April 6, 2017

What my 3-year-old Daughter says when she wants me to Shut Up.


“You are enough!”

It’s the mantra of many self-help books, and the thing we’re all supposed to believe about ourselves.

I am enough. I am enough. I am enough. It’s a message of grace.

Except this time, it’s not. It’s the sentence my daughter flings at me when she doesn’t like what I have to say. It’s usually followed by stomping feet, or a hands-on-hips stance—defiance in training.

Did I mention she’s three? This is why they call them threenagers, I’ve discovered.

My girl is independent and curious with a streak of sass and a free-spirited nature. I’m excited for the kind of woman she will grow to be. I am overwhelmed by the task of parenting this three-year-old version of her.

“You are enough” is meant to be a negative. She wants to shut me up. She’s trying to throw back at me a phrase I use when she’s being too contrary: “That’s enough.”

But I’ve spent the past nine months in a stage of self-discovery and spiritual exploration, and yes, my nightstand is stacked with self-help books. So the fact that my daughter’s latest insult is actually an affirmation feels like a wink from the universe. I keep a straight face (after all, she’s yelling at me), but inside, I bubble with amusement.

“Thank you,” I tell her, “You’re right. I am enough.”

She doesn’t know what to say to that, but it usually breaks the moment and soon she’s back to her sweet self.

I need to take her insult as an affirmation because these mom years are hard. On some days, I’m certain that it’s simple—I am not cut out for this motherhood thing. I send panicked messages to my husband: “I don’t have what it takes, babe. Sorry. Thought I did, but I don’t. Send reinforcements. Can’t go this alone. xoxo.”

And then, in those low, lost moments, my daughter’s words ring out: “You. Are. Enough!”

Well I wanted some encouragement, didn’t I? Here it is, in the form of a scream from a miniature version of myself.

I am enough.

Thank goodness. Because of all the responsibilities I have, all the things I’m afraid to fail at, motherhood is the biggest.

If I’m enough, it means that I’m doing all I can. I’m not striving for perfection, but I want to feel like I always did my best. I think that might actually be perfectionism, though. Oops. Is it even possible to feel like you did your best at every moment?

Even though I wake up early to meditate, exercise, and journal my way to positive vibes, motherhood often overwhelms me. Sometimes I know I’m not doing my best, but I need a break. Or is giving myself a break a way I can do my best?

I max out at 90 minutes of playing Play-Doh, and am so completely over acting out “Frozen”—I never get to be Anna or Elsa, only Kristoff or Hans. Isn’t that just completely unfair? I hide books my daughter enjoys because I can’t bear to read them one more time.

I feel torn in two directions for most of the day, trying to engage in the imaginative, emotional world of my daughter and trying to play with my one-year-old son. She wants to play Play-Doh. He wants to eat it. She wants to sit down and read books with me. He wants to sit right on top of the pages. How can I ever be enough for both of them at the same time?

But what if I am? That is amazing. That can carry me.

I know I’m not perfect, and I know I’m harder on myself than I would be on anyone else. I’m not alone in this. The one common thread I’ve found between most moms is the earnest desire to be amazing at motherhood, and the nagging fear that we are not, in fact, enough.

But what if we are? What if, in all our striving for perfection, we are missing that simple truth?

When our kids look back, I don’t think they will they remember that we were flawed. I’m certain that they’ll remember our big hearts, our enveloping hugs, and our pursuit of their happiness.

So instead of worrying that we don’t measure up, let’s create a new way forward.

First, let’s do what we can, knowing that sometimes we will do our best, and other times, we won’t.

Second, let’s vow to look for the magical moments, and let go of the messy ones.

Today, in those wild moments when my sweet girl is raging in the way only a three-year-old can, I’ll embrace the words she’s lobbing at me. I’ll accept them as a gift from the universe.

I am enough.

I am enough.

I am enough.


Author: Stacy Firth

Image: Courtesy of author

Editor: Nicole Cameron

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