I know I've made progress as a mother when I can look up, see a reflection of my daughter in the glass, notice that her face is buried in her bowl that formerly held veggies and ranch dip--and just smile. For I immediately know what she's doing--she's finished the veggies and is now literally licking the bowl clean. She loves ranch dip--after all, it's made with sour cream, and she could sit down with a carton of sour cream and a spoon and go to town. Gross, I know. But she loves it.
Back to progressing as a mother...there was a time that I would have immediately jumped up, told her that licking a bowl is not using her manners, and asked her to please stop. After all, licking a bowl is NOT using your manners. But in the grand scheme of life, is that really a big deal? I mean, really--have YOU ever licked a bowl clean because it held one of your favorite things and you had to get every last bit of whatever? I'm sure I have, especially if it held chocolate or something else ooey, gooey and sweet. Was she hurting anyone or risking injury to herself? No, not at all. Was she really cute when she came to me with her bowl in her hand and had ranch dip from the bridge of her nose to the tip of her chin? You better believe it!! :)
My type A self has learned a lot on this journey of motherhood. I'm far from perfect, but I'd like to think I'm in a better place than I was when I began. Life is too short to stress over the little things. There are bigger battles that are more worthy of my time and energy than the little piddly things, like licking a bowl clean when no one is around to be offended. I try to say yes to my kids as often as I can (I don't mean to unsafe or otherwise detrimental things--I mean to the questions of "can I paint on the easel?" or "can I play in the bathtub" or questions of those sorts), especially when saying no is self-centered and focused on MY desires rather than on the desires of my children to simply have fun and enjoy life.
It's amazing what God can teach us through our children if we'll just stop and pay attention. And it's amazing how much more fun we can have each day if we'll just stop and let our children take the lead!