Less than a week ago I wrote about the hard days of mothering. I am now back home, back to my regular routine, and feeling the beauty of raising my strong-willed, open-hearted girl, and I want to share this part too.
Four and five were magical years. More language had developed. There was sweetness in most interactions. She was full of discovery and wonder and joy. Six and seven struck and threatened to knock me out. Sass entered the picture and colored almost every conversation. If I said up she demanded down. It was hard to see my way through that season.
And now eight is upon us, and I am catching my breath. She has new confidence. Responsibility and being accountable for oneself feel good and “grown up.” We still have our moments, but they come more predictably when she is hungry or tired or both.
Here are just a few vignettes I'll be entering into her journal for her to read later.
*For her daddy's birthday, she insisted that I withdraw $20 from her savings account. “I need to give him MY money for his birthday. DO NOT give me money from your account.”
*We have a deal that when she outgrows clothes and toys, I will take them to the resale shop and she can keep the money. This last trip brought her $14 in profit. I asked her what she would like me to do with the money. “Put $10 in my savings account and keep the four dollars for me, please.”
*She had Brownie homework to complete before the next meeting and was going to be with her dad for a few days before the meeting. She did her homework after school at her after care program. After the meeting, her co-leader told me she was the only Brownie to have completed her assignment.
*She is thriving and flourishing in her new two-household arrangement. She is excited to see the parent she has been away from for a few days and doesn't seem distraught from the distance.
*She loves her third grade teacher and life in her classroom. She misses a friend who no longer goes to her school. He made her laugh a lot and his absence is felt. She mentioned it to me and then moved on.
*She and her friend at church have decided that they want to be baptized. They are taking this decision very seriously. Cadence loves the class she is taking to prepare and the teacher who is guiding her through this process. She has asked the special people in her life to be a part of her special day. She has made those decisions on her own.
A few years ago I found a lifeline in the book Raising Your Spirited Child. It provided comfort and understanding for some of the mysteries of raising my particular child. As it turns out, she and I are both spirited—though in some very different ways—and that key information has created space for me to better guide her through our tricky moments. The author discussed how the qualities of spirited children would make them into spectacular 30-year-olds, but until then sometimes raising a spirited child would entail more fatigue and require more patience than raising a less spunky child.
I am reveling in this respite of parenthood because I know there are more tricky, exhausting, and exasperating seasons of parenthood to come. I am filling my tank now for the hard days ahead and expressing gratitude for the loveliness that is age eight.