You know the sayings.
The Wonderful Ones. The Terrible Twos. The Terrific (or Trying) Threes. The Fearsome Fours.
In our house, we call it the Dreaded Fours because, in our experience, it's the worst stage of them all. Brooklyn hit the Dreaded Fours six months ago. She has become fiercely independent. Asserting her opinions, her likes and dislikes. Learning all about boundaries. Making good choices and bad choices. Oh, and having plenty of consequences too. With adding a new sibling to the mix three months ago, some days (or moments) are almost unbearable.
But, then I think back to the days when Jacob was four. Those aren't my fondest days by far. He was active, defiant and very strong-willed. He wanted what he wanted when he wanted it and he wouldn't stop until he got it. Needless to say, there were lots of time-outs, toys taken away, spankings in public restrooms and loaded grocery carts left behind in the aisles at Walmart.
He had an awful temper too. In his fits of rage, he would yell at me, hit me, pull my hair, spit in my face. It was an exhausting year for all of us.
As a young mother in a newly blended family, I didn't feel prepared or equipped to handle the Fours the first time around. But, now that I've survived and seen how far Jacob has come almost six years later, I am thankful we went through that rough patch together. It taught me to stand my ground and give practical consequences. It taught me to be nicer, to focus on the positives and to have lots of patience. It taught me to give my children over to God daily and to be thankful for new mercies every single day. It taught me to laugh and have fun with my kids. It gave me perspective. But, most of all, I learned to be a better mom.
So, the next time Brooklyn stamps her foot or gives me that I-don't-care-what-you-say look or is just downright defiant, I'm going to stop myself. Take a deep breath. Remember this is only a stage.
This too shall pass.
Before we know it, we'll be starting all over again when the teenage years begin...just four short years away. And one day, we'll look back on all this and have a good laugh.