Speaking Life :: Toddlerhood


Words matter.

If there ever was a time in my life that I've learned the truth in this, it's in this time. I live in a world where my little girl mimics my moves and copies intonation.

When you have a little understudy following you around all day you start to notice how you step; how you breath; how you eat, because she copies all of it.

I know this is a short season. This little mini-me will soon be all her own and that is all very, very good. In the meantime, while she copies my smiles and nose wrinkles, I wanted to comment on some things I'm learning in the midst of toddler mom-hood. 

I'm learning about how I use my mouth and I'm learning it's my most influential tool.

“Be careful how you speak to your children. One day it will become their inner voice” –Peggy O’Mara.

I remember reading this on pinterest some time ago, and it hasn't left me yet. For a lot of us, a quote like this prompts us to soften our tones, to lessen the yell. When I examine that phrase under my own lens, I always find myself reflecting on if it's true for me. The best way to do that is to take note of my own inner voice.

And sure enough, there she is.

Media has had its own influence, obviously. I struggle through body image issues like the rest of them, but what I'm learning is that there is indeed one prevailing influence in the way I perceive myself and when I trace that to its source I find her: My mom and her words.  Little phrases I heard so often during my childhood have weaved them self into my days. Words that spoke life and have molded me slowly are the trademark of my moms words and actions. 

 There was a grace to my childhood. While there were obviously moments of complete failure and chaos on all sides, there was always a returning point of grace. There was forgiveness still left over for me (and I needed an extra portion.) 

My mom called me monumental things: 'World changer,' 'defender of the weak,' and silly names like pumpkin and stinkyweed (because I didn't like to bathe...apparently some things stick with us longer than we'd like.) 

She called me excellent eater (which was of the highest compliments that I only now as a mother understand.) She called me a leader and only much later, when I was grown explained how much of a struggle I was as a toddler and middle-school girl.

So, if you were to ask me at 17 what my mom thought of me, I was pretty sure I was her favorite child ever.

She jokes with me now that I'm adult (and to give me real expectations about my toddler,) that if she had me first, I would be an only child. One might think that it's 'cuz I'm awesome, but it's not. I'd be an only child because she wouldn't want to go through two rounds of wrangling a brittany. In a lot of ways, two of me would be too much. (and my husband says 'amen.' ) 

She could have called me many true things.

Yet in all my wild and fury, not once did I hear 'Brittany, you're too much.' Defiant, strong-willed, too ambitious, prone to fight in other peoples battles (that resulted in black eyes and principle calls), too chatty. These would very well be fitting of my childhood self  and maybe even a little current self.

These words, I heard none of.

I still hear my mom's echo of 'world changer' from time to time, even in the midst of diapers and spending most of my time with a kid that can't even say those words yet.

All this is teaching me that my mouth moves mountains in the currency of my little girls heart.

Eowyn fits somewhere between the textbook definitions of easy and strong-willed. I don't see strong-willed as a bad thing, I don't see any of those labels (easy, high-needs, strong-willed) as bad. They're titles to best assist in explaining personalities. But I see how charged they are. I see how calling a kid strong willed somehow equals poor listeners, or disobedient. I see that 'easy' is the culturally preferred choice. So, I'm learning to take care in labels and to use my words much like my mom did for me.

On Eowyn's 'easy days' I can use words like 'great helper,' 'joy to be around,' 'silly,' & 'good listener.' On her stronger-willed days I'll call her what she is as well: 'good decision maker,' 'thinker,' 'problem solver,' 'able,' ' joy to be around,' 'confident,'&  'fearless.' 

And in all things, She's my girl.

As I keep practicing (and failing, often) at my word choice, I notice how I begin to see her in the way I refer to her. Her 'joyful charger' name (what Eowyn means) fits her even more perfectly when I actively choose to identify her as such. She's watching how I speak, and who she sees herself is taking shape.

I see Christ in this entire practice. He sees us as our redeemed selves and calls us by name. 'Saints' 'Redeemed,' 'His,' 'Beautiful,' 'Set apart,' 'Treasured.' 'Wanted,' 'Beloved,' and the more I become aware of all that I am a part from Him (prone to distrust, defiant, name-calling, quick to pride, selfish, ungracious, ungrateful, ) the more I become in awe of the one who sees me as his and as new-creature and makes the former names no longer true and slowly changes my character. 

In a lot of ways, the ways my mom spoke to my heart allowed me to catch glimpses of how Jesus sees me. These words didn't take full effect until my older age but, I'm stunned by it and thankful that my mom took care. May I do the same thing for Eowyn in my mothering her (and may Eowyn extend grace to me when I fail and say sharp things and fail to apologize well.)

It's a lesson this season has presented to me. I'm looking forward to being able to say it's learned.

In the meantime, if you give me the chance, I'll gush about my girl. 

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