I knew it was going to be a difficult trip through the grocery store when we pulled into the parking lot. Before I even had a chance to unbuckle, I was already hearing the willful, whiney demands of my (very adorable) two year old. It wasn't yet his normal nap time, but I quickly realized this child NEEDED a nap. As all two year olds (and many adults if we're being honest), he was acting how he always acts when he gets tired, hungry, or sickly. Because I was already at the store and we did need groceries, I decided to give it my best effort. I put on my best cheerleader mommy voice and tried to be as upbeat as possible while being firm when I redirected the disrespectful behavior. He calmed down a bit... until I got just inside the store and attempted to put him in the child seat of the buggy. I'm SURE every head in the store HAD to have turned in our direction as he loudly and tearfully informed me, while fighting against me, "Me want go back outside! Me want out!" Over... and over... and over; while I tried my best to stay calm and keep my voice low while I prompted him to speak to me respectfully.
Every ounce of my I-don't-like-to-be-center-of-attention personality wanted to grab him up and run out of the store, away from the eyes looking our way, but I knew I couldn't reward his behavior by giving him what he wanted just because he was making a scene. Ugh. So I kept talking calmly to him, telling him he needed to stop screaming at me and tell me nicely what he wanted. It seemed like forever, but in reality, it was only a few moments before he lowered the decibel of his demands and in a more calm voice (through his continued tears), told me he wanted to go back outside, "pees." I thanked him for using his manners and let him know we would go back outside after we'd finished our shopping, then asked if he wanted out of the buggy. He said, "yes." I took him out to carry him, continuing to speak to him in as soothing of a voice as I could. He was teetering on another wave of melt-down emotions. I asked him a simple question.... I don't even remember what it was, but somehow it prompted fresh tears from him and another (though not as wild) episode of whining. I stopped pushing the buggy and hugged him. He continued to cry as he laid his head on my shoulder and I rubbed his back. I told him I was sorry he was having such a hard time, reminded him that I loved him, and firmly told him we were not leaving just because he was demanding that we leave - while in my head, I responded, "yeah honey, I'm ready to go home too."
He was a bit more calm through the rest of the store, but it was by no means pleasant. I was very cautious what instructions I gave him, knowing that I'd have to enforce them if I gave them, and knowing he was struggling to hold his little two-year-old self together. I tried to be cheerful, comforting, and firm when I needed to be firm, all while trying to keep my head together to grab the items I needed and head to the check-out as quickly as possible.
When I finally did make it home (with all but about two needed items, might I add), I was exhausted. Needless to say, it wasn't long at all until my little guy was in his bed for a nap, whether he wanted to be there or not. He truly acted like he just did not feel well. His behavior (while typical behavior for his age) isn't really "normal" for him. He is strong-willed, and he has his moments, yes, but not to that extreme.
Of the whole grocery store debacle, the image that stuck in my head was when I picked him up out of the buggy and just held him close while he cried, and he laid his head on my shoulder and put his little arms around me too.
Frustration so often makes us want to push away, rather than pull close, but I'm so thankful God gave me what I needed to pull him close to me when human nature told me to push away. No matter how upset he is with me, I want him to know he can still come to me.
That's what our Heavenly Father does with us, and I want to be like Him. If we're throwing a spiritual temper tantrum, He doesn't push us away. He waits with open arms for us to quit being stubborn and run to Him, all while staying firm with the boundaries He has set. That's what love is. He doesn't let anxiety, frustration, or exhaustion get in the way of giving us what we need - even if we don't accept it.
Heavenly Father, please help me to put my emotions aside and show that kind of love to my family, too. Please help me to acknowledge to them when my human nature gets in the way and I don't show them love as you have modeled. Help me to be more like You. Thank you for loving me.