My Post for A Deeper Story: When Toddlers and Spiritual Practices Meet

I’m writing over at A Deeper Story’s Family Channel today about the disconnect I’ve experienced between the advice of spirituality experts and the reality I face as a parent of small children:

 

“For every act of spiritual renewal I’ve attempted, it feels like there’s an equal and opposite reaction from my children.

That’s not a solid law. It may not even be true.

It just feels like that when you’ve gone to a spiritual direction event for two hours, and you take your kids home, and all hell breaks loose. They’re off their schedule from the car rides and misplaced naps and meals. They struggle to settle down and get overtired and hungry at all of the wrong times.

And so the baby is screaming on your shoulder because he needs a bottle and a nap, but you can’t do a thing until the toddler goes down for the nap he desperately needs. However, the toddler is pitching a fit because he wants to read two books rather than the customary one before his nap.

So you beg and plead with the toddler who will not be reasoned with. He refuses to be denied another book. So you bounce the baby a bit more and read through the book as fast as you can. But he keeps flipping back to the page where the ducklings dive into the water to point and say, “Waa!!!”

That means “water.”

I beg him to stop flipping back. I ask him to help daddy. Daddy really needs his help. His brother needs his bottle. But of course my words are wasted because he’s a toddler who wants his way and cannot see any reason why it should not be so.

So I’ve grown angry and frustrated by a situation that is simply out of my control. Part of me wishes that going limp on the floor and screaming is an option for me too. In fact, I read a story once about a mother who got her toddler to stop pitching such fits in public by imitating her in a few department stores. I’m tempted.”