When I was a kid, I was a lot like my 3-year-old daughter Annabel: very chatty, very busy and very strong-willed. Stubborn, hard-headed, the whole shebang. It was predestined -- growing up, many adults would sing-song at me, "someday you'll have a child exactly like you!"
You'd think that because I'm raising a mini-me, I'd be full of patience and understanding for Annabel because I know how her mind works. Sometimes we're a good match, but other times I feel like I am the worst possible person to be her mother.
We have the same battles all the time. Washing hands, getting ready for school, finishing her meals... these become epic standoffs. The déjà vu causes me to lose my temper faster and faster, to the point where I'm ready to pounce before she's done anything wrong.
A few days ago I asked her to pick out her clothes (which she happily did), but when I went to help her get ready she ran away to hide (which she usually does). Instead of countdowns and warnings, I lost my temper completely, hollering as I stomped around and took things away from her.
She cried to her dad, "I'm scared! I don't like it when Mommy yells!" There were tears.
I remember getting yelled at (deservedly), and being scared. I had lots of things taken away, lots of groundings, but when I was alone in my room I'd whisper promises to myself that I'd never yell at my kids. And there I was, yelling.
I could tell myself that I'm doing my best, but I'm not. If I was, I'd take that extra moment and hold back that yell. I could tell myself that someday she'll thank me for being strict, but that doesn't seem to matter when she's looking at me through tears. I don't want her to be afraid of me. She's just a little girl.
I want to be patient. I ought to be understanding. I've lost so much, but I'm flipping out over the littlest things. I don't have to scare her to get the job done.
She's precocious and stubborn and smart and she's only 3 and I need to remind myself constantly that she might talk like a 9-year-old but she's only 3. This was not the mom I wanted to be, but I'm not locked into being "that mom" forever. This is only the beginning... I want to make a change, and that's half the battle, right?