my messy girl (yes, she's got a shiner)
In April, our wee girl turned two. And though the past eight months or so have been filled with big, big love, laughs, learning, and joy, I think it's safe to say that things have been a bit challenging - for all of us.
I was so grateful to read Patience's blog this week, and to see the banner they made together. It says: Everyone is learning and growing. It's exactly the mantra I need to repeat to myself a dozen (or more) times a day. Because while it is pretty clear that Thea is expanding - emotionally, physically, and intellectually - each and every day - I need to remind myself that I am too.
For a long while, I have tried to look at each day - throughout our lives - as an opportunity to learn and grow. Learning never stops. Right now, however, I am in an acute stage of this growth. While Thea asserts her independence and newly found (and still developing) physical and verbal skills, I am learning right along with her - about letting go, about respecting her as she grows into her own person, about power, respectful communication, and so much more.
I've been reading and reading, trying to find wisdom to help me through this time - to be the best mother I can be while supporting her in this monumental growth. I'm sorting through it all, trying to figure out what feels right in my heart.
One of the most recent books I've found to be most helpful is Parenting from your Heart - which teaches about using non-violent communication in parenting. The methods described in this book and the basic assumptions behind non-violent communication (empathy, connection, communication, choice, compromise) ring most true to me. I like that there are tons of real-life examples with "practice scenarios" throughout the book. One of the things that I most like about this book is that it actively encourages awareness of our own feelings and reactions - and the need for parental self-empathy and self-care. For me, days seem to go-go-go, and I have often found myself feeling like I am just "managing" my girl's behavior. This book is just the reminder I need to stop and pay attention to what is really going on - for both of us.
One of the techniques I have found most useful is what the author calls "hearing the yes in the no." This means finding out what the child is saying yes too (eg - I want to play more) when she is saying no to you - and then using that as the beginning of a conversation - not the end.
And despite how emotionally and physically exhausting I am finding this time to be, I am endlessly grateful for the opportunity to grow and learn with my sweet girl - as messy as it might be for both of us.
Please do share - what are your favorite books, resources, and insights for parenting at this dynamic age (or at any age!)?