Oh, Deer!

 Just another Manic Monday...which started on Sunday.

We have been having issues with our now three and a half year old little girl staying in her bed at night (and going to bed at night, but I digress). She's had sleeping problems since she was a newborn.  For every 2 months of good sleeping, we get 8 months of bad sleeping.  When she was a baby and we were out of town she managed to get a really bad cold, so the co-sleeping began.  I always said that I would NEVER co-sleep, but the joke was on me.  Her sleeping issues have not always resulted in her sleeping with us, but lately, more often than not, that has been the case.  The recent bout started in July (shortly after her third birthday) and has been going on for almost four months.  Some nights, she will come in after we have already gone to sleep and I do not know she is in there until I wake up in the morning (ah, those blessed mornings).  However, some nights (like Sunday night), she comes in before we are ready for bed and wants us to go to sleep right away.  It is on those nights that it takes me FOREVER to get to sleep.  That night in particular she took over an hour to get back to sleep and then it took me an extra hour to fall asleep myself.  Mean mama bear usually wakes up the next morning and, trust me, it is not pretty.

Monday was one of those days.

Typically two or three days a week I take Alexandria to child care at the seminary my husband graduated from.  It's super cheap and it allows me to go and swim (relieve some of that balled up stress and agitation) and then work on other things, like this blog, without any interruption, beyond checking my Facebook or the national news.  On those days I have to leave the house by 8:30 so that we can make it to the seminary by 9:00, so there is no time for mama to gather her wits while lying in bed while Dada attends to the little one. 

That morning when Miss A got up, she was in a mood.  One of those I'm-going-to-fuss-and-cry-about-everything-until-you-read-my-mind-to-give-me-what-I-want kind of moods.  And she did.  She cried about everything.  At certain times of the day I can handle this, but most mornings I can't, especially when I haven't gotten enough sleep the night before.  Needless to say, mean mama bear came out.  While it is happening I feel like I don't have control over what I am saying or doing.  It's like an out of body experience.  I remember when she was trying to get dressed and she kept telling me she couldn't (because she was throwing a fit while she was doing it) and I said to her sternly, "We are not going to do this again.  We are not going to do this again." and stomped out of the room, without trying to help her figure out what she was doing wrong.  My response to her frustration did not help things at all.  The shirt she had on was way too big (it was the first time I had tried to put it on her this season), so I told her we needed to change it.  She argued with me that she wanted something that was pink.  I showed her a pink shirt and she told me that it wasn't pink.  She brought her Dada's calculator into her room and had it on the floor.  She was trying to reach for it, instead of getting dressed, so I pushed it away.  But, I pushed it a little too hard and it slid a little to quickly across the floor, hitting her dresser.  And she started crying again.  By the time we were almost ready we had both calmed down a little bit and made it to the car.  Her French CD, that her Dada bought her in hopes that she would learn French, was in the CD player.  I immediately turned it to a Christian radio station, hoping the words would bring me out of my mean mama bear funk.  And then I hear from the back, "It's not your turn, it's my turn.  I want to listen to Surge."  So, I said sternly, "Mama doesn't want to listen to Surge, so we won't listen to anything at all" and turned the radio off.  And finally, there was silence.  Sigh.  I could feel my mean mama bear simmering down...

And then I saw it. 

We were driving on Lagrange road and I looked to my right, as I drove by a big field by an apartment complex, to see the most beautiful creature, bounding across the grass.  An eight point buck was running almost parallel to us (probably at least 50 feet away), as we drove in our car. 

"Look baby!  Look!  Do you see that?" I asked, excitedly.

"What?  Is that a Deer?"

"That a Buck," I explained to her. 

As we watched it (thank God we didn't get in an accident while I was rubber necking), it was as if everything else that happened that morning had been a distant memory.  We were having a moment while watching one of God's most amazing creations.

After we passed it (and it ran into the parking lot of the apartment complex), the mood in the car changed.  Alexandria started asking why the deer was running wildly by the street and told me that he would smash her if she tried to pet it.  I explained to her that at one time the road we were driving on wasn't there and everything was covered with trees and rolling fields.  Then people came here and needed places to live, so we knocked down the trees and built roads and houses.  I told her the deer was running frantically because he wasn't used to having to survive with all of the cars and noises around it.  It was just looking for a safe, peaceful place to hide.

A Friend's Son Feeding the Deer at Henry's Ark
Later, when I was getting ready after my swim, I thought about how the deer probably felt that morning.  To us, deer are more of a nuisance because they run into the road and mess up our cars.  They are strong, powerful creatures that we tell our children not to pet and not to go near because they might get hurt or get a disease.  But the last thing on the deer's mind is divide and conquer.  Probably a more accurate description is the deer is scared and shaking.  It is frantic and completely misunderstood. 

The deer is just looking for a safe place to be. 

Much like our kids.  For 40 weeks (more like 39 in Alexandria's case), they are in our bellies.  In a blanket of safe, warm, secureness.  When they come out we often have this expectation that we are going to train them and get them to act like adults as soon as possible.  They are going to eat like we do, go to the bathroom in a toilet when we want them to, wean from breastfeeding, dress themselves, clean their messes up, go to sleep and breathe just the way that we want them to.  And when they don't comply, we see them as a nuisance.  The first three and a half years of her life, my little girl has heard, "Don't do this," "Do this like this," "Stay out of this", "That's not yours," "You're driving me crazy," "Go to sleep"...  Yes, she has heard positive things as well, but knowing myself, she has heard more negatives than positives.  Like the deer, she is timid and afraid.  She has not yet learned how to live in this world and is no where near ready to act like an adult yet.  She is learning and will make mistakes.  And I, as her mother, have to learn how to let her make those mistakes and maybe not be so hard on her when that happens.

Silly, Sweet Girl
My daughter has only been on this earth for 3 1/2 years.  I have been on this earth for 33 1/2 years, 30 years longer than her and I still haven't got this "adult" thing figured out.  So, why do I expect her to have everything figured out?  It's not that I don't teach her right from wrong.  It's not that I stop trying to help her learn how to dress herself or clean up after herself.  It's that I try and understand that in many ways she is just like that deer.  Scared, frantic, afraid and shaking. 

She is just looking for a safe place to be. 

And, as her parent, it is my God given job not just to train her up and make sure she knows right from wrong, but also to love, be patient with, teach, encourage and let her be a kid.  God has given us one of his most beautiful creations of all. 

Just like Alexandria and I on the morning we saw the deer, we need to cherish these moments and see them as a blessing and the amazing little people that they are.  Because we really won't have them forever.  We really won't.   

Okay, You Don't Have to Cherish These Moments. 
Just Know that You Will Have Something to Show Their First Date...When She's 30.


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