Fast forward three years, and I'm dealing with a stubborn, headstrong three-year-old. I've had to go back on those "I'll never..." statements so many times I've lost count. There are days when Aniston and I struggle with each other from the minute we get up until the minute we go to bed. It's often a battle of wills between the two of us, and most definitely a power struggle. Sometimes I lay awake at night and wonder if I did the right thing, chose the right battles, gave the right answers.
There are days when I wonder if I'm doing this right at all. Am I a good parent? When she's grown and has a child of her own, will she look back and think I was a good parent?
Today was one of those days. It was her second day of swim lessons, and it didn't go well. She wouldn't even put her feet in the water (even though she loves the water and swims often), or let her instructor touch her. She screamed and cried for me. I was frustrated, and, truthfully, so very embarrassed. All of the other kids in her group were doing so well, and there was mine, pitching a huge fit. I tried to talk her into going in, her instructors tried, I took her out to calm down and then went back in...all to no avail. Finally, after I realized she just wasn't going to stop, we left early. My patience was gone. I talked to her on the way to the car, as I buckled her in, and as we started home about the way she behaved. Even though I knew I should let it go, I couldn't.
And then, she spoke up in a small voice from the backseat, "But, Mommy, I just needed you."
I just needed you. And, just like that, my perspective changed a bit. She's three....only three. She has trouble separating from me in new environments and situations, and that's normal (believe me, I read article after article after we got home to make sure).
I just needed you. She needed reassurance, familiarity, love. Yes, she has to learn to do things on her own, but in that moment she needed me...because I'm her mommy. Her rock. Her safe place. When things are uncertain, new or scary, she looks to me for help. And would I want it to be any other way?
Being a mommy to this little girl is the biggest blessing I've ever received--I've said that time and time again. What an amazing, yet scary, thought to know that I'm responsible for helping her to become the person she's meant to be. She's looking to me to be her constant, to help her grow and gain independence and confidence, and to provide just the right amount of support until she's willing and ready to fly on her own.
I just needed you.
And I'll always be there for you, sweet girl. Always.