At the beginning of last year, I started keeping an online journal of sorts (just in a Google Doc) that I affectionately dubbed “The Motherhood Diaries.” Since there is much of my day-to-day life that I don’t share on the blog but that I still want to remember, this was my best solution to ensure that those memories and thoughts wouldn’t be lost. Very occasionally, I’ll share an excerpt from it here, though I must note that since it is written in diary format, the writing usually will not be nearly as polished as I try to make most of my blog posts.
Here is my entry from Tuesday:
Tonight while I was doing some stuff for the Hyrum Harvest Swap (and looking up info for the local food pantry to find out if we could donate produce that wasn’t claimed), Raven was in the next room quietly looking through books. Since she usually begs me every second to play with her, I was grateful for the uninterrupted time to just work on this personal project of mine. She was sitting behind the rocking chair over the A/C vent (one of her favorite places to look through books), and I didn’t think twice about it since she’s been doing this for most of her young life.
Finally, after about 30 minutes, she brought me a book with a huge smile on her face, and I immediately groaned within myself–the Usborne book about Things That Grow–with its pages and pages of accompanying stickers in the back you’re supposed to put in their precise spots as you go through it–was in her hands. Judging by the look of pride on her face, I just knew she’d been pulling off the stickers, even though I’ve been telling her for days now as we read it at night that she would need to do the stickers with me another day.
“Oh Raven,” I sighed, taking a deep breath and trying to decide how I wanted to handle the situation. Part of me wanted to get angry that she’d taken the stickers off (and probably placed them on every available surface in the living room without me noticing), but I saw her smile start to falter, and I could tell she’d thought I would be really proud of her.
So I took a deep breath and said calmly, “Raven, next time I want you to ask me before you take any more stickers off. But since I had promised you that we’d do that today, let’s go ahead and have you show me what you’ve done.”
As she opened the book, I fully expected to see sticker piles where she had haphazardly placed all the stickers she could remove on top of each other in one semi-neat stack (as she often has before).
Imagine my surprise, then, when I see on the first page that she successfully found the correct rose sticker to place on the rosebush and that, moreover, she’d even put it on at exactly the right angle.
“Probably a fluke,” I thought, still expecting the sticker stack to greet me with each page that was turned.
As she proudly flipped through the pages to show me the stickers she’d found and placed, I grew more and more astonished as I saw that she had placed well over half in the correct places and facing the correct direction. She obviously had spent a lot of time and focus and effort in trying to find the right stickers for the right locations.
My eyes welled with tears, and I was immensely grateful that I had taken a moment to stop and breathe and calm down and think about my reaction before I just went with my knee-jerk response, which would have been to get mad.
While I emphasized to her again that she needed to ask next time, I also praised her for her effort and concentration in looking hard for the right stickers and trying hard to put them in just the right place. She beamed with pride, and when I told her that we would just have to show Daddy what a good job she’d done, she positively bounced with eagerness.
As a result, what could have been a frustrating incident that might lead her to not be so eager to share with me what she’d done or that might make her not want to try such a challenge in the future became an opportunity for her to show me that her skills and what she can do solo are often much more than I give her credit for, and a reminder to me that I need to fully assess and understand a situation before I jump in and discipline.