I have heard her described as a wild child. I myself have called her feral on a bad day. She’s high energy and high volume. At almost 4 1/2 she has yet to sleep through the night more than a handful of times. She is emotional and has a flaming hot temper. She is also sweet as sugar and has compassion and forgiveness wrapped up better than most grown ups. My every morning begins with a little prayer of patience. She’s teaching me to take a moment as often as necessary to breath deep and find my strength.
Some kids are just harder. There I said it. Pop culture would have us believe that we parents make it harder, that we somehow allow them to be difficult. And maybe we do, but maybe we don’t. Or maybe we do because sometimes some children are harder. So we have to self care, we have to pick our battles very carefully. Perhaps we are so wrapped up in letting ourselves go so we can care so perfectly for this little glorious person that we just don’t have anything left for the little things. Perhaps we are so desperate to say yes or to give a hug of praise instead of a hand of correction that we let things slide.
I’ve heard “it’s just a phase” more than once. And maybe it is. But these phases come in like tidal waves and leave destruction in their wake. The monsoon rains of arguing and fighting and running and yelling and sneaking feel like days of deluge. It’s nothing we can’t handle, be sure. It’s nothing we haven’t done before. But day after day and month after month it simply makes us tired.
To parent these precious children we must always be on our game. One little yes when we should have said no equals a year of negotiations. One soft spot for bedtime means days of exhausted meltdowns. One yes when we already said no becomes an epic battle of will that may or may not last through the morning.
On the other side, their zest to live every single moment of this life is exhilarating. To literally run through the world alongside these precious ones lifts us higher than I thought possible. Their thrill with adventure and new friends is contagious. They make people smile even when, especially when, we are at the end of our patience. They are more and you cannot spend a moment with them and not know that. They are more. They are more work, more patience, more energy, more compassion, more forgiveness, and certainly more love. My littlest one has taught me to live with more.
Hang in there tired moms of tough kids. They’ve got our back. All those teachers and coaches and mommy friends will help! They will give us a pass when we just can’t be in their VBS group, or coach their soccer team. They will pack the extra snack for our playdate because they know what we packed just won’t do, today. They won’t take her words or her busy hands personally and they will help other kids manage their expectations. They will remind you of her leadership qualities, of how much fun she is, of his much energy she has. They will say “she did fine” when we both know the truth… because we know her and love her in spite of and certainly because she is more.
This article originally appeared at Knoxville Families Magazine.