Those that follow me know that I am not the mom that is writing a blog to help you parent your children better. I make no pretenses -at any point- that I have any idea what I am doing, if I doing anything right at all, or that I am anything resembling a perfect parent. I do not write tutorials for how to handle tantrums or stress and I rarely give advice outside of trust your instincts and forgive yourself for your imperfections.
Which is kind of ironic since I beat myself to death over mine.
Yesterday was Jp’s third birthday as well as being the end to an incredibly overstuffed and busy weekend. We took him to Sea World (which did not go well, go figure), had a party for him, and spent the entire two days running around, packing, making preparations, preparing food, buying presents…the full-court-press-works. By the time that last evening rolled around I was thoroughly and completely exhausted, to say the very least.
So, when the meltdown to beat all other meltdowns happened last night, I was not emotionally ready or prepared for it.
It was BAD. Bad with a capital B, bad to the bone, bad. Jp’s meltdowns, while less frequent than they once were, can be truly traumatic for all involved. And violent. Extremely violent. I have mentioned before that I am a short girl and Jp is over half my size now as well as being extraordinarily strong for his age. This makes the tantrums that were once, slightly disturbing, now actually quite painful for me.
There is no calming him; no time-outs that can be had that will be in any way effective and before you give advice, please know, he is three years old and this is not my first rodeo. I have tried every practice that the books and the internet has to offer to little or no avail. It is almost as though someone stole my sweet boy and replaced him with a child that had been raised in the wilderness and taught to fight to kill to protect himself. I, in those rare times, do not even know him and, if I am honest, how much that he hates me is scary. It is totally surreal.
While, normally when this happens, I am alert and with him mentally and just do my best to hold him and speak soothingly as I can until the storm passes and he goes to sleep…last night I was worn out, mentally drained, and I found myself frustrated with the whole debacle. That is never a good place to be.
I had a raw scratch across my cheek and about the 40h time that he boxed me in the face…I snapped. I picked him up by the shoulders, pulled him to eye level, and yelled to not hit me again. He replied by kicking me HARD in the chest. I just started crying. What was going on right now? “What to expect when you are expecting” never warned me about the day that my toddler would beat me. So I bent him over my knee and spanked him. He immediately started crying even harder than before and begged for a hug (his go-to when he knows he is in trouble). So I wrapped him up in my arms again and tried to be soothing. He boxed me a few more times until he finally ran out of steam and crashed out.
I got up, examined my wounds in the mirror, and just bawled until I fell asleep. I yelled, I shook him, and I lost my ability to be the calm one in that storm. I hated myself in that very moment. No matter what he does, the fact remains that he is the child and I am the parent. I have to keep my cool no matter what and, last night, I lost it.
I never wanted to spank, yell, or ever lose my temper in any way. I HATE it with the passion of a thousand suns. It truly breaks my heart every single time. Though, before one single person comments that violence begets violence and all of that regurgitated parenting book hoopla, I just want you to know that I am the mecca of positive reinforcement and (I believe) an incredibly patient and understanding mother. I love that boy with the fiery obsession that only a stay-at-home mom of one child could ever understand. But let us all remember that I took about 30-40 good, solid hits from a child that is over half of my size. Let us talk about what that feels like for just a minute.
The answer is…not nearly half as bad as losing my temper felt like.
I wish with every fiber of my being that I was a perfect mother– even though I know that there is no such thing. It does not stop that pain that comes with feeling like you failed as a mom. Like it is our duty to always be the sane one in these situations and come up short. It does not matter if you are 99% of the time…the one time out of one one hundred that you lose your temper and show that you are a human being with flaws and limits…you will be heartbroken.
And that is okay. I think it is -in the end- what makes you a good mom. If you did not hate yourself for your failings…why would you strive to be better?
So today, I strive to be better. And I gave Jp birthday cake after breakfast while I talked to him about hitting because I felt guilty. I think, as moms, that is all that we can do, right?
I'm just living minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day.