because I can't even handle a 3-year-old.
All I have to say is this: I used to be one of those people who had lots of opinions about parenting and would be fairly quick to criticize (silently, in my head) when I saw parents who didn't do things "right."
Then I started to pour my heart into this child who has become my light and my joy. And I've been able to care for her, and feed her, and fight the government for her, and read to her, and discipline her. And go to bed at the end of the day satisfied that she was safe and happy.
And then she began to approach her 3rd birthday. And she is still just as much of a delight. And she is even more fun to be around. And she has more personality than I ever imagined could be present in such a small person. But, she also tests...and tests...and TESTS. And tests again just to make sure that you haven't changed your mind. And while she won't sit on my lap and watch a movie for more than 30 seconds, she will beg to be carried while I am doing anything that requires two hands. And she will run away from me with tears in her eyes yelling, "No Mommy...NOOOOOOO!!!" when I tell her that she indeed cannot have ANOTHER cookie. And she will wait until we have pulled on the highway before she states, "Sunda has to go potty...again."
And now, I go to bed wondering, "Did I say anything but "No" today?" "Am I making some colossal mistakes that will reflect upon her later?" "Is she going to feel like she grew up with the strictest parents in the world?" "Are we being strict enough?
I wonder if it's like, the older they get, the more you question, "Am I doing the right thing?" My mom used to say that anyone can care for and feed a baby, it's when they start walking and talking that it gets challenging. I think that both are challenging. But I have definitely been turning heavenward lately and saying, "Lord? What am I supposed to do? What is the right thing? HELP."
And the Lord has been reminding me of the way that He disciplines us. He doesn't roughly pull the bottom out from under us at the first sign of our rebellion or questioning. He reminds us gently of who He is. He woos us back into obeying Him because it's not only the RIGHT thing but the TRUE thing. However, He's never manipulated. He never goes back on His promises because we state our opinions and wishes loudly. He just remains the same. And welcomes us back when we stray. And He isn't afraid to show us who the Sovereign One is.
So, maybe tomorrow I'll skim over the little rebellions that tend to make up quite a bit of my lovely daughter's day lately. Instead of reprimanding her or disciplining her every time she strays from the path that I "think" is so clearly laid for her, I'll just stand firm. Refusing to be manipulated, but willing to extend grace. Willing to extend as much grace as neccesary as long as she still understands who the boss is.
Instead of saying "No!" over and over, maybe I'll just try, "I love you." I don't think it will make our day perfect. It probably won't make others stop and wonder at my brilliant parenting skills. I don't even know if the top Christian parenting books would agree. But I'll let God work that one out. My wisdom and knowledge and strength haven't really ever worked. I'm glad His does.