Four is the new f word. There I said it.
I’m a mother of a 4-year-old and it is stretching me to my limits most days. (I will have grown leaps and bounds by the time she’s five!) We’ve all heard of the Terrible Two’s and then there were moms who told me “No, it’s three you need to brace yourself for.” I honestly loved ages two and three with my daughter, they each presented different joys and challenges, but overall I enjoyed those stages. But since she has turned four….oh mama….it’s been a rough few months! Let’s just say I have been practicing my deep breathing and counting to ten LOTS more.
I feel guilty for saying it too! I love my daughter, I am blessed to have her, she challenges me and these tough times make me a better person. I get that. It’s just been exhausting!! Let’s get one thing straight: You will not hear me EVER say it around her. I would never want her to get the wrong message about my love for her, it has just been a really challenging age so far. People often remark that they didn’t like the newborn stage, so I think it’s okay for me to say I’m not a fan of four!
She’s forming excellent reasoning skills, but that can lead to exhausting arguments and battles of the will. Her imaginative play is so intense she has a hard time stopping to go to school or church which leads to drama and tantrums. She’s teetering on that edge of not-a-toddler but not-a-school-aged kid so the maturity level is often unpredictable…especially in public. That makes restaurants, grocery stores, and even church sometimes a bigger challenge. She’s testing the limits more and more with her father and I, and although I feel pretty confident in our discipline with her, it’s still so exhausting most days! She loves physical activity but her daredevil stunts (she can jump from incredible heights and land like a cat) can be scary and inappropriate at times (this goes back to the public places being a hard issue). She’s so much more aware of the world around her that the deep questions she has usually leave me dumbfounded and fuddling for the right thing to say. I know with each challenge she’s developing mentally and physically and I’m thankful for all these milestones but MAN IT’S TIRING! I will say I’m sleeping better than I have in a long time!
I’m reading a wonderful book right now called Screamfree Parenting and I recommend it to all parents. Yes it has good advice in it, but one of the biggest messages for me so far has been to change how I view the whole framework of the parent/child relationship. The phrase “Choose your battles” often comes up in rearing children, but if you look at it as a “battle” then it puts your family in a war-like frame of mind and there is an enemy in a war. It’s not a battlefield, it’s a family, it’s a relationship and my daughter is not my enemy and I am not hers (although it feels like that somedays!)
I know some of you reading this with older kids may be thinking “just wait til she’s 13, or 16, or 18!” Yes, those years will present all new hurdles as well and maybe I’ll blog about them in a few years! And sure when we’ve moved onto five maybe I’ll say, “Four was a dream compared to this!” For now though you can find me breathing deeply, sometimes rocking in a corner, trying to make it through the life of motherhood, one day at a time in a healthy and positive way for my flabbergasting, frustrating, fantastic four year old!