“I love you more than waffles, Mama,” Reagan, my rambunctious 4-year-old proclaimed as she flung her arms around my neck and held on tight. Such an interesting item for me to prevail over when it comes to her love. I mean, waffles?
I am not even sure that she has ever had a waffle (just the strawberries and whipped cream off of the top of GG and Papa’s when we eat breakfast at LuLu’s after church). Regardless, that night, she loved me more than them.
It didn’t matter to her that the night before I was almost at my wit’s end with her. Or that in my head I wondered why she was still throwing inconsolable tantrums this far into age 4. Tagging Paul in after a brutal bedtime battle where neither Reagan or I were winning the fight, she didn’t know that I felt so much guilt the rest of the night for walking away.
No, she had no idea that I went back in once daddy got her to sleep, stroked her tiny cheeks and poured out tears. Although off into her peaceful resting, she still shuddered a few double deep breaths clearly still trying to calm down completely from her earlier antics.
While questioning myself as a mother and why I have no cards to pull with her — nothing to take away or do to console her, I whispered soft “I’m sorry’s” into her ear. If only I had made sure she got more sleep that weekend, she would not have gotten to her exhausted point of no reasoning. Maybe, if she had eaten more protein for dinner she wouldn’t have been so out of control and unable to calm herself.
Should I have tried to hold her longer while she kicked and flailed? Should I have stayed calmer longer explaining to her how I understood she was upset and trying to let her know that I am there? Should I have attempted to take more things from her — candy, TV, videos — none of them worked! Should I have ignored her? Should I have tried longer before I frustratedly handed it over to Dad for the night?
Even after a refreshing, “Hi, Mama!” in the morning followed by hugs, kisses and I love yous, guilt still ate at the center of my being throughout my entire day at work. I couldn’t wait to get home that evening, hold her and remind her that I am always there. I am her mother, and no matter how strong willed she is — I needed to make sure that she knew how much I truly love her.
But, as I walked in the door, before I could even start to explain her worth to me, she jumped into my arms, wrapped her feet around my waist in the best bear hug ever and said those seven little words, “I love you more than waffles, Mama.”
And that moment right there clearly painted the full picture of parenting.
Day after day of so many emotions, a rollercoaster of highs and lows, an abundance of wonder and “am I doing it right?” Worry, guilt, anxiety, tears along with smiles, laughter, learning, and joy all molded together into a ball enveloped with an enormous outward layer of love.
Yep, waffles and love.
Look, this child has tried me beyond my wildest imagination. If she is not insisting on cutting her own spaghetti, rinsing her own shampooed hair, or putting on her own make-up, she is deliberately throwing one more rock in the pond after I said to stop or side-eyeing me while she attempts to sneak a piece of candy.
But she makes my belly hurt from laughing at her silliness, impresses me constantly with her imaginative stories, cracks me up with her many expressions and random made-up songs, amazes me with her ability to know who she is at such a young age, and astonishes me with her ability to pour out love and forgive so freely — especially to me.
Even though our heads bump constantly, she knows every single button to push of mine when she loses control and often times makes me feel like I am failing as a mother. Somehow, through all of our amazing adventures together — our laughter, cuddles, giggles, craziness and kisses, she is able to take in and reciprocate all my love poured out to her.
Sure, we may still have a long way to go on discipline, and we will both grow and get there in our own time — together. But, thankfully, it is already apparent that even through the challenges this little girl and I go through, the complete adoration that I have for her shines through.
I mean, after all, she does love me more than waffles.
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.