That Beautiful, Loving Grace
Just when I think we are over the "terrible twos," we hit another rough patch with our Annabella. It seems like the crying, whining, and screaming are nonstop. The nights that she doesn't sleep well, I don't either. I know that in these trying times her brain is growing and developing - and my patience is being tried for reasons I may never understand.
And when the rough patch is over, and the tantrums are replaced by silent pouting, I notice that her vocabulary has expanded. Her voice sounds more clear. Her baby-ness is fading away. She wants to do everything by herself, from brushing her teeth to getting dressed in the morning. She is sassy and silly.
Watching her grow up so fast makes me sad and fills me with joy at the same time. It's often hard to remember that she is only two. She is brilliant, but she is still a baby. My baby.
Even though I am her mother and I am the one who is supposed to teach her, she has taught me so much in the short time that she's been my daughter.
Take her name, for example. When I chose the name Annabella I wasn't thinking of the meaning at first. As I looked into it, her name became more meaningful to me. Most translations of her name mean "beautiful," but the Italian translation of her name means "loving." Pair that with her middle name, Grace, and you've got loving grace.
The meaning of her name started to truly make sense once the "terrible twos" hit. I didn't realize exactly how much loving grace I would need to show as I teach her to share, not to hit her friends (or me), and to be a good little human. And as I imperfectly parent this headstrong and fearless little one, I need so much of that loving grace for myself as well.
I am by no means a perfect parent and I have literally nothing figured out. I am still learning. Yesterday I was stressed and she wouldn't stop crying over EVERYTHING. She started throwing a tantrum and I wanted to tell her to stop and go to her room or take a toy away or something. Instead I sat my hugely pregnant self on the floor, took her in my arms and rocked her while she cried. In that moment, that's what she needed. I needed it too.
After moments like those, I am often left to think about God's love for us. He is a just God, but He is also a God of loving grace. He shows us mercy even when - especially when - we don't deserve it. It is not always easy for me to show love to my toddler when she is screaming at me or throwing her toys because she is upset. Yet I know that God loves me, an adult, when I am at my worst. Sometimes that love comes in the form of discipline or rebuke. But most of the time it comes with mercy and that loving grace.