the best thing motherhood taught me

I remember distinctly that Butterball and I were jostling within the aisles of Target when I texted Mumbles in pure exasperation. I just realized I have no control over our daughter. Send

Bing. Oh no, what did she do now?

Well, suffice to say our battle of wills that day ended with the both of us leaving a shopping cart of stuff in the middle of the store, and a wailing, writhing almost two-year-old raging at me all the way home.

But really, that text was a culmination of a week of inexplicable behavior. It seems my little angel has entered the before-then only mythical terrible twos.

And honestly, that was only the beginning. While there were plenty of great days, the number of  meltdown episodes went up and the scale of it too. We’re talking about not-funny-then-but-funny-now situations like insisting on walking through the Wegman’s parking lot without shoes on to downright scary stuff like a screaming rage with throw-up involved in a public space.

The thing is, I’m the type of person who likes to be in control. I like my schedule planned at least a week in advance. I like a fully stocked fridge and pantry in case of … emergencies. I like being behind the wheel rather than in the passenger seat of a car. It’s why I don’t like roller coasters, and I don’t mind knowing the ending of a movie or book before I’ve seen or read it.

I’m wracked by this lack of control. Whenever I put my foot down, it makes things worse. Whatever I say or ask, Butterball will do the opposite. Any attempt to establish control just led to a more agitated and defiant child.

I’m ashamed to admit, but I’m going to anyway. I WAS AFRAID OF BUTTERBALL. I didn’t know what to do with her, for her. I was really sucking at the most important job I’ve ever done.

It’s weird, but when Paris was attacked this past week, it had impacted me in a way I did not expect. It magnified my fear tenfold. This particular act of terror made me feel that it could very easily happen in my backyard. Suddenly, I couldn’t buy a ticket to a concert without worrying that I might not make it back to Butterball who still needs me. I have no control. I can’t say this enough. I was petrified.

My need to be in control. All my life, and it finally hit me that I hold on to it because I’m afraid of what happens if I don’t.

I’m afraid, afraid of my child, afraid I’m not able to be a good mother, afraid I won’t be there for her. AFRAID.

A week ago while freaking out over texts with a supermom of three/girlfriend (am I the only one who’s such a hot mess?), she said something that I wasn’t able to internalize at the time.

(Butterball’s) growing to the next stages so expressing herself is frustrating. it will pass…hang in there…she only has you as her mom.

As I mull over random thoughts these past few days, I began to watch Butterball with a different mindset. I feel how she’s trying to express herself with the limitations of a two-year-old. I notice how brave she is when she ventures into new territory. I see how she looks at me for reassurance and how a nod and a smile from mom allows her to move forward with confidence.

I now get that when Butterball is upset and frustrated, it’s really her way of trying to get a hold on things (just like her mom). And as I relax and allow tense situations with Butterball to flow rather than try to nip them in the bud, they also resolve more smoothly.

Anyway, the least I could as the adult is to actually be an adult about it and let Butterball be the child. I need to be the alpha male. (I watched Dog Whisperer, like, a lot.) I shouldn’t let Butterball whiff the scent of fear on me. She’s the one who’s allowed to be scared and as the mom, I’m the provider of comfort and security.

You know, there are just so many moments in life we cannot control. It’s like how my dad, with uncanny joy in his heart, is always fond of saying in some variation or other; Live in the present, be happy, because what will be will be.

Because there’s no point being afraid, is there? Not of tantrums. Not of terrorists. All I can do is love my baby through all her struggles as she grows into this complicated world. From love and kindness, all the other good stuff follows. Butterball only has me as her mom and if she can’t get that from me and Mumbles, then how can she grow to expect all that good stuff of anyone else?

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