Emi was throwing her food (I had just spent 30 minutes making) on the ground... Again. She was dissatisfied and I was frazzled. Her hand was persistently hitting the bench in an effort to tell me she'd had enough. So I grabbed a wipe to clean her up and while she protested, she was relieved when I finally 'unchained' her from the highchair. I could feel the hot tears beginning to well up and a lump forming in the back of my throat.
The last doctor visit at just over 9 months told me she was a little underweight. A few months later (right before her 1st birthday), she still had no teeth, and refused most food I tried feeding her. She was adamant about not eating from the spoon, unless she was holding it. But by the time the food reached her mouth, well it didn't reach her mouth. It had been flung to who knows where. More often than not, she would refuse the spoon altogether, pushing it away, and in desperate gestures towards my breasts, she would grab my top instead, while making 'the milk noise'.
Clingy, fussy, teething with no teeth... I was drained to say the least. All I wanted was for her to start putting on the weight. I started feeling anxious every time she threw her food on the floor. The little tantrums weren't exclusively food related either. She started getting frustrated with play too. Slowly, a feeling of defeat crept in.
It was during one of Emi's little outbursts, that I remembered a promise I had made, to myself, in the early stages of pregnancy. I had made it my personal mission to be positive and believe I was built for such a task as nurturing the life inside me (even in the face of morning sickness). I also believed the same for child birth, and all that came after. This was probably the best thing I could have done to prepare for what was ahead... Turns out I needed that sort of attitude when the birth didn't go as planned and complications arose. I needed to draw on the strength of that wisdom when I was dog tired for months after and feeling incredibly tender and vulnerable in the wake.
So why had all those good, positive feelings escaped me? Cue moment of clarity, and with the clarity, a silent shout from every fibre in my being. "No!". No I will not be defeated. No I will not resolve to just whinging and whining about the tough times. No I will not speak negative words into my future or over my children because of a 'norm' that is to be expected. I decided then and there that no matter how hard 'the season' or how tough the situation, I was going to believe the simple truth that I already knew... I am made and built for such challenges. And that means, my only option is to dig deep and put everything I've got into being the best I can be despite the lurking sense of failure.
Since this revelation, I have come up with a simple strategy. When I am faced with the chance to feel defeated as a mum, I take a second to gather myself and choose to be even better than I was just a moment ago. I have committed to taking the hard road (even though the easy one looks so tempting) to forge good character and habits in myself and my daughter. That means, I take the time to be consistent and diligent in how I teach, discipline, and most of all love Emi. So when she won't eat, I keep making her healthy and wholesome food. I keep putting in the effort. I keep trying.
I am not saying I will never have a bad day. And I know there will be moments I choose to take the easy road and give up at times. Life is full of this tension, but what matters is how you cope with it.
Here is the truth you need to remember: You are made for it. Whatever you're going through, you're built to get through it. You don't face hard times for nothing. A challenge isn't an opportunity to practice your moaning and groaning. Better yet, you determine your own quality of life. You can choose to live in a place of peace, joy, and strength even when your situation is bleak. You can also choose to live in a defeated place, even when you have so much to be grateful for. And the most sobering part is, you can determine which of the two places your kids will live in, through the words you speak, your attitude, and your actions.
Emi is now 13 months, has a tooth and is beginning to enjoy her food. The hard times don't last forever. And now I am excited to face what lies ahead... Who says the 'terrible twos' has to be the norm? That common phrase is banned from my vocabulary. I am going to make a new normal by expecting the best, armed with wisdom and strength to be my best, even when faced with the worst.
Love Heids Xx