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December 1, 2014

My Strong-Willed Child

He's the child I never knew I missed.

I wasn't quite ready...but you can see Vincent was :)
He's the one that made us say, "If he'd been first...he might have been last."

He loves to say "CHEESE!"
He tests my patience. Yet he fills my heart so full it could burst.
He wanted us to have "silly sticker noses"
I'd always heard about this thing called a "strong-willed" child. I thought, perhaps, I had seen glimpses in my other children. But I only learned how naive I had been when Vincent was born into our family. Because our experience with him highlighted for me that the glimpses of "strong will" we'd seen in the other children were just your normal, everyday, run-of-the-mill challenges of normal-tempered children at different stages. Vincent showed us that "strong willed child" means strong-will, all the time, every day, every minute, with every choice and every occasion.

Vincent goes all-out, all the time. Even in the beginning--I can look back to pregnancy and labor/delivery and say, "I should have known..."

Vincent was the one of my pregnancies where we checked progesterone early and often and it just kept plummeting. It was Vincent who wouldn't cooperate at 12 weeks and let the doctor get a good heart beat with the doppler thingy and so he had to do a pelvic and jumble things around until we heard it and put my mind at ease. It was Vincent who forced his way to 27 hours of induced labor including 16 hours of "good" contractions before finally deciding to descend and be born in the matter of about 5 minutes. All on his time, you see. I joked with my doctor about whether this was a "5th child" thing -- the kid taking his sweet time to be born (my doctor had shared that he was a 5th child...) Honestly, the newborn months are a blur (as they are with all the kids), but as we emerged into our new normal, Vincent still exhibited this all-out, all the time personality.

Three-and-a-half years in, I regularly acknowledge that Vincent is my strong-willed child. He's wild. He's loud. And...he gets what he wants more often than not.

He loves cars...so surely he enjoyed playing this game with his daddy.

I've tried to be a mother twho "chooses" the "battles" carefully. But I never had so many to choose from before Vincent! I never realized how blessed I was with the older four that "choosing my battle" meant just once or twice a week. Because with Vincent I am choosing between 6 or 7 a day (sometimes the choice between 6 or 7 happens between 6:15 and 7:15 a.m.!!)

The fact that Vincent is 3-and-a-half-years-old now only exacerbates the issue because now he can talk (and yell, scream, etc) and make sure we know what he wants and that he won't back down. Sometimes I force my hand and he has to do it my way -- and I'm rewarded with a screamfest for the ages. More times than I like to admit, I give in and decide it is not worth it to fight.

A mom often ponders whether she is doing a good job at being a mom. When the kids are older, you start to realize that each of them has a personality and temperament that determines how they behave and what kind of mom you are seems to have less and less to do with anything. With Vincent, I question even more, my abilities, than I did with the other kids.

He's the first one that's been in daycare for his whole life, we've had an awesome experience with our daycare, too. The woman who cares for Vincent all day is gentle, kind, loving and still firm -- is his experience the reason he is so different?

Vincent is the first of my kids to reach this age without another child joining the family (on Earth) -- does that motivate him to behave the way he does? I experience so much more of Vincent because I don't have a baby on my hip, I'm convinced. Is my perception colored by this new and different experience? I am sure it is.

And perhaps my perception is colored, too, by the fact that I miss his little brother at times. Who knows what kind of child Vincent would be with Gregory tagging along...?

Sitting in the Darth Vader chair...hmmmm
While Vincent takes so much of my energy with regard to discipline and formation, he also replenishes my emotional stores faster than I remember it happening with the other kids. Vincent works hard and loves harder. He looks up to Dominic with a ferocity I haven't seen in the other kids. He pays enough attention to his sisters that he knows which of them can provide him with what he wants when he wants it. He makes my heart melt when he requests a hug and a kiss before I leave the house or leave him at daycare. He doesn't say "I love you" all the time like the other kids did when they first realized how much I liked hearing them say it. But he says it when I least expect it and I can feel his emotion reaching my heart every time he says it.

A strong-willed child is a special experience. Yes, it can be difficult and worrisome. But, at least in my case, it's accompanied by such passion! I love that. 

It is only because Vincent joined our family, that I am able to experience it.

1 comment:

  1. My strong-willed son is the same age. It has been such a test and yet such a joy. Thank you for sharing this. It's encouraging to read about mom's who understand the challenge. I often say God gave my son the personality that he will need in order to do the job God has planned for him.

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