There's Nothing Quite Like Having a Willful Two-Year-Old for Learning Powerlessness

She's a pistol: My friend Jenny once used this phrase to describe her daughter, a bright and opinionated big sister and social butterfly. At the time I thought I understood what she meant. But back then I saw dimly, as through a mirror. Now, I see face to face. I have seen the εἶδοςthe Form of Pistol. I was blind, but now I see.

Do you know the nursery rhyme There was a little girl by Longfellow?

There was a little girl,
           Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
           And when she was good,
           She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.

That's my daughter. I was telling my husband the other day that it's a good thing she was an angel baby and that we bonded early. Otherwise she wouldn't make it to her third birthday.

Human development is a strange mystery. So is human personality. We didn't experience a typical two-year-old phase with our oldest, who has autism. Also, despite his tantrums due to his limited ability to communicate, he's an easygoing, compliant kid. His sister, however, has a lot more spunk and vivacity. She also has zero problems communicating. As my husband said, "Autism's looking pretty good, isn't it?"

I struggle with scrupulosity, especially as a parent. Underneath my day-to-day parenting decisions is a deep-seated fear that no matter what I do, I'm going to screw up these kids.

It's hard to surrender fear about my kids because I love them. They are the fruit of our marriage and of my womb. They've stolen my brain cells. They're mine.

But both human development and personality prove that, ultimately, my children aren't mine. They are unique; I can't fashion them into what they are not. I can only shepherd them, and even then I have to allow enough space so they can exercise their will: room to try, room to make mistakes, room to sin and repent, room to succeed and grow, room to discover in what particular ways they are the image and likeness of God.

God promises me a spirit of freedom when I have faith in him, when I remember that He's in control, not me. My parenting fears and scruples are futile. God instead offers me an alternative: peace. Thanks be for that.