on a technical project (which is fine) he’ll get back to me later. He also works from 6 am to noon or 1 pm. He’s home by 1pm most days, 2pm at the latest.

All this to say that when he’s not around his presence is missed. I love having our afternoons together. We take the kids to the park, sit on the couch and have coffee, do household chores, and cook dinner together. We’re together A LOT and we like it that way.

We know that we’re really spoiled in this respect and so thankful that he’s able to schedule his day in whatever way works best for our family.

Having him away over the weekend and not even being able to text was a very different experience. I missed our connection to each other and felt really lonely at times.

We filled our time well. Really we had a very busy weekend with swimming, friends and open houses but still. These are things that I’m still often chatting with him about even if he’s away somewhere.

Another thing that’s really normal for us when he’s away is to Skype or FaceTime after the kids are in bed. It’s a great way to see each other, catch up on the day, and just be aware of what’s going on in each of our lives while we’re apart. With him out of cell range we can’t do that. (I call my parents instead, I’m sure they LOVE it when Curtis is away.)

It’s always fun to watch movies he wouldn’t want to watch with me, chat with my Mom a little bit extra (sorry Mom), and spend loads of extra time with friends without feeling guilty about leaving him behind, but we’re always very happy when he gets home.

To celebrate his return yesterday we actually drove out to camp to pick him up then spent the day at the beach. The kids were in heaven, and I love getting to watch them be loved on by their Daddy. It’s pretty special.

Here’s to my awesome man! I’m glad he enjoyed himself got some R&R and got to strengthen his relationships with the men in our church, but I’m SO happy he’s home. I miss him when he’s away. We were made to be together and we like it that way!

Is it Extraordinary?

Our anniversary is coming up on the weekend so to celebrate in my own weird way I’m going to be writing posts this week about our marriage and relationship. Before I get too far though I want to ask you: Is your marriage Extraordinary? Think on that as you read through my posts this week.

Now before I go too far I want to share with you a resource (that caused me to ask this question in the first place) that Curtis and I have come across recently. It’s the ONE Extraordinary Marriage podcast.

I’m not sure where we found this, I think it was something that was being discussed in one of the other podcasts that we listen to, but WOW. What an amazing marriage resource.

This couple sits down weekly and openly discusses their marriage for all to hear. They air their personal business, they talk through issues that they’re having and they offer suggestions as to how to get over hurdles in your own marriage in a straightforward manner.

They don’t beat around the bush either. I have never before come across a Christian couple (or any couple for that matter) that so openly shares about ALL aspects of marriage. They talk about kids, family, sex, conflict and conflict resolution, parenting, priorities, dreams, you name it they address it.

The thing that I think has resonated the most with both of us is that regardless of your beliefs the relational information they’re offering holds true. They’re open, they’re honest, they share very personal details about their lives, and yet they aren’t doing it for show. They’re not being dirty, or porny, or oversharing, just truthful and to the point.

When we stumbled across this podcast I would say that we were maintaining the status quo here. We were working together to get things done but it was all work and no play for us. We were discussing the parenting, the business, the chores etc. but we weren’t connecting with each other in a meaningful way and we were both missing each other.

I think that most couples with kids got through that at some point in their relationship. It’s easy to push your relationship aside for the sake of the kids because they’re busy, they’re fun, they’re fabulous, but they can also be exhausting and by the time they’re in bed you’re both just done.

So we started listening to the ONE podcast and have since gone back and started from the beginning – its that good. They have about 275 episodes now and we went back to episode one. We’re both listening at our own pace but we’re bringing things to the table as we come across something that resonates with us.

It had had a HUGE impact on our marriage. We’ve become closer, we’ve both been happier, and we’re way more connected. We’ve been working on re-prioritizing our lives so that we can put our marriage ahead of the myriad of other things that are part of our lives right now. It makes sense doesn’t it? I’ve committed to spend my LIFE with him till death do us part and as such I want it to be a damn good life. When the kids are gone he’ll still be here, and I want to know who this person I’m doing life with is.

So if things are awesome, if things are OK, if things are status quo, or if things really such in your marriage right now I encourage you to check out ONE. Listen to the podcast, read the blog. Spend some time prioritizing your spouse. It’s worth it!

 

Date, What’s a Date?

Maybe you’ve been there maybe you haven’t, but that moment when you sit down next to your spouse and say “Hi my name is Cynthia, what’s yours?” should really never happen.

You know what I mean. You get busy – in the literal running around after kids, doing skating, preschool, doctors appointments, work, & friends kind of way.

All of a sudden you sit on the couch next to your spouse and you feel like you haven’t talked to them in months. You need to get to know each other again.

Curtis and I experienced this just a few weeks ago.

We were feeling lonely and disconnected from each other. We were starving for some time alone together out of our house without our kids or other people. We wanted to hang out.

We started talking about a date. We realized the last date we had planned was way back in early December and we had cancelled it because the kids were sick. We intended to reschedule over the holidays of course. Prior to that we couldn’t recall the last time we had been out together. It might have been October when my parents were here to visit. It was April. This needed to change.

We had to refresh our memories. We were unsure of what this thing society calls a date really was. We decided to redefine it.

We realized that what often deterred us from going out was cost. I’m not complaining I’m just stating the truth. When it came right down to it and it was time to put a date on the budget page we often chose to spend our money differently. We had a hard time justifying it.

It was time to re-prioritize.

It’s funny I always think of a date in the traditional as seen on TV kind of date – dinner, movie, some other extravagant event, evening, late nights etc. The reality of this is that I’m not a dinner and a movie kind of girl and he’s not a dinner and a movie kind of guy. If that’s what we want we can stay home and enjoy from the comfort of our couch.

When we actually talked about the things that we enjoy doing together, the best times we’ve had and when we’ve connected the best it’s always been when we’re outside.

Having this conversation was one of the best things we could have done because we realized that to us a “date” is a hiking trip, a run, a paddle, a bike ride or some other outdoor endeavour. None of those things cost us any more than the babysitters time.

All of a sudden a whole new world opened up to us.

So. We went out. Our first date in an unnamed amount of time was a bike ride. It was SOOOOOOOO GOOOOOOD! I can’t even express it.

Relaxing together doing something that we both enjoy was amazing. We tagged a coffee on to the end cause really, who can survive without coffee?! And we went home after 3 hours feeling reconnected and refreshed ready for anything the munchkins could throw at us.

That afternoon was such a good reminder to us that we need to make each other a priority. It’s so easy to brush each other off when other things come up but really we committed our lives to each other. When the kids are gone – and one day they will be – Curtis will still be here.

I don’t want to look up in 15-20 years and realize I have a roommate not a partner. That I am living with a stranger.

I want to be that couple who still loves each other dearly after 50 years. Still holds hands as we walk along the beach. Still proclaims that the other is our best friend.

Being that couple takes a lot of effort. To us it means prioritizing the other. Not pushing each other off when something else comes up. The best thing we can do for each other and for our kids is work at our relationship. Make our marriage a priority. For us right now, that means dating. For you maybe it’s something else.

So, we date. Next weekend we’re going on a trail run. I can’t wait!

 

Dare to dream

What do you dream about? Curtis and I have been talking a lot about our “dreams” lately.

What do we want? What kind of lifestyle do we ultimately want to live? Are we happy? If we could do ANYTHING what would it be? Is it what we’re doing now?

These are all things that we’ve been talking about lately. Why you ask?

Well partly because our house is for sale. We’re excited to be selling but not sure what we’re going to do after. We’re planning on staying where we are but for a number of reasons we’re not necessarily buying another house right away.

Being 100% debt free – even for a short period of time – will be AMAZING. I can’t wait!

It’s got us dreaming.

Eventually we’ve want to buy another house and right now we intend for that house to be here in Chilliwack, but not right away.

We’ve been going back to the days early on in our marriage when we had all kinds of dreams about the things we hoped to do with our lives. We’ve been talking about the experiences we want to offer our kids. We have some pretty big dreams.

We’ve also been talking a lot about what I want to do. I know this may sound funny, but for some reason being a stay at home mom is kind of like being a newly graduated high school student. I am regularly asked what I want to do when my kids go to school (much like the high school student is asked what they want to do when they grow up). Right now my answer is I don’t know.

So I’ve been dreaming. Trying to figure out what I want to do. Do I want to pursue another career path? What would that look like? I know I want to be home after school for the kids so that someone is here, so what kind of job would I be looking at? What would I like to pursue, what interests me, how much time do I want to invest? I have a few years to figure it out but it’s something that we’ve been talking about a lot.

It’s fun to dream. It’s brought Curtis and I closer and it gets contagious. To dare to dream is something that so many people are afraid to do which I think is so funny because really what are you hurting in entertaining a dream?

For us sometimes those dreams get us through.

Things get tough and we feel like we’re just slogging along so we start dreaming. We spend some of our spare time throwing around ideas. It helps keep us going and it makes life a lot more fun!

So what about you, do you dare to dream? Do you dream big? Do you find it encouraging? I hope so. If you haven’t had any big dreams in a while I would encourage you to spend some time dreaming!

Consistent Parenting – sigh

We’ve been having good days around here for the most part but E seems to be going through a phase of explosive tantrums.

Life will be just going along and everything is fine and then the smallest thing will set her off and BOOM it’s epic.

I’ve been at a bit of a loss as to how to cope.

This is not behaviour that we accept in our house and so this kind of epic tantrum results in her being removed from the situation (usually to her room, sometimes to ours).

But let me tell you, it’s hard. I sometimes think parenting is the definition of insanity – you know, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Across the board parenting experts will say that consistent parenting is important. And we try. Sometimes however I want to smack those parenting experts with their own book and ask them if they have ever actually been in the situation with their own child.

It’s funny though how sometimes a few days of consistency in the face of a behavioural issue will resolve the issue never to be seen again, and sometimes it takes time. A lot of time.

Something we’ve learned here recently and have really been working on is that our own response will either fan the flames, or douse them. If we respond equally as explosively then the situation will escalate. If we can react calmly without showing our own frustration at the event then the situation diffuses pretty quickly.

There are a few things that I have found encouraging lately. One, is that I’ve been hearing from friends that they’re going through the same things with their 4 year olds – it’s so nice to know that we’re not alone!

Another is that on a podcast I listen to the couple talks openly about their own 4 year old and the struggles they have with her from time to time. They frequently mention the explosive tantrums. What I always find as a good reminder is that they talk about her like she’s a baby – like she’s little.

My kids are little. L at 15 months needs very little discipline as of yet E at 4 needs more firm guidance but she is still little. I forget this. I remember her as a wee baby and she is so much bigger now than she was then. I’ve seen the progression from babe in arms to independent child and I often think of her as so big and mature.  When you spend your days with little people it’s easy to forget that they are little because it becomes the norm!

My point is that being reminded that they are little, young, immature, helps me to remember that I can’t have big behavioural expectations. They feel emotions in big ways, but they have no way of regulating them. It’s our job to teach them.

E especially is little miss drama. She feels everything to the MAX – love, excitement, happiness, fear, anger, and everything in between. 90% of the time she’s happy, sweet and tons of fun. She is an awesome, loving, kind, big hearted kid. She is an excellent big sister, because while she’s not overly motherly, she LOVES her sister. Deeply. She  plays with her, is generally patient, and at least tries (but doesn’t often succeed) to be gentle.

This also means that frustration, anger, and disappointment come out in big ways. Always at the most inconvenient and embarrassing moments (because why not). It is my job as her parent to lovingly and consistently teach her how to manage her emotions. How to show them appropriately.

It’s so easy to tell her to calm down, stop crying, or get over it. But that’s not really the point. The point is to teach her how to recognize the emotion and respond appropriately. After all you and I feel all these things too, it’s a normal part of being human!

I still haven’t come up with the amazing perfect parenting strategy for managing these behaviours, we try to be consistent but we’re also always trying new things. So if any of you have a great tip for diffusing a major tantrum please share I am open to suggestions.

Retiring our beloved teapot on the trail - a local tradition on this hike

Fun with Friends!

We had SO MUCH FUN with friends today. This has been the best days of summer so far and I hope there are many more like it to come!

Summer has been a bit slow starting for us we’ve been having a hard time finding a good groove. It seems that we keep missing friends, or they’re away, or we’re committed to something else.

Today I think we found our groove.  I sent a friend a text last week asking if she wanted to go for a hike up a local hill that’s very kid friendly and hit the beach afterwards.

Retiring our beloved teapot on the trail - a local tradition on this hike

Retiring our beloved teapot on the trail – a local tradition on this hike

Last summer we went hiking and/or to the beach with her and her kids at least once a week, but life changes and thus far this summer we just haven’t been able to swing it.

Today we had the joy of hiking with her and her kids in the morning. It was a “short” hike but so good for our kids to all be together again. (The distance isn’t far but when you have three littles walking and one being carried time and distance don’t necessarily correspond.)

E falls in the middle of her two littles and LOVES her older daughter – like idol status. She was SO excited to get to run alongside her friend and try to keep up. Plus she had a new backpack that she’s breaking in for a hiking trip later in the summer with Daddy.  L slept or coo’d happily in the baby carrier all the way and all the littles did great.

 

E and her friend

E and her friend

After our hike we all headed to the beach to meet another friend and her kids for the afternoon.  Between the three of us there were eight kids at the beach. Everyone played well together and it was one of those days that you’re loathe to see end. Seriously none of us wanted to pack up and go home.

E made a major accomplishment today, she figured out the basic technique of swimming. This is HUGE for her. While she’s never been shy about the splash pad, pools and especially beaches make her VERY nervous. She’s been in the same FIRST level at swimming lessons ALL WINTER. She loves going but is timid and rarely lets go of her instructor.

We’ve been at the beach two other times so far this summer, the first she didn’t go in past her knees. Then she was holding my hand and SCREAMING (I forced her in to wash the sand off before leaving. I know I’m a horrible mother).

Last week when we were there as a family she wouldn’t go in unless one of us was holding her, and refused to go further than chest deep water. She did eventually relax and at least enjoy it.

I didn’t expect her to embrace swimming so soon after the last two trips. I figured we were in for another summer of playing in the and by the shore in ankle deep water (this is FINE with me, I just want her to be safe and comfortable around water not necessarily an all star swimmer).

Today right away she wanted me to take her in.

SWIMMING! I know it's shallow but I promise she wasn't pushing off the bottom :)

SWIMMING! I know it’s shallow but I promise she wasn’t pushing off the bottom 🙂

Maybe it was seeing her friends jumping off the dock and swimming around on their own. Maybe it’s the crazy heat wave we’ve been having. Maybe it’s the frequency of swimming right now (lessons once a week and at least one trip a week to the beach) or a combination of the three. Who knows.

If I know anything about my girl it’s that she’ll DO IT when SHE wants to. Not one second before and no time later than she decides is ok either.

Today she actually held my shoulders and let me swim her out to the end of the dock. She also let me hold her in the swimming position in shallow water. I was impressed just by those things.

It’s like it just clicked for her. All of a sudden she understood how she should be positioned and how she needed to move her arms and legs. I had to go in to shore to feed L, but she still wanted to swim. So in knee deep water she figured it out. SO FUN.

It was so fun to watch because she would swim the length of the swimming area in knee deep water, then get out, run back to where she started and do it again. It never occurred to her that she could turn around and swim back.

She repeated the cycle for about an hour and a half and I had to pry her out of the water to go home. She was so proud of herself, and I am a proud mama tonight too. I love that kid!

Best things ever today: her contagious giggles as she RAN down the hiking trail after her friends, and the equally elated giggling that came with figuring out how to swim.

We ended our day today by taking Curtis to the garden we’ve been “keeping” at a friends place. – I say this very loosely because I have a hard time growing grass in our yard, and tonight I realized that I can no longer distinguish some of the weeds from the plants that are supposed to be there – oops.

It was a perfect summer’s day.  After so much fun with friends, I’m sad to see this day end. It was jam packed with hiking, swimming, gardening, playing and visiting yet it didn’t feel crazy rushed or busy.  This is exactly what summer days should be. To top it off, my house is pretty clean – we haven’t been here all day!

Hope you had a great day too, and that there are many more sunny summer days to come 🙂

Who wouldn't want to spend their days with this face?

Redefining Value

I’ve been struggling lately with my definition of value. Specifically with my personal economic value. It seems I need to work on redefining value in relation to myself.

 

Love this little face

Love this little face

 

 

Curtis and I do a lot of dreaming. We look forward to the things we would someday like to do. It keeps us going, and helps us to stay on track heading towards our goals. Something we often talk about is what I want to “do.”

 

For some reason I feel like I should be contributing financially to the bottom line in our home. I feel like I’m not adding value to our home if I’m not earning some form of income. I toss around a lot of ideas about things that I could do to earn SOME form of income.

 

The thing is I don’t really WANT to do a lot of the things we’ve talked about. When it comes right down to it ten years from now I want to be doing exactly what I’m doing now. Loving on our kids. Caring for them daily, taking them to school, the park, swimming, and whatever else it may be that they are interested in.

 

Baby Giggles

Baby Giggles

 

My life today is exactly what I want it to be, and how I want it to remain. (If my kids could stay little that would be awesome too but that really is dreaming!)

 

So WHY this feeling that if I am not earning MONEY that I am not valuable? The things I do in our home and with our kids are valuable. They have eternal meaning, and a lasting impact on our family.

 

Today after leaving Curtis here with the kids for most of the day he told me how much he appreciates what I do. He graciously acknowledged how much work it is to take care of our little loves for the day.  He told me it was just as hard or harder than what he does day to day earning an income.

 

Without coming out and saying it he told me he valued me (and he didn’t even realize it)!

 

Wardrobe Consultation

Wardrobe Consultation – no you cannot wear your Tinker Bell costume tonight

 

I am fortunate enough to be able to stay home with our family full time which is a blessing a lot of people don’t have. I have never felt undervalued by Curtis, he always appreciates the role I play in our home. He accepts my failures and we laugh our way through many of my oopses.  Again WHY do I feel such a need to earn an income?

 

We do have some big financial goals, buying a new house, going on a holiday, saving for the kids college educations etc. There has definitely been more than one occasion that I feel frustrated at the pace of our progress so maybe that’s it.

 

 

Who wouldn't want to spend their days with this face?

Who wouldn’t want to spend their days with this face?

 

I think it’s more the response I often get when asked what I “do”. Maybe you know how it goes:

Stranger: So what do you “do”?,

me: Oh, I stay home with my kids

Stranger:  awkwardly withdraws from conversation while summing me up as some uneducated frumpy housewife – THANKS

I need to start responding with: I’m the Director of Operations at McHale Inc. my responsibilities include, sanitation, bookings, time management, sleep specialist, event planning, interventions, overseeing leisure activities, nutritional planning and arbitration, wardrobe consultation, K9 activities, and financial management.”

 

Event Planning

Event Planning – splash park!

Maybe then I won’t be dismissed as the ominous “housewife” – you know that all encompassing title that you’re given under “occupation” on government forms – and just about every other form that you fill out anywhere.

 

Sleep Specialist

Sleep Specialist – transferring from carseat to couch undisturbed

 

I also like the line where you fill in your income: 0

 

I love what I do. I love my kids, and my man. I love being able to play, cuddle, kiss owies, read stories, tuck in, discipline, encourage and celebrate the three people that are most important to me EVERY DAY. You know what, sometimes it’s really easy. Sometimes it’s really hard. Either way what I do here on a day to day basis IS VALUABLE.

 

Bookings - Preschool end of year celebration

Bookings – Preschool end of year celebration

 

I need to remind myself of that. I also need to let it go when I feel dismissed by some stranger in the grocery store because I don’t have a “job”. So what?! I  love what I “do”. Not many people are lucky enough to be able to say that!

 

What about you do you love what you do? I genuinely hope so.

Can't stop loving this kid!

Adding Tools to my Toolbox

I’ve recently been reading “You Can’t Make Me [But I Can Be Persuaded]” by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias.  It’s a parenting book that will hopefully fill my Mommy tool box with useful tools to help this strong willed Momma lovingly guide my strong willed daughter through this thing called life while highlighting and bringing out the positive aspects of both of our personalities.

If I’ve said this once I’ve said it 100 times; E and I are two people cut from the same cloth. She is a 3 year old version of me. Our strong wills battle against each other on a daily basis. I often find the two of us locked into the same battles over and over again. My will against hers. The problem is that I am the parent here. I’m supposed to be the mature one in this relationship and yet I regularly find that my 3 year old gets the better of me.

I hear myself speaking to her, issuing commands, and rather unsuccessfully trying to “negotiate” and I think to myself “no wonder she doesn’t want to capitulate, I wouldn’t either.” I regularly find myself fearing that I am going to shred any hope of ever having a relationship with my daughter to tiny little irreparable pieces before she even enters school. I want to avoid this with all my heart.

What do I long for? Well, I long for a slightly less co-dependent Lorelai & Rory relationship. I want a closeness with her – and any other kids that come along – that is secure. I want her to know she can come to me no matter what. I want her to know she is unconditionally loved. Period. My question has been HOW? This kid gets the better of me on a regular basis and I lose my cool. HOW.

Enter my current book choice. I generally hate “labels” like “Strong Willed Child.” I think they have such negative connotations. I don’t view E’s strong will (or my own) as a negative trait. This stubborn streak that is firmly implanted in her is exactly what will someday make her a tenacious, competent, intelligent adult that knows what she wants AND how to go about accomplishing the goal. I do not want to crush that in her. I do want to help her guide it and learn to use this personality trait as positively as possible.

Can't stop loving this kid!

Can’t stop loving this kid!

As I’ve been reading (and I’m only half way through) I have been able to put SO many little things into practice that have already made my days easier. One of the things that has struck me most (and that I have been working through for a while even before starting in on this book) is how much I need to work on MYSELF. This isn’t all about molding E into an awesome little person. It’s also about molding her Mommy into an adult that can pick her battles. Be gracious, firm, loving, patient, and kind. I need to be a better person for her. I need to be able to move past my own desire to stick to my guns (sometimes) in order to help E learn to channel her own strong will into something useful.

So much of parenting is about the parent. How I react, how I respond, how I understand my child. Being able to put her first and me second. Choosing my battles wisely, allowing that outfit that makes my skin crawl slide because it makes her feel like a princess. I have to resist my own urge to push certain issues to the death so that she knows that when I do press an issue it’s really time to listen. I need to choose my battles wisely. I need to ask myself more often; if a month from now, six months, a year, five years, ten years from now does this issue I’m fighting over today really matter? If the answer is no then why am I fighting it?

One thing this book is hammering home is that my approach is everything. Deep down I knew this. I’ve been struggling with it for a while just not really sure of how to change it. What reading this book has done so far is give me some of the tools I need to do something about it. It’s been showing me how to best approach a topic and garner the best possible outcome, all the while understanding that these techniques aren’t always going to work, and sometimes we will have to do things the hard way.

Something else that has also been significant to me is that her response and willingness to comply with me is directly related to how much she values her relationship with me. It all comes back to relationship. Which is what I want so desperately to preserve with her.

So is this one book going to give me all the answers? No. So much of this process is trial and error. Figuring out what works for me and what works for her. What garners a good response and what is ineffective, while understanding that what works once may not work every time. One book, ten books, or a hundred books are not going to unlock all the secrets to parenting without ever butting heads with your child. That said, anything that makes this process a little bit easier is welcome!

Is this book going to have a significant impact on the way that I parent YES. It already has. I can already tell you that E and I have had much easier days since I started reading. I knew that I needed to make some changes in the way I was parenting I just wasn’t sure how. Now I have a few more tools that are helping my days run more smoothly.  I feel a bit more capable of navigating a day with my little one. I don’t feel like every task is a struggle, and I am enjoying it. I still have a long way to go, and will always be working on learning to do things better but today I would say that we are making progress!