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Am I Tired, Or Is She Harder?

Maddie’s always been on the front of
the developmental curve; she walked, talked, and hit most
milestones on the early side. And since she was our first child,
every step of the way – rolling over, sitting up, walking
– was new and fascinating and worthy of sonnets.

Which is probably at least partially why
Cora’s been even further ahead on the developmental curve:
she knows she’s got to really step up her game to impress us.
First steps? We’ve seen ‘em. First steps at ten months
old? Now THAT’S impressive! “Mama, dada” –
old news. Complete sentences at 18 months – that’s

Cora’s been consistently ahead of
her sister in hitting all those little milestones that seem to mean
so much at the time, bowling through them months ahead of schedule
without even glancing back or slowing down. She seems to be ahead
on everything else, too – things like figuring out how to
play complicated games, or enjoy dress-up. Some of these things are
clearly being picked up simply because she’s around a big
sister whom she adores and wishes to emulate in every way. Maddie
never wanted to dress up in a tutu and do practice ballet at a year
and a half, but then again she never went and watched a ballet
class once a week, either.

All my friends say their second kids have been similar, a product
of constant example and less fearful parents (now that we’re
broken in and jaded). Cora is certainly much more fearless than
Maddie was, climbing onto tables it never would’ve occurred
to Maddie to scale, or brazenly trying to play with the gas stove
or sharp scissors. Cora has much more natural curiosity, I guess
I’d say.

And with all those other early steps comes one other – early
tantrums and discipline issues. On the one hand, Cora sees how we
discipline Maddie, and learns the correct way to behave and speak.
On the other hand, she’s got a front-row seat to some amazing
three-year-old temper tantrums, and I can see Cora practically
taking notes with a speculative gleam in her eye.

All this early development is wearing me down, I’ll confess.
Cora didn’t start sleeping through the night until she was
fifteen months old (yes, MONTHS), and I’m still operating on
that sleep deficit, especially since she’s still not the
world’s best sleeper and has already shown signs of trying to
give up that afternoon nap. So I’m physically more tired with
Cora than I was on a daily basis with Maddie. My focus, too, is
split, and Cora has to vie for my attention with someone who has
infinitely better verbal skills and can keep a nonstop stream of
“Why?” questions going for a good twenty minutes. Cora
doesn’t stand a chance of catching my eye unless she actually
does drag that stool over and grab the scissors.

I do feel no small measure of guilt over this, wondering if Cora
was naturally born this way – an unrepentant sinner,
determined to try everything at least once – or if
she’s become this way because of circumstances. Is she
naturally clingy because I spent much of her first weeks
deliberately reassuring Maddie that I wasn’t forsaking her
for the newcomer, probably at Cora’s expense; or is she
simply built to be a clingy kid?

Whatever the answer, as I said, I’m wearing down. I find I
have much less patience with Cora than I did with Maddie at
Cora’s current stage; I become snappish and brusque with Cora
when she doesn’t immediately obey me, or turns into one of
her “No! I won’t!” tantrums. I’m so used to
being able to control Maddie to a degree with breaks and loss of
privileges that I’m easily stressed at my inability to do the
same with Cora. She seems to push my buttons faster, and I find
myself gritting my teeth and seething beneath the surface in a way
I simply can’t remember with Maddie.

Am I alone in this? I can’t tell if Cora really is more
difficult to control than Maddie, or if I’ve simply run out
of patience after four straight years of working on discipline. As
I move forward with Maddie and she deepens in obedience and
understanding, I just really have a hard time going backwards to
that place of answering the same question twenty times, or saying
no to the same thing over and over, or dealing with a child too
young to be molded with consequences and breaks.

So I pray, daily, that God will grant me patience, and that my
child will grow up to be the person He’s formed her to be
– sometimes in spite of my parenting. I love her fiercely,
and immediately feel anguished and remorseful every time my
patience is less than it should be and my voice raises in volume or
I speak sharply to her. I vow to dig deep and try harder, to tap
into that well of infinite patience I seemed to have with Maddie at
this age.

But it doesn’t always work, and so sometimes the best I can
do is pray that she won’t remember my sharpness, my
impatience, when she’s older, and hopefully I’ll have
outgrown this stage myself.


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