In case you have forgotten in spite of my many mentions, Ryan is in the throes of the terrible twos. While Chris was at his two brother's double bachelor party* two weeks ago, I skidaddled down to Ohio with the boys because I do not have the mothering fortitude to stay at home by myself for ten days (to all my military wife friends and readers ... you are amazing). It was a fun week! But toward the end, Ryan's tantrums and favorite hobby of defiance were near constant. It was probably a combination of being two, not having his dad around, lax discipline while being away from home, etc. but boy, were all of our nerves shot by the end. We do seem to have turned a corner since coming home and setting up a routine (I know ... I don't even recognize myself, but long live routines!), but when putting two weeks ago and now side by side, comparison could be the thief of a balanced judgment.
The drive from Ohio to Chicago with Ryan and Conor wasn't too bad. Leaving at nap time gave me some leeway, and I had enough rap music at my fingertips to keep Conor happy when he was awake. I recently acquired Chris' old iPhone 4 when he switched to a flip phone both to save money and to stick it to the smart phone. All of his apps are still on it, so I saw the app that has a bunch of audio recordings of books in the public domain. While scrolling through the options, I saw that it had The Story of a Soul, St. Therese of Lisieux's autobiography. Chris is the theology junkie of the two of us, but it's kind of bad that I have never read it even though I have been to Lisieux and I have a blog named after a quote in said autobiography.
And so my guilt had me press play, and I began to listen to a lady whose poor attempt at pronouncing French words rivals that of my own. I did a little fist pump in the air when I heard this version's translation of, "The sun shines equally both on the cedar and on each tiny flower."
I wasn't expecting to find parenting affirmation in the story, but lo and behold there it was. St. Therese quoted a letter that her mother wrote to her sister about her in between the age of two and three, " ... her stubbornness is almost unconquerable. When she has said ‘No,’ nothing will make her change; one could leave her all day in the cellar without getting her to say ‘Yes.’ She would sooner sleep there."
I started laughing, and then I cried. This saint that I so admire was a stubborn, defiant toddler like my toddler!
When we greeted Chris at the airport, I told him all about it and how happy, happy, happy I was to hear it. It isn't a pardon for Ryan's defiance and, at times, very grumpy demeanor. It isn't a proclamation declaring, "Go forth and tantrum!" I just feel like I can exhale after holding my breath since my first-born became a headstrong toddler because I know that the toddler who would rather stay in the cellar all day before saying, "Yes," became a saint. I'm still feeling like I'm breathing new air since hearing that passage from the book; St. Therese's shower of roses has given me a pair of rose-tinted glasses for this phase, and I find myself only sometimes, not constantly, drowning in this toddler-rearing.
I'm not a park worrier. I don't worry when Ryan is climbing ladders at the playground. I don't worry when he is walking on his favorite ledge on campus. I do worry about his soul. I don't know if he is going to be a saint but, it is good to be reminded that he can be.
* the note from up above - Chris really, really gets into planning. When you have his planning prowess and two brothers getting married in the same month, you have enough guys to rent this place on the cheap:
Have a big family trip planned near Sacramento? Stay here. Or, if you want to see a photos of this house that just scream, "PIN ME," go ahead and check out the listing.