Sometimes, I feel like my world collapses in on itself with a WHOOSH and BANG and I’m suddenly in a dark tunnel racing towards a pinpoint of white-hot intensity – the battle of wills with Madison.

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I catch myself preparing for the fight as soon as I wake up in the morning while she is still snoozing away for another two hours.  It’s like I have to check all my gear, reload my ammunition, and clear any blind spots before she can mount an assault.

She is three years old.

Everything ceases to exist except whatever tension is sizzling between us.  I want to control her.  Oh, how I want to control her!  To make her obey, make her do what I want when I want her to do it, the way I want it to be done.  The tiniest flick of attitude ignites a roaring response from me, my emotions flaring and patience sizzling.

I’ve become a live wire, waiting to pop and spark at the slightest nudge.

It tears me apart that my relationship with my daughter is in this state.  My three year old daughter.  How I long for connection and compassion and gentleness.  Even when I try to embrace her we usually end up hurting each other.  That sentence was not an analogy – we literally harm one another almost every time we hug or kiss or express any other form of affection.  Wether she trips as she barrels into my arms and wacks her head on my nose, or something catches her attention as we lean in for a kiss and my teeth connect with her forehead, both of us usually end up holding some part of our face or neck in pain.  An all too accurate portrayal of the current state of our relationship.

The last week has been a lesson in releasing my expectations of being able to perfectly discipline my children.  Perhaps my view of discipline isn’t what she needs.  I’ve had to let go of idealistic situations (that only exist in my imagination) and face reality.  Discipline is, after all, the act of training a child or causing them to learn.  It’s not a style or manifesto of what I will or won’t do.  It’s a moment my moment evaluation that shapes character through relationship.  I’m also coming to realize that it’s a two way street – I’m learning just as much as she is.  However much I want it to be about control, I will destroy her (and myself) if I begin each day with my guns blazing.

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Thanks to our current unit about insects, I’ve been picturing Madison as a (really adorable) caterpillar who is struggling to become a butterfly.  Am I forcing her back into the cocoon, or am I allowing the struggle to transform her into the beautiful, strong, independent, majestic being that she was created to be?  It’s so much easier to control or corral a caterpillar.  A butterfly?  It chooses its own path, changing course as quickly and unpredictably as a gust of wind.  What role do I play in that metamorphosis?  When do I remove my influence and when do I gently direct?  She is who God has made her to be and any amount of control or restriction will not change that.  How I yearn to see her in the full beauty for which God created her!

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