It’s been pretty busy around here lately. I mean when is it not, right? But lately life has been messing with our routine and it always seems to me that the first thing to get cut are the couple of hours per week I set aside for myself. I’ve learned that when I don’t get a bit of time for myself I turn into the She Devil and no one seems to like her, including me.
One Tuesday we all woke up to a sunny warm day in Chicago. Jack had a tantrum. And then another. And then another. It was clear that his lack of naps for several days in a row was catching up with him. By 9am I was teetering toward total meltdown.
My husband gets off of work early on Tuesday and this is my day to spend 1.5-2 hours alone. I work out and then I blog. (Yeah, it’s cathartic telling you all my personal baggage.) But Jack was not handling any transition with ease today. After limping through the day from hell I began to run on the treadmill. I could hear Jack go into yet another tantrum. I turned up the music. “This is my only fucking time, I’m taking it. I’m not going upstairs.”
I couldn’t help myself and I continued to hit pause so that I could check that Jack was still crying. “Let it go, Abby. Josh can deal with it.” I just wanted them all out of the house so bad. I just wanted to be alone. I just wanted to be alone. I became overcome with a desire to butt in. I hopped off the treadmill and ran upstairs. “Go outside! Get your shoes on and go outside!” Jack continued to cry that the balloons (for Grandma’s birthday) were being displayed incorrectly. I took all of the balloons, untied them and put them where he wanted them, “There! Now go outside!” I ran back to the treadmill.
Jack chose something else to cry about. Jack was so tired. It was too early to go bed and too late to nap. He needed distraction. He needed to go outside! “I am going to just keep running and Josh will get him outside.” I was having a totally miserable time on the treadmill. It’s really hard to have fun doing anything when you can hear your kid crying.
I felt the anger in me grow. The tantruming screams pierced my ears. I hopped off the treadmill and ran away into another room and screamed at the top of my lungs until my throat hurt. I knew I was flailing around and couldn’t find my way back to any reasonable thinking. I kept thinking about how my personal time was being cut into. The minutes were ticking away. I thought, “Well, I can cut out the squats.” “I can cut the run short by 5 minutes.” With every slice to my personal time I could feel parts of my body and soul falling away.
I then ran upstairs and told Jack to put his shoes and socks on. I told him to go outside. I started to yell at him that this is my time and I don’t get much of it. I picked him up and put his socks on. I put his shoes on. He started to take his shoes off all the while crying. I started to run back downstairs, he yelled, “Mommy, I want you to listen to me!” I yelled back, “I’m sick of listening to you!” My husband picked Jack up and took him out of the house.
There we have it. One more emotional stab to my little boy’s heart. Why can’t I just stay the hell out of it? Why can’t I just walk away from my family and let them work it out? My husband is perfectly capable of dealing with these kids. I never help. When I’m all worked up I never do anything but make it worse. When my cup is empty I have a terribly shitty time thinking clearly and rationally.
I should have jumped off that treadmill and ran out the back door. I could have jogged my energy back, found some balance and saved Jack the broken heart. There are plenty of times when everyone would benefit from me just going the hell away.
Abby Theuring, MSW
Thank you so much. I love reading your blog. It makes me realize I’m not the only one who has horrible days and I feel a little better knowing that it’s okay to be an imperfect mom. I try and keep my cool as long as I can, but when my very needy 9month old needs my attention almost every second of the day and my very active 3 year old has so much energy and so many questions i feel like I’m going to completely lose it. Abby, you fucking rock. Thank you for sharing real stories and not sugar coating mommyhood.
Your blog is my favorite. I love how real you are, you don’t type a bunch of bullshit, it’s just you. I feel like a lot of your posts are exactly how I am feeling, or exactly things I have said or wanted to say. I have days where it’s just hard. The toddler is mad, I’m mad, it’s been a bad day, and nothing is going right. I try to tell myself that these things are normal, that this is just the way it, but half the time it doesn’t help and I end up being even more frustrated. Taking time for myself is hard. I just want to do everything, be there for every meltdown. But sometimes mom just needs a minute too.
Thank you for helping me realize that I’m not alone. Yesterday my best friend walked into my house to me throwing shoes against the wall screaming “She won’t stop screaming. I just want her to shut up!” Yea. I was immediately put in time out and escorted outside and handed a glass of wine. We just let my two-year-old scream on the other side of a shut door because it was just healthier for both of us that way.
Sometimes I just need to put myself in time out.
Thank you for being so bravely honest.
Thanks for sharing! We are not alone!
Thank you for this. I’ve been there and always feel terrible afterwards. But in the moment your patience is lost and you can’t keep calm. When you’re tired and there’s crying and whining it just gets to you and you yell. No one is perfect and we all try our best. I don’t necessarily believe in the “terrible twos”, i think there are reasons they are having tantrums – trying to communicate, teething, growing, being tired or hungry. But you don’t always think that when you are about to lose your mind. I hate yelling and i try to talk with my LO but when you’re pushed to your limit it gets very difficult. Thanks again we are all great moms who love our children, and let’s face it if they weren’t so damn cute we’d probably eat them :)
I can completely sympothise…..had a melt down just like this a couple days ago….when I was sick and frustrated that my 2 and 4 yr olds want to have tantrum after tantrum when the didn’t feel good as well ….I yelled at them and at my boyfriend and my oldest son when all they were trying to do was help. Thank you for helping me to understand we all are human and its ok to make a mistake as long as you are aware and want to make it better next time….you help me keep that in perspective
Oh Abby, you’ve done it again! I have these days. Way more often than I’d like. Hug yourself and remember it’s okay to not be perfect. The quickest and easiest way for me to reset myself is going for a drive. I put all the windows down and blast music. I scream or “sing” really really loud and just let out all my aggression. After about 15 minutes I feel brand new. Disclaimer: it makes me feel even guiltier for my previous meltdown. :-(. But it gives me the time I need to realize my 2.5 year old isn’t trying to be mean or drive me batshit.
I’ve also started meditating again. I close my eyes and black out my mind and take ten deep breaths and then after that I picture myself on the beach in the Caribbean. I focus on how the warm clear water splashes over my legs and the way the sand feels between my toes and fingers. I “listen” to the sound of the trees blowing in the wind and feel the warmth of the sun on my body. That helps too, but the drive is more effective.
I hope you have a tantrum free day tomorrow. ;-)
Thank you! Thank youthankyouthankyou!!! I have these moments more often than I’d like to admit and is always a relief to know I’m not alone.
Be easier on yourself. Yes, tantrums are terrible to hear and even harder to do nothing about but you haven’t truly hurt his heart. He is a person and like all people must learn that people disagree and then make up when they love each other. Also, you can’t give up your “me time”. If staying in the house is too hard, get out of the house to work out. Gentle parenting is always an uphill battle because parents are still human and they get upset and we all take it out on those closest to us. So, give yourself a break. Keep trying but know that when you yell and breakdown, you just have to remember to come back later with an apology and a hug and that will teach Jack and Exley conflict resolution skills they will need in the not so distant future.
Oh, we’ve all been there. And nothing like the demands of our kuds can get us there faster. Re: tantrums over order and things not being perfect, a psychologist recommended Raising Your Spirited Child. It really helped, and, I must admit a bit guiltily, helped me to see that I too am throwing tantrums sometimes and I’ve been applying the advice to myself too!