Real love isn’t forceful.

Today I let my flesh parent, and it wasn’t pretty.

Our youngest child Adah is in the stage of everything being dramatic. Pun intended on the word stage, as she is surely putting on some kind of performance for us daily. In her two year old mind she rules the house, she rules me, she rules all. You know a two year old like that? I know some adults like that.

Today before nap the girls had an impromptu bath, followed by the ever agonizing toe nail trimming. In the past this has always been an easy thing with the two oldest, but Adah is changing the history on this subject.

Sitting her in front of me to trim her nails, she starts wailing. Screaming to the point that it must have sounded as if I was trying to murder her with the baby nail trimmers. I totally still use the ones for newborns, because I’ve been known to cut tiny fingers on accident.

After what seemed like hours of trying to calm her down, and bribe her with gum ( USUALLY WORKS ) , I got mad angry. I mean I was hot. I decided and agreed with my flesh that I was not going to let my two year old win. I am a grown woman! I would win this battle and get the trophy too. And after the race was finished I would be offered a free beer to carb up.

Lord knows I burned so many calories trying to hold her tiny foot down so I could trim her toenails. After screaming on both ends, they were trimmed.

They were trimmed, but I had just won a battle that I wasn’t proud of, and for what?

Tears streaming down her sweet cheeks, she reached out for me. Immediately I knew that I had handled that the wrong way. Could the trimming have waited until maybe after nap time , when she was rested? Could it have waited until tonight, after dinner when her belly was full?

The answer is yes to all those questions, yet I decided I was going to win.

I taught my daughter in that moment  all that mattered to me was winning the battle.

It didn’t matter to me that she was clearly having a tough day, learning to be two. It didn’t occur to my mind that all I was doing was forcing my child to do something that she didn’t want any part of.

( disclaimer: do I force my children to do things that I know are necessary , yes. )

I rocked her a bit longer for her nap, even after she fell asleep in my arms. I had allowed stress and anger to rise up and I took it out on my toddler.

It’s not her fault that life isn’t super easy right now. She’s just two.

The bad parenting doesn’t define the mother that I am, but I can learn from it. I can step back and see that it really wasn’t about cutting her toe nails, it was about being right. It was about winning.

Love isn’t like that.

Real love doesn’t operate that way. Real love isn’t forceful.

I want to teach our children that loving them is my main goal, and  winning is the last thing on my mind.

Parenting young children isn’t about being the right one ALL the time. Sometimes we have to learn from our mistakes, and be grateful for God’s grace.


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