So often I try to figure my 3-year old out.
Why is she napping today when she slept in late, but yesterday I woke her up early but she didn’t want to nap at all?
Why is she throwing a fit about bath time when normally she loves bath time?
Why has she suddenly decided she’s afraid of the dark when I always turn off lights before bed and she’s been fine?
Why does she now have breakdowns over almost everything- usually related to the fact she wanted to “do it,” whatever “it” was and daddy or I did “it” and now her whole world is burning down in flames.
Then, one day, after a particularly brutal series of breakdowns, a thought popped into my mind out of nowhere: Don’t try to figure her out. Just love her.
It wasn’t a conscious thought. It just suddenly came into the tangle of thoughts I was having at that moment as she fell asleep in my lap. Yes, it felt like God was saying it, reminding me that sometimes I need to stop overthinking, worrying, over analyzing and just live and love.
And lately I’ve needed this reminder when it comes to her, not because I don’t love her or loving her is hard but because I keep trying to figure out what’s “wrong” with her when nothing is wrong with her.
She’s three. Her emotions are jumbled inside her and she hasn’t yet developed the mental capacity to recognize them, handle them or make sense of them.
I’ve been so overwhelmed with her behavior lately, and my feeling of inadequacy I’m figuring out what triggers her tantrums I’ve heard myself more than once ask “what is wrong with you?!” as if she can actually answer a question she doesn’t even know the answer to.
Imagine my heartbreak when I heard her say in the midst of a tantrum one day “I don’t know what’s wrong with me! Why can’t I calm down?” We were in the bathtub, trying to relax her and her eyes pleaded with me as if I could answer her, explain her out of control feelings. I heard my own voice in hers because her words are something I’ve said so many times before. I’ve asked God out loud what is wrong with me when I am in the midst of a mental crisis because my mind won’t stop racing through all the what ifs or the why mes
It is truly a weakness and problem I have. I over analyze. I mentally dissect issues and situations so much that eventually I have completely lost sight of the actual issue and have spiraled mentally into a hundred different directions and in the process thrown myself into a pit of desperation driven anxiety.
Most often I do this with my own health but also the health of my children, my husband and family members.
And when I’m not over analyzing I am desperately trying to escape my panicked What-if based thoughts through meaningless distractions.
When my toddler asked me “what’s wrong with me?!”
I took her gently by the arms and I looked her in the face.
“There is nothing wrong with you,” I told her, firmly. “You are normal. You’re struggling with how to handle your emotions. That’s all. You’re normal, you’re ok and I love you.”
She stopped crying and let out a big sigh.
“Okay,” she said and I hope she heard me, really heard me.
As for me, I don’t know how many times God will have to tell me nothing is wrong me with, that I’m not broken, that He loves me no matter what before I listen, but I hope I’ll keep hearing and keep listening.