Something to Give Up? I gave up being frustrated with my daughter.

It’s Lent. I’m Catholic. I had to give something up. You know, because it’s Lent and stuff and that’s what you do. You give something up for forty days and forty nights, and then you go crazy like a glutton on Easter Morning, gorging yourself with everything you gave up on Ash Wednesday.

One year year, I gave up taking career tests, that was my total obsession – I could search the internet for any new quizzes and take them every day. I still love these career and personality quiz but as a mom I have less time to worry about my career just now. Anyway, this year I wanted to give up something even more meaningful.

I wracked my brain all day Wednesday and Thursday. I couldn’t come up with anything. On Friday, it hit me like a bolt of lightning. Laura was screaming over nothing, and I was getting more and more upset.

I turned to my favorite phrase: “Laura, you are driving me NUTS!” That’s when I realized that I had something real, something meaningful, to give up for Lent.

I gave up being frustrated with my daughter.

It has been two weeks since I gave up being frustrated with Laura. By the second day, I had discovered the cause of my frustration: worry. Whenever I worried about something regarding Laura, I started to get frustrated with her. Not eating her dinner turned me into a frustrated psychopath.

Surely my daughter wasn’t getting enough nutrients! Doesn’t she know she needs to eat?! Argh! And even worse? The more I worried, the more frustrated (with Laura) I became when I felt Nate wasn’t being supportive enough.

So I stopped worrying about Laura’s food intake. She’s a happy, healthy little girl, so what does it matter? If she’s hungry, she’ll eat. She certainly never turns down a strawberry or banana, so she’s getting something. I stopped worrying, and my frustration levels plummeted.

It has been two weeks since I gave up being frustrated with my daughter. And in that time, I have played more. I have laughed more. I have enjoyed my daughter more. And by not feeling constantly frustrated, I have been able to spend more time keeping our house (relatively) tidy.

I have cooked dinner for my family, which we have eaten together as a family. Laura is eating more consistently, and is picking up new words and phrases like it’s her job (which I guess maybe it is).

It’s been two weeks since I gave up being frustrated with my daughter. My life is better. I have spent more energy reflecting on my fortunate life and my wonderful family. In the past two weeks, I have been a better wife, mother and person. This is the best thing I have ever given up for Lent.

A LITTLE EXPERIMENT
Laura has tons of toys. More than she could possibly ever play with. So most of them are completely ignored on a daily basis. I bet a lot of you moms out there are nodding your heads in agreements. Too many toys from too many loving relatives, and not nearly enough time in the day to play with them all.

I bet all you non-moms are shaking your heads in disgust. Why would a parent cave to the pressures of a capitalist society and buy all those damn toys? The answer: we didn’t. Thank you to the aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends for that one!

Not to sound ungrateful. The presents bestowed upon my daughter are lovingly selected and thoughtfully presented. We appreciate the sentiment behind each gift, and I am fairly good at remembering who gave us each toy.

The fact remains that our house is littered with toys that Laura isn’t even interested in. So last night, Nate and I went through them all. We matched up all the loose pieces (none missing!), and decided which we would keep upstairs, and which we would hide in the basement.

We kept the toys Laura plays with the most, and hid everything else. I don’t think Laura will even notice that her (once much loved) activity table is missing. She just doesn’t play with it anymore.

The puzzles, books, purses, and kitchen accessories made the cut. Isn’t it funny how the favorite toys are the least complicated?

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