How to deal with your threenage girl
My little R is so unbelievably sweet.
She is admirably compassionate. And adorably affectionate. Ever since she was a teeny weeny baby she’s treated us with the BEST hugs and kisses.
But recently… she turned three.
It was like her birthday hit and... a ferociou---I mean, less pleasant version of our angel came out.
I mean, we’ve always known she is strong willed. Stubborn. Likes doing things on her own terms.
We love these qualities about her. AKA — We hope (and plead) that it serves her one day!
But I think we are now really hitting what they call the “threenager” stage.
Don't get me wrong, she’s still our sweet girl. Some days it feels like she's deep beneath that sassy exterior, but... it's still her.. somewhere in there.
All joking aside, the hubby and I had some good chats about it. We know it's likely a phase and we reassured each other (okay he mostly reassured me) that this is totally normal and does not mean we are bad parents (I hope)!
However, I could do with less mood swings and whining so I considered and searched for ways I could help us through this fun little stage.
Through this, I discovered some very unexpected guidance...
Yesterday morning as I was getting ready for church, Cam came over to me and opened a small envelope. I couldn’t see what it was, but as soon as he read what was written on the front I remembered:
“Open When: She Does Something Naughty.”
To preface, when I was pregnant with R, I wrote a series of letters for Cam. They were called “Open When” letters. Probably a Pinterest find. Anyway, the letters were to be opened at different points in her life: when she was born, when she smiles for the first time, when she gets married, etc. And apparently this one was particularly written for a time when “she does something naughty.”
I told him to read it out loud. Here’s what it said:
Don’t be angry or upset.
Just chuckle to yourself and write it down so you can remember it and tell her about it later on.
But of course let her know that what she did was wrong in a loving, caring way.
Enjoy these moments when she is little. They will go by so quickly. Cherish her little personality and mischievousness.
Always, always remember love is most important.
And I know you never fail to show this to me or to her.
We love you too and hope that you don’t need any more of these letters when she’s naughty to keep you sane!
I love you,
Okay, I genuinely don't remember writing that! Or how I came up with it. Especially before having children when, looking back, I know I didn't have a clue (still pretty much don't!). But it was a cool little thing that happened as he read and I listened. We laughed at the end. It was just what I needed to hear in that very moment!
It helped me remember that this short time with my daughter was just that. A short time. Soon she will be older. Maybe less demanding of our time and attention? I don’t know...
But all I know is right now. Right now when she can still sit on my hip and ask me to read books and play dollies with her all day.
It tenderly reminded me that the struggle WILL pass... that mini battles like this are really quite small in the grand scheme of things.
So if you think writing an "open when" letter to yourself will help, totally do it!!
And if the threenage monster rears its ugly head and you lose your cool, give yourself some grace! Believe me, compassion for yourself will go a long way. And motherhood is like THE toughest job ever and you're doing your best! So is she.
I like to think that if toddlers are tantruming and moms are frustrated, then everything's exactly how it should be. That it's all a part of life and being human. Even if that small, angry person seems beyond humanly help!
Also. I like to remember the phrase this too shall pass from the Bible. My mother-in-law always quotes it. And I think it's SO true! Everything passes and works out the way it's supposed to in the end. It's a powerful perspective. Super difficult to remember when little miss moody is talking back, but brings much more peace and assurance I think.
Plus, the fact that you're concerned and want to find ways to help her shows what a great parent you are! Seriously! Wouldn't it be loads easier to give in to all her three-year-old desires just to keep the peace? If you're cringing at just the thought of that, I think that's an admirable thing!
Ultimately, none of us will ever be the perfect mom, but that doesn't mean we aren't doing a really fantastic job! You got this, mama!