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Words with My Daughter

I’m remembering back to the terrible twos (when I wrote this) and then to the time when everyone told me, Oh, three is WAY worse than two.

Then it was, Oh, no, no. It’s FOUR that will get you.

Followed by, Five is where the growing pains start to really hit.

Standing here with my daughter and the age six looming in the not-so-distant future, I am more certain than ever that it’s all bunk.

Every age with her is going to be difficult and I need to stop taking it all so personally.

Dinner, two nights ago. The boys came and sat, waiting to pray. Lila scowled from her bedroom and announced she did not want to eat. And I – just flat out exhausted from the circular arguments she has had me running in lately – I took a breath and held my tongue.

The boys prayed and started to eat. Lila whined back at my silence as though I had spoken, Because I just don’t want to eat,  I just want to finish with these LEGOs!

I poured the boys their milk, took more deep breaths. She moved to the door frame and huffed loudly, stomped her foot.

I just don’t WANT to.

Evaline tossed her broccoli on the ground. I bent down and scooped it into my hands. I felt the small breeze of Lila moving behind me.


She sat. She ate. And I marveled at the energy and passion with which she had just fought – with herself alone.

It’s not about her and I. It’s not about ME at all.

It’s about a little girl figuring out how to be a bigger girl. Perhaps what she needs from me, while she’s in the trenches of this battle, is a model to look towards, not an enemy to struggle against.

Last night, as though I had learned nothing from the evening before, I heard my own words as I scolded her:

No, Lila, you are not cleaning. Whining that you ARE cleaning, while you are laying on the middle of the bedroom floor is NOT cleaning. If you were DOING more and SAYING less, we would not be arguing. 

Lila, if you were doing more and saying less, we would not be arguing.

Melanie, if you were doing more and saying less, we would not be arguing.

You see, at heart, I am still a little girl trying to figure out how to be a bigger girl, a woman trying how to figure out how to be a mother. And sometimes, I am still like her, fighting for no reason, arguing against silence, stomping my feet.

It takes time for me to learn and grow.

It takes patience for me to sit and listen.

It takes prayer for me to take a breath and hold my tongue.

It’s going to take a lifetime for me to learn to be my daughter’s mother.

And, lucky me, I have two.


  1. Such a keen insight. This is me with my almost 4 year old who is just starting to get huffy and argumentative. Thanks for writing this! It is encouragement for the growing pains in our near future =)

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