Today I am resting up from a five-day marathon. Now, I know that a marathon is measured by miles (26.21875 miles to be exact), but my marathons are measured by days and are also measured by what I am doing those said days. In my case it might be moving; it might be editing; it might be a decorating project; it might be a million things where I've turned my focus to something and persevered until it's done -- wrapped up -- fini! This week it has been a marathon of loving, guiding, wrangling, and keeping safe my little Preston while her parents were traveling. And, let me tell you, this nana is worn out! But did you know there's a difference between a "bad" worn out and a "good" worn out? Well, this is an extremely "good" worn out, but worn out nonetheless!
For those of you mommies who are passing from the infancy or toddler stage to the preschool stage, let me give you a piece of advice from a seasoned nana: hang in there, this too shall pass! There are myriad opinions of what stages in child-rearing are the most difficult. Some say infancy because baby is so helpless and you sometimes simply don't know what they need; this stage gets my vote as the most difficult. Some say hands-down the "terrible-twos" stage because it seems at this developmental time in a child's life, they have mastered an utterly amazing repertoire in ways to express the word "no." Saying "no" by a two-year old can simply be the word "no" in a firm or extremely loud and authoritative tone, but it can also be accompanied by the showing out of little Sammy or Sue. It might even include a well-orchestrated-full-on-throw-me-down tantrum after which follows a hard and wrenching trip back to normalcy in an already otherwise difficult day. After all, it's a day with a two-year-old...certainly not for the faint of heart. But as I have observed three children and three grandchildren in my journey as a grandmother, I see that every single stage has its blessings and its challenges. There are actually some days in a small child's life that go by pretty much without a hitch. They are agreeable, they eat well, they take their nap without a fuss, and they say things so cute that you literally think you could eat them with a spoon for desert. It's a good thing God made 'em cute, right? We live for these days.
And then there are the threes. Much like the twos, the threes continue in the art form of saying no. And if you have a strong-willed child such as my little P (as was her mother), you get an even stronger dose of just how challenging a three-year-old (aka preschooler) can be. Every day recently with my granddaughter had its challenges, some more than others, and every day had its blessings. The blessings by far ruled over the challenges, but the challenges were absolutely there. Some days they were as little as a timid no -- timid because she knew nana would not take no for an answer but, hey, you gotta try, right? Some days, they were a little more taxing...to the point that, once baby girl was in bed for the night, Nana soon followed. Raising children is for the young! I know there are plenty of grandparents out there who for whatever reason are having to raise their grandchildren and will complete the task at any cost. It's hard to believe you can love a grandchild as much as your own child...until you have a grandchild. And then that little person becomes just as much a part of your life as the children you carried for nine months and delivered from your own body. I believe God gives those grandparents who are raising their grandchildren an extra dose of power and endurance and blessings. It also doesn't help when you feel like the grandchild is a complete "re-version" of your child and at times, when you're keeping her, you're quite sure you've been taken back in a time machine to the year 1986 when your own child was three. Sometimes even the sound of Preston's voice is like Hollie's when she was three. It is a strange and magical moment when that happens, but a bittersweet one as well. Before you know it, they're grown and having babies of their own. I know it's cliché, but it's true.
Three is an interesting age. By the age of three and into the fourth year, children are well-developed into their own and lasting personalities. They know quite definitively what they like and don't like, what they want to do and what they don't want to do, and how to express those desires in no-uncertain terms. They have learned the power of persuasion, the art of negotiating, and exactly how far they can cross the line before driving their parents and grandparents over the edge of no return. I personally believe they plan their days to see just what they can achieve in the area of getting what they want, when they want it! And, thankfully, my little P is no different from a typical three-year-old because she is right on schedule and thriving, but if I didn't know better I would swear she is far ahead of her years in the negotiating agenda. She knows what she wants and every single solitary day she goes after it! Her perfect day would go something like this:
Rise with the sun, well-rested to a breakfast of doughnuts and chocolate milk
*Play for exactly four hours till lunchtime, which is a slice of cheese pizza, cookies, and lemonade
Skip naptime because there is still much playing to be done and two hours of television until...
An equally-delicious meal of mac&cheese (and mac&cheese only) is served for dinner.
(Bedtime only comes because little one is too tired to go any further and kills over from exhaustion)
*Playtime also might include times of pool-wading, park-visiting, or shopping for fun toys at the local Wal-mart).
But, alas, the day doesn't always go as our little one would have it because we, as parents and grandparents, have to make sure they get their veggies, their rest, their exercise, AND their discipline if needed. They soon become little creatures of habit and well-developed habits when they're young leads to good habits when they're older. My girls tell me they simply cannot eat a meal now without some sort of green vegetable on their plate. I guess I did something right!
But one thing I've learned about strong-willed three-year-olds like my little Preston: They have great potential to go far in life and, with the right guidance by their parents, grandparents, teachers and every other adult in their life, their strong wills can be developed into passions and successes. The key is to channel that energy into productivity, and I can say that my daughter has done a marvelous job at that. Every single day Hollie has her own great efficacy in turning Preston's boundless energy into something productive -- household chores such as cleaning and gardening, reading, learning new things. Preston is extremely energetic (because she is well-fed and gets the proper rest), happy and hilariously-animated, and very intelligent for her age. I would not be at all surprised if one day in her future she will direct that boundless enthusiasm to medicine or research or law or a trillion other things that could be a result of the strong will that she claims. Strong-willed people are perseverers, confident, and determined. They never give up on what they want!
So we carry on. We accept the challenge when we have children and grandchildren to love, direct, and yes, wrangle them into submission if we need to. We deny ourselves for them, we put them first in all our decisions in life, we do the right thing for them when we're too tired to put one foot in front of the other, and we too persevere till the end. Which, I'm beginning to think never truly comes. My mother, on her death bed, lined up newborn pictures of my siblings and me, and referred to them as her babies. She went back to the time when she felt she was the most blessed women in the world to be entrusted with those three little lives and she was a mother who loved her kids with great passion till she left this world because, like they say, once a mother always a mother. And, if we truly want the best for them, we do it all with a happy heart, even though most times it's treacherous work and sometimes an equally thankless job.
It seems as though the marathons are in no way winding down for me, as I have a new grandbaby due at Christmas! And, as long as there is strength in my body, I will run the miles needed to make sure my kids are happy, healthy, and secure. As long as there is breath in my lungs, I will talk to them, tell them stories, read them the same book for the thousandth time, and play their little games, no matter how silly. I will teach them that kindness, not selfishness, has the greatest rewards. I will teach them that love is the golden rule and that hard work is not easy but always pays off. But races are preceded by months of preparation. You have to train and you have to rest. Then you train and you rest some more. And after the next race, you do it all over again.
And, on that note, I am ready for a good lunch and another nap. I can see my next race on the horizon, and I simply must be prepared. Because life, and having children, is not a sprint...it's a marathon for sure.
Happy Wednesday, y'all!
Posted by CC
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