How My Daughter Became a Delight to Me

You may remember me writing about my sweet Caroline in this post, Loving a Wild One.

She was the one who humbled me as a mom. She was also the one who I thought was going to cause me to

Lose.

My.

Mind.

For real.

Here is a little excerpt from Desperate about her:

After approximately one thousand and one times of Caroline getting out of bed, I was ready to head to the mad house. I would have happily packed my bags and gone to bounce off the white walls. It was that bad. Spanking didn’t work, sternness didn’t work, ignoring her didn’t work, begging and tears didn’t work; she laughed in the face of my formula-wielding ways. The only reason she finally fell asleep was because tiredness overcame her. She won. I was defeated. I cried again and again.

The reality sunk in: Caroline was not going to fit in any box. There would be no pat answer for how to raise and discipline her. I was not prepared to raise an out-of-the-box (as Sally calls her) child.

But you know, that precious girl is now such a delight to me. Truly! I mean, not in mom speak, in for real, she’s a joy to be around, truth. She is sweet and kind and {mostly} obedient and fun and just lovely all-around.

She delights my soul. But it didn’t just happen. I’d like to share with you some things I think made a difference in how she has changed.

How My Daughter Became a Delight to Me

I Quit

I had too much going on, and the fact is, I was neglecting my daughter. I felt like I was losing her heart, and at such a young age! At two and three years old, I had already offended her to where she would push me away. I finally just started quitting things, including the Allume conference. Jesus said that He left the 99 for the 1. I took a cue from Him and decided that I needed to walk away from most of what I was doing and go after my one, my Caroline. And after her I went. I was determined to win her heart, and you know what? I have.

No regrets.

Also, by slowly taking outside work off my plate, I became much less stressed, which was helpful all around.

I Gave Her My Time

In going after her and her heart, I had to give her my time. She needed me, and isn’t that exactly what little ones need, their mamas? I really began offering myself to her, loving her, nurturing her, working with her, encouraging her, and really being for her. In practical terms, I began spending more time with her, being patient when she messed up and teaching her instead of yelling at her, smiling more at her, rubbing her arms and legs and head, reading to  her, cuddling, snuggling in bed with her, talking with her, and doing fun things with her. I don’t get it all right (I still get impatient, yell sometimes, etc.), but I’m present with my family, and that has made a huge difference.

I Got Wise

It finally sunk in that without time and intention and hard work, I wasn’t going to raise my children well. And by “well” I mean intentionally teaching and training them in how to do life.

Recently Sally turned 60, and for her birthday all her children came home and spent a week with her. One of her children said, “You took the time to teach me, and you poured into me, and wherever I go I have the wisdom to make decisions, use manners, rely on scripture to guide me, and I realize how much time it took for you to accomplish all that. I realize you gave everything in your life to raise us to be great people.”

That’s what I want, but it’s not going to come easy, and it’s not going to come if I don’t pay attention and work for it.

She Matured

For the love, my sweet girl was only two years old when I started to feel like I was going to go under with her! I thought being two was a forever sentence, and life would never change. I also thought all two-year olds would obey the same. Laugh now. She had her own gig, and she was not going to go along with my plans (and I wasn’t going to beat her to make her). But here’s the thing, we both matured.

For one, Sally told reminded me that, “She is only two, and I really think if she could obey you she would.” Sally encouraged me to spend more time with her, and to be patient with her, and to fill her needs. As I shared above, I gave myself to that good work. The other thing though, and the really big thing to keep in mind, is that little ones grow up! This is the nature of a child. We need to be patient as they mature, and in the meantime, give them what they need: our time and love. Discipline is in there, but sometimes we discipline for immaturity, which I think will do more harm than good.

All this to say, if you have a little one that is making you feel crazy, cut yourself some slack, cut them some slack, and remember: they mature (if you help them).

Keep on

Motherhood is hard work if we give ourselves to it, but it’s good work. We will mess up so many times, but we will also get so many things right.

Don’t give up. I know some days you feel like throwing in the towel, but listen to me: hang in there. What you do, it matters. Keep loving and snuggling your babes; you’ve got this. For real.

Keep on!

SM

Sarah Mae

Sarah Mae spends her days home-making, home-educating, writing, reading, and drinking salted caramel mochas. Her family embraces life in the beautiful Amish country-side of Pennsylvania. She is the owner of the community site Allume and the co-host of the national Christian women’s social media conference.