Since Sunday morning, Tot has been horrible. I mean, ship-her-off-to-China-because-I'm-done horrible. Most days I deal with her pretty well. I mean, it is a truth universally acknowledged that my Tot is "strong willed" on the best of days and "an absolute beating" on the worst, and I usually just roll with it. But let me just say that the past few days have definitely fallen under the "an absolute beating" category.
Before I go on, I would like to set out a disclaimer. I adore my Tot. L-O-V-E her. And I genuinely like her, too. I like the person she's becoming. Even on the worst of days I never wish she was anything other than herself, I never look at parents with better behaved children and wish Tot was like that (although, I have been known to see a child acting particularly well and asking the parents "What is that even like??). I know that God has given her these....um...strong traits because He wants her to be something strong later in life. At some point, she will need this spirit - who am I to extinguish it? But oh, the harnessing of such energy is exhausting.
Which brings me to Sunday. On Sunday, Tot surpassed even her own standards by making me stop the car not even 20 feet out of our driveway to spank her, getting reprimanded in her Sunday School class (that is taught by my friend Cheryl, who knows Tot and thank heavens has lots of patience with her), getting kicked out of Kid's Praise for inciting a riot with four other kids, refusing to nap at her grandparents house, making Dave stop the car twice on the way home to spank her (seriously), and spending the rest of the evening in a power struggle with us using both yelling and whining to try and get her way.
And that was just Sunday. I just won't talk about yesterday.
So this morning, I woke up feeling much like I had been in constant battle for the last two days. I was exhausted from lack of sleep (because guess who decided that she could force herself awake to prove a point to Mommy?) and tired of constantly disciplining. It is incredibly draining to feel like you are only able to be negative all the time, no matter how positive you try to remain. I've been praying my guts out, trying to keep an even keel with Tot, trying to discipline with love and effectiveness, and by this morning I was just plum wore out.
So, the kids got dry Fruity Pebbles in front of the TV for breakfast, and I threw on some probably dirty and definitely wrinkled clothes and prepared for another day of battle. I could already hear the kids fighting over stolen cereal (one guess who the perpetrator was). I was looking around the house and seeing piles upon piles of laundry that needed to get done and the rest of the house was equally in shambles - the price of focusing on a kid gone wild. After thirty minutes of basically just refereeing the kids and not getting anything productive done, I called an audible and forced the kids into the wagon to walk around the block and get some air. It looked like rain, but I didn't care. The kids got in their raincoats and I got the umbrella and off we went.
I'm pretty sure than anyone who passed me in their car could see the bone deep exhaustion on my face. I usually try to put forth some effort to put a positive spin on things, but I was just done. You wouldn't think after a fantastic birthday weekend, filled with breaks from the kids, that I could possibly be so tired, but oh I was. Two days of constant, non stop tug of war with the Tot had left me dry. Oh, and did I mention Dave is in Arizona. Yeah, talk about the best time for no back up.
Anyways, so there I was, walking around the block, trying to pray out my issues and get the kids to stop fighting and then God sent me an angel.
I saw my good friend and neighbor, Joy, drive past me and she stopped and said "Hey! I dreamed about you guys last night. Do you need me to come over with some tea and talk?" And of course I was all "Dude. Yes." She said "Usually when I dream about someone like this, God is telling me that that person needs something. I'll meet you at your house." And so I said sure, and cried as I walked back to my house.
We got to my house and Joy said "Okay, I was getting the impression that you needed some help with laundry. Where do we start?" Seriously. So, we started folding towels and talking about our kids and how she had been right where I was about two weeks earlier and totally felt me and we put new sheets on the beds, picked up around the house, drank tea, and prayed. And while I am still tired, still unsure about how to harness all this Tot energy, I feel so much more able to keep on keeping on. It is incredible how much good a helping hand and a sympathetic ear can do.
Like I said, God must really love me.