Is Mommy Happy?


ExpressiveOur daughter is pushing three years old.  She’s adorable.  Loves to talk.  Makes us burst with joy when she smiles.  Amazes us with her knowledge and understanding.  Delights us when she gets silly, or cuddly, or serious, or excited.

Everything about her life right now is in HD.


But along with her near-threeness has come something else.  Something not so pleasant.

She is a demanding, moody, often inconsolable bundle of very intense emotions.  She’s manipulative.  And sneaky.  She’s blatantly disobedient, testing every boundary and crack she can find in the little world we have created for her.  She is fearless.  And flippant.  And sassy.  And in the middle of my frustration she always cocks her head a little, looks at me and asks curiously, “Is Mommy happy?”

And there are moments where



Take it.

There are moments where I lose it.  Where I yell (read: scream).  Where I get in her face and explain angrily why we don’t run out in the road when Mommy is calling your name twelve times.  Moments where I throw her scattered toys in a box and stuff them in the closet.  Moments where I rip the crayons from her hand, shove my finger in her face, and firmly demand that she never NEVER color on the wall again.  (and then take all of her crayons away)

I get so ugly and distorted and angry at this little person.  And to the same degree that I want her to understand loving discipline and learn to accept the words ‘no,’ ‘not right now,’ and ‘stop’ without melting down into a dramatic tantrum on the floor, it also breaks my heart into a bagillion pieces when I lose my cool with her.  It tears me up.  And I apologize.  And I explain why I yelled.  Or why I freaked out in the middle of the parking lot when she nearly killed herself.  And I explain why obeying in the little things is important so she will learn to obey in the big things.

But its often too late.

The damage is already done.

The tears are already escalating.  The look of fear is already in her eyes.  The sobs are already saying, “I’m sorry mommy, I’m sorry mommy!”

And I feel like the world’s number one mom.

A few nights ago, I had a moment like this.  Several moments, actually.  And by the time she went to bed, I was done.

I was done yelling.  I was done fighting.  I was done being angry and exasperated.  I was done.

Something needed to change, and clearly it was me.

Is Mommy HappyThat night I had to admit that so much of what causes my anger at her is myself.  Is my selfishness.  I am working on something, so leave me alone.  I don’t want to have a party.  I don’t want to get out of my chair to fix you breakfast.  I don’t want to go outside so you can ride your bike.  I am busy.  I am running behind and you are making it worse.  I am comfortable.  I don’t want you to repeat your demand one. more. time.

I know that I cannot control her little heart.  I cannot control the part of her that was wired to test and manipulate and rebel and disobey.  That stuff has to be trained out of her.  Loved out of her.  Prayed out of her.  The fact is, my episodes of madness are just not working.

No, I cannot control her.  But what I can control is myself.  What I can control are my own emotions.  And my own reactions.  And the situations that we get ourselves into in the first place.

What’s a mom to do?  She’s not going to college anytime soon.  So I guess I’m stuck in this.  I guess we’ve gotta work this out.  And while I have some ideas and some plans, it’s going to take an act of God for me to implement them consistently and patiently and lovingly.

Which I guess is why I’m writing this post.

Because she’s not even three yet.

I know that I have an uphill battle ahead of me.

I know that this stage is as incredibly wonderful as it is incredibly frustrating.

I know that as a mom, I want to guide her to make right choices while at the same time not breaking the beautiful, vibrant spirit that she has in her.

And I need to know that I’m not alone.


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  3. Great article….I wish I had read this 13 years ago when my daughter was going through the same stage and I felt like I must be the worst mom in the world. Turns out I wasn’t…Hang in there. I love how reflective and honest you were! Three was tough!


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