We were NOT going to be those parents who let their kid blatantly and repeatedly misbehave, and we were certainly NOT going to be those self-defeating parents who laugh at their kids' bad behaviour. We were going to be consistent and strict and most of all we were not going to be pushed around by some baby.
And then she started to cry - a lot. And now her infant cries have turned into toddler tantrums. She throws a fit at the drop of a hat. To make matters worse she's so dang cute. If she's not threatening us with tears, she's grinning at us with her big buck teeth and crinkly nose, smothering us with kisses or fluttering her long lashes. We are putty in her hands, and at 17 months she knows it well. So she watches more TV than we like, her pacis make it out of the crib far too often, and she wins the mealtime battle consistently. We let her do things in the name of 'exploring' and 'learning' that would better be called 'mischievous' or 'ill-advised'. We do not always remember that we will one day reap what we sow.
So yes, we have failed her, we have failed ourselves. We have ignored our unspoken rules of parenting time and time again.We've done what we thought we would never do and haven't been as consistent as we had planned.
But - giving myself some grace - there are some things that we have done absolutely right. She's bursting with life and smiles and kisses, friendly to a fault and scarily charming. She is smart and she is inquisitive. She is funny. She is loving and curious and very much her own person. She is adventurous, knows no fear and is silly, silly, silly. She observes the world around her and then assuredly asserts herself in it. She commands attention and works a crowd. She is bold, she is unabashed, she is precocious. She is - ahem - determined. She is affectionate. She is secure. She is happy. We may not be able to take credit for these characteristics, but we can take credit for nurturing them.
Most importantly, I dare say that we have succeeded in our number one goal, one so important that we put it into words.
She is well-loved and she knows it.
More than anything in this whole wide world I want Anna to know that she is loved.
Some worry about spoiling their kids with love. I may worry about spoiling her with possessions or permissiveness, but not with love. It's not possible.
So I kiss her 80 million times a day. I play with her. I sing silly songs to her. I commend her when she's been good and gently reprimand her when she is not. I hold her close and whisper in her ear that she is loved, that she is strong, that her creator doesn't make mistakes, that she makes me proud. I tell her how excited I am to spend the day with her, how blessed I am to be her mama. I beam at her and clap with her and give her more and more kisses.
Sometimes late at night as we're falling asleep Adam and I will ask each other, "do you think she knows how much we love her?" We cannot say for sure. But it's pretty clear that the answer is yes.
You cannot love somebody this much and not have them know it. There is no hiding it.
We love her and she knows she is loved.
That is something that we are doing right.