Love is a Battlefield


Babygirl does not want your help.

She does not want your help with her zipper.  She does not want your help pouring the milk.  She didn’t ask for your opinion about whether those shoes are appropriate for school.  And she sure as hell doesn’t want you brushing out the nest that is her hair in the morning.

She wants many things: hugs, treats, your undivided attention at all times and it doesn’t count if you’re not watching me with both your eyeballs.  But if it’s help you’re peddling, you’d best move along, because she’s not interested.

Like right now, for example: I’m typing, and she’s standing next to me hollering my ear to Pause what you’re doing, Mommy, now now now.  Because she needs a fruit strip.  Of course, she can get it herself — don’t try to help her — except she doesn’t know what cupboard they’re in.  And it would be so much simpler if I pointed it out to her…and then left so she could climb up onto the stove to reach it in peace.

Sigh.  There is an end to everything.  Even this.


Babygirl has a huge spirit.  It emanates from her, draws people to her, makes her brave and curious.  It also makes her hard to contain, a quality I try to embrace but also struggle with, because she is my child, and to protect her and guide her and nurture the best in her is my job and my privilege.

But how do you guide someone who doesn’t seem to want to be guided?  How do you protect someone who can handle herself just fine, thanks?  (Also: How do you keep her from getting cavities if she won’t let you near her teeth?  And how can I convince her to just cut off the hair already so we don’t have to fight about this one thing anymore?  I’m serious on that one: if you have tips, please share.)

These are the questions I sigh over, obsess over, hash out with my husband in the few, frenzied moments we can find on the phone between the school run and the office run.  We talk in circles only to reach the same conclusions we have been reaching in eight years of pondering Big, Impossible Questions: Set expectations, then practice empathy, love, and patience.

I pray for patience.  I am greedy for patience.


Ever since she started Kindergarten at the big new school, Babygirl has been crawling into my bed around 5:30 most mornings.  I used to fight it, used to bring her back to her room, insist that our family does not wake up a moment before 6:00 am.  But then I gave up.  Or perhaps, rather, I gave in.

Now, I lie there, holding my baby in the gray dawn, smoothing her everywhere-hair to keep it from tickling my nose.  Sometimes, to my surprise, she is weeping quietly, and as I soothe her, I am reminded that she is barely 5 years old.  That she has a big spirit, yes, but it’s also a Very Big World that she’s tackling, and maybe — just maybe — she needs more help than she wants to admit.  Maybe she’s tired, or scared.  Maybe she’s hiding it all really well.  Maybe she’s not actually hiding it at all.  Maybe the best help is to be warm and silent together, to take what we need from the stillness in order to make it through the madness.

Maybe I need that too.

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