When You Are Raising a 4-Year-Old


Several years ago, I was sitting in a meeting of International Women.  I was seated next to a beautiful Danish woman.  She had 2 children.  I had 1.  One 4-year-old daughter.

We bonded over that mere fact.

Being moms.

And, as we were virtually strangers, yet with something HUGE in common, we had a lot to talk about.

Okay—we had parenting and mom-ming and kids to talk about.

But it was one of the deepest conversations of my life.

We looked at each other and both of, respectively, said, “We are so thankful that we don’t beat our children.”

It’s as if we were leaning over to give one another high fives for keeping our children alive.

Like really.

We spoke on HOW difficult parenting is.  How hard it is to practice restraint.  How MUCH  you want to, well, basically, put your child in a VERY big box and shut the lid.

It was so refreshing to have an honest parenting conversation with another mom.  A mom that looked like she had EVERYTHING together.

Because parenting is HARD HARD HARD.

IT, your beautiful baby, your precocious toddler—turns FOUR…FOUR!

And you think…have I spawned the devil?

And these precious creatures we have spawned literally live to drive us bat crazy.  You feel as if you have no shred of self control left.  You literally have to physically leave the presence of your spawn.

Parenting is hard.  And I get so ridiculously crazy of these soft-spoken moms that are like “Blah, blah, blah…the beauty of parenting…AND MAKING BUTTER..” because I am all like…MY KID LIVED TODAY!!!!!

And I feel as if I should run outside and SHOUT IT ON THE ROOFTOPS!

And I feel as if they should literally make a MADE FOR TV movie about my heroism.


This woman.  This stranger.  She got all of that.  We talked for a long time about how people really should praise mommies for maintaining control.  We talked about parents that struggled with doing what’s right.  We talked about how much help we need as parents.

We need help.  The good parents.  The bad parents.  THE PARENTS.  We need help.

Because our job is the biggest in the world.  And it’s the hardest in the world.  And we have little little little people that trust us for safety and protection and life—as they should—even while they are trying to snuff that VERY life out of us.

Right now I am raising my second 4-year-old.  I say second, because my daughter was my first and she is now 10.

And she is the FINEST decade gal you will ever meet (decade gal is what she calls her 10-year-old self).

She is funny and kind.  She is smart and hardworking.  She is silly and fun.  She is outgoing yet shy.  SHE IS THE BEST!

I couldn’t ask for a more amazing child.

Yet when she was four—I thought she was the she-devil herself.  And I could hardly see straight because she drove me so insane.

And I PRAYED that we would BOTH live through that phase.  That phase of her being 4.

Stubborn.  Screaming.  CRYING…PUBLIC HUMILATION.  Up the wazoo.

I felt ashamed every time I walked in public with her because of her meltdowns and fits and tantrums.

I wanted to return this child I prayed so hard to receive.

And I thought I would never make it past this phase of being the WORST MOMMY EVER!

Yet here she sits at 10 as the BEST version of any kid I could imagine building on my own.  Like, literally, if I could design a child, this child would still not come out as great as my decade gal.

And so I have chosen to write this post today for me.  For you.  For every HONEST mom out there that is pulling her hair, just trying to survive.

I write this for the solidarity of US!

We do deserve high fives.  We do deserve made for TV movies.  We deserve honor and recognition that our children are alive despite the fact that we are now bald.

You are doing a fine job.  Maybe some days you want to cry because you feel like you are the worst.  But take a deep breath.  Go in the other room.  Cry.  And then breathe again.  Because your 4-year-old will not be a 4-year-old forever.

One day your 4-year-old will turn into your decade gal…and you will be able to look at your child and see that you have made it.  You have survived.  And you are doing a darn fine job of it.

Drink a coffee…Eat dessert.  And breathe.

Because the teenage years are just around the corner.


I didn’t steal it…It “fell” from the sky. Thanks, God?!


“Say what, Dadda?  You didn’t!”

We moved to AZ the summer before I started the 5th grade.  The rental house that we were renting was close enough to school that we could ride our bikes or take the bus.  When it 115F outside we preferred to take the bus.  However the buses didn’t have AC so the bus was probably hotter than taking our bikes or walking.

The summer that I started 7th grade we moved into our own home.  It was wonderful and the location was great.  Getting to the Junior High meant we either were required to walk, bike, or be driven.  We were too close for the bus yet we were pretty far away.  I think the walk was at least a mile (each way uphill and in the snow) :).

One hot afternoon walking home from school I had 50 cents with me.  I stopped halfway home at the grocery store.  It was hot…hot…hot…More than 110F.  This grocery store had a Coke machine outside their doors on the sidewalk.

I put in my 50 cents, hit the Coke button, and out came my Coke and my 50 cents.

Wow!  Let me do that again!

I put in my 50 cents, hit the Coke button, out came my Coke and my 50 cents.


I was on a roll.  I couldn’t believe it.  God was blessing me!

In fact, I had to go into the grocery store and get two plastic bags so I could hold the 15 Cokes that I got out of the vending machine plus my 50 cents!

I carried those Cokes the rest of the way home and showed my parents the blessings from God.  How He, God, took my 50 cents and multiplied it and instead of one Coke I got 15.

My parents tried to explain to me that this was stealing from the man who owns the Coke machine.  I didn’t see it that way.  After all, it was a blessing from God, right?

I had to return all those Cokes to the store that day and learned a lesson about stealing.

I should have reported the broken machine to the grocery store so that they could fix it after the FIRST “free” Coke.

Fast forward a few years-to yesterday.   I was at Costco returning my unused car battery and an unopened printer.  I asked that the refund be put on my credit card.  She said no problem, “Go ahead and sign here.”

She issued me my receipt and I was about to walk away when I decided to look at the amount.  I wanted to make sure that I was refunded in full.

When I looked at the receipt I did a double take.  The amount that she put back on my card was $568.  It should have read $200.

WOW!  God blessed me again.  This time with $368!

I tried to explain that this amount wasn’t correct.  The lady tried to explain to me that it was.  She even looked at the receipt and tried to convince me.

I looked up my credit card information really quickly to check my statement on my phone.

Maybe I was wrong.  But no.  The charge for the printer was $103.48 not $450.

I could have walked away with the free money they were trying to throw at me, but I learned when I was younger the importance of not stealing-no matter if the person made a mistake or not.

I share this story with you, not because I’m perfect (Just ask my wife.  Wait.  Please don’t.  Haha)…

But I share this story with you as an encouragement to you and your children.

Look for every opportunity to teach them the right way, God’s Way.

And, secondly, look for every opportunity to be an example to your children, spouse, friends, and coworkers.

Be the example, folks.  Not the thief.

Thank you for allowing me to be the Guest Blogger.  I look forward to seeing you one more time this week.

(c. photo above Erin DeZago)