I know that every single parent goes through it: the dreaded meltdown. You can’t avoid it, and even though you may be one of those lucky parents whose children don’t have them often, (what are you feeding them?) they are probably more common than not to most parents. But sometimes as a mom, the aftermath of your child’s meltdown is far worse than the meltdown itself.
As parents, it can be hard when it comes to disciplining your child. There is a very fine line of discipline and showing the right amount of love that they need. It is especially during difficult situations, like meltdowns, that make me question whether I’m doing this whole “mom thing” right.
Mila turned 4 last month, and although the number of meltdowns and tantrums from Mila have reduced, they are still happening occasionally. And for me (and I’m sure a lot of you other mamas) those are the roughest moments.
The Big Meltdown
I was working from home the other day, (which is hard enough in itself, I talk about it on this post) when it happened. She was starting to whine, and I began to ignore her. Whining is one of my pet peeves and I’m always on her about talking in a nice tone. My ignoring her only made her more upset, and then shortly thereafter, she started screaming. I continued to ignore the screams and then she really lost her temper and started slapping my arm to grab my attention. (I was pretending to be laser-focused at the outside window, forcing myself to NOT yell while carrying Keira).
She then knew that she REALLY wasn’t going to get my attention because I didn’t flinch. She started crying to where she could barely breathe, and her words became stutters. I calmly told her that I wasn’t going to interact with her if she was going to be disrespectful and that I would wait to talk to her after she settles.
She then screamed for me to help her in calming her down, and I was torn between wanting to help her and wanting her to sort out through her emotions herself. I’ve been listening to a lot to Janet Lansbury’s podcasts and she talks a lot about letting children learn to go through their own emotions; so that’s what I was trying to do.
Did I take the meltdown too far?
And then she took a breath and sadly screamed, “Hug me, mommy.”
A pang of guilt came over me. Did I take it too far? Should I have tried to stop the meltdown sooner? Did I make it worse by ignoring her? Does she doubt my love for her? Am I being a bad mom?
We both knew that she knew better. She knew that hitting and yelling would not help the situation. She knows there are other ways to deal with frustrations and that I don’t appreciate the slapping and screaming. But she was also high with her emotions, and her meltdown didn’t stem from out of the blue, but rather she was in some DESPERATE need of love and attention.
These are the types of moments where I really question myself as a mom. And a lot of times, I can’t help but put blame on myself every single time these meltdowns occur.
Not enough Quality Time together
I know that she whines partly because she knows that’s one way to get my attention because it’s something I hate. I’m almost certain that Mila’s love language is quality time. If I’m not giving her enough, then I should guarantee that shes going to have a meltdown. Now that Keira is walking, our attention is on her a lot throughout the day. I can no longer just stick Keira in the activity center while I spend time with Mila. Although I try to spend uninterrupted time doing something with her, daily, I never feel like it’s enough. By the time I get home from work at 5:30pm Monday-Friday, managing time while trying to prep dinner and other things can be nearly impossible.
Outside stressors and the way it affects us
I do find that often she will have a meltdown when I’m not feeling the greatest. I fully believe that kids feed off your energy. So, when I’m stressed, tired, frustrated the meltdowns occur. And the hard part is when I’m all those things, it usually never stems from the kids, but rather other things that I have going on in the outside world, and my kids seem to get the brunt of it—which they don’t deserve.
Meltdowns are a lose-lose situation
I feel like although it’s bound to happen, meltdowns are a lose-lose situation. Because NO matter what, even though I’ll feel angry because they know better, I feel guilty 100% of the time. I always second guess myself on whether I handled the situation well enough, and what I should’ve done differently.
I feel pressured and I always ask myself if I could do more as a mom.
I felt so bad for letting it get to the point where she had to ask for a hug. Maybe I shouldn’t have let it get to the point and hugged her before she asked. But where do you draw the line in letting them figure things out for themselves to let them grow, versus just being a loving parent?
For the rest of the day, I hugged and kissed her randomly and kept reminding her how much I loved her. I apologized and told her that I hated getting “mad” at each other because it made me sad to see her so upset.
The aftermath of a meltdown
And then what I felt was a sensible thing to do. I blew up the 10” inflatable pool that had been sitting in the garage for almost 2 months and let her go crazy. I wanted to forget the meltdown and let her have the time of her life. She may not forget these moments, but I hope with all my heart that she knows I’m trying hard.
There are days where I feel like Super Mom, and there are other days like today where I feel as if I’ve failed our children or let them down. I think mamas can agree that more times than we would like, we feel like we’re not enough and not doing enough.
I’m in a constant battle with myself to remember that there is no such thing as a perfect child, a perfect mom, and a perfect family.
We are all figuring this “mom thing” as we go. So, despite the meltdowns, the tantrums, and the arguments that will continue to happen well into their teenage years, all we can do is try our very best. And that is enough. And to the mom that is reading this right now, you too, are MORE THAN ENOUGH.
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