I chose relationship - over first time obedience. I chose love (the kind freely given for no merit other than *being*) - over control. I chose co-operation over being the boss. I chose joy and freedom and grace over mistrust and regulations and punishment.
Sometimes, I doubt my ability to live up to those choices. Sometimes I wish I had first time obedience, and the ability to pull out the "because I said so" parental red card, and just *not* have a discussion about what needs to happen next.
But I chose. I chose relationship. And that's what I got.
I got a seven year old who forgives me as readily as she sometimes stomps off upstairs declaring how unfair I am, who notices when I have a down day and comes to tell me she thinks I'm doing just great. Who defends her little sisters when they don't have the words.
I got this four year old who says, "I know!" and giggles, and snuggles into my shoulder when I say, "I love you." Who comes to me with every hurt. Who tells me, "That wasn't nice, mummy" when my tone of voice is off or when I intervene too roughly to separate warring children.
I got a two year old who indignantly tells me not to shout, and who tells me, "I'm really crying, I am still so sad," in her most articulate way, when I'm keen to hurry along the process and have her stop crying... I got her sunshine, got every last moment of unhurried babyhood, every cuddle that I could have traded for a lie-in - the cuddle always won.
When I just want to squash them all, or trade them in for cats, I wish I could remember these things. They are confident and loving and true to themselves. They are open with me, and tell me when I'm messing up, they forgive my temper and help me deal with it.
I couldn't, really, have chosen anything better.