Photo Courtesy Reghan Hailey
There are so many differences between being a first time mom and every type of mom thereafter. When we brought our daughter home, we didn't want her to cry - ever - and if she was, it must have been a sign that we were failing hard at parenting. This fear went away pretty quickly. She will be two years old next month, and her strong will combined with simply being a toddler has allowed her to learn all kinds of tricks. She knows lots of animals and the sounds they make, different body parts and can point to them, and countless words and phrases. While that's super cute and all, she also knows exactly when she's breaking the rules, how to get kisses for boo-boos (real or, more often, feigned), and how to force an I'm-about-to-cry expression when she gets in trouble.
We clearly have our hands full, but our advantage is that we've learned a lot of tricks, too. Having a toddler has been the hardest thing I've had to learn how to handle, but it's quite amazing how much of parenting comes naturally. As soon as I learned that crying wasn't the end of the world, and certainly not a reflection of my mothering abilities, the whole world changed. Surprise, surprise, babies grow very quickly into little humans with their own thoughts and plans! Being human, they already know how to try to manipulate the people around them to get what they want. Enter, parents. We have the beautiful and awful task of meeting their needs while we try to teach them to rise above and become successful members of society without being complete jerks. It's hard not giving my Precious Angel Child everything she wants, but then she suddenly transforms into an Adorable Monster Child, and I don't feel as bad when I tell her that she can't just jump on the table, because, you know... danger.
Correct your Adorable Monster Child enough times, and something magical happens. You transform, too. While you may normally be Happy Special Mama, you suddenly become Serious Angry Mama. I don't know what Serious Angry Mama's face looks like, but I know that Adorable Monster Child does not like it. Then, a voice comes out of your throat that can't be faked, and you'll see in her face that Adorable Monster Child has a very important choice to make. Precious Angel Child may appear at this point, scared, because she realizes that Happy Special Mama is gone. This is the moment that determines what happens next, depending on how brave Adorable Monster Child is today.
The first time this happened, I realized the power of Mom Voice. My daughter doesn't try to test her limits with her dad as much as she does with me, and she knows the difference between Serious Angry Mama and stern Happy Special Mama. But I'm learning all the time. Strong-willed or not, she can't beat me yet.