So last night was one of my less than successful nights handling challenges with Michael. Anxious and tired tween in a room with anxious and tired Mom do not mix, nor should they communicate unless they absolutely have to, and even then, short sentences without taking the other’s one’s reactions personally is the order of the day and night. I was not that Mom yesterday, and it reflected in my parenting style which was a tad defensive, with a touch of self-pity and frustration with why nobody ever listens to me. I recall yelling something to Michael when he was yelling at me, “You don’t deserve me as your mother.” As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I felt terrible AND realized I hadn’t followed my own advice to Michael when he is angry and overwhelmed, “Stop, Think, And Ask for Space.” So, I secluded myself away for about fifteen minutes to calm down. I did, and things seemed to go better, that is, I seemed to be handling meltdown number two as well. It was meltdown number 3, just before bedtime that did me in physically, psychologically and spiritually. Michael was in total fight and flight about fears he said he now feels about going to big stores and places. I had told him no problem, we’ll tackle it together this week. Last night he did not want to hear that. He wanted reassurance that he would NEVER have to go to a big store. When I couldn’t give him that, he started to scream and become overwhelmed. It was bedtime and he had actually followed his routine pretty well, but was so anxious. I don’t know if the new medication is making things worse which was also frustrating. I was tired too from helping him through two other meltdowns, and was worn out. I was looking forward to going downstairs with a glass of wine to write, my refuge and sanity keeper, as well as another job I love to do.
It was not to be. I lost what little energy I had refueled earlier. Dad was in bed worn out from a busy day downtown at the endocrinologist and well, I started screaming, “Calm down. Calm down,” while Michael kept screaming “No big stores.” Yes, screaming calm down. Talk about a strategy that never worked for anyone. Michael stormed off to his room while I stormed off to my office downstairs, no wine, no energy left to write. I just cried. Long and hard sobs and got out ALL the frustration out from the afternoon and evening. I felt horrible. I felt like a failure as a Mom, as a parent. I let the anger and guilt come out. Michael needed a firm, calm hand. He is struggling with self-regulation so much, especially this time of the year. He needed a parent who could hold it together and when she can’t, step back sooner. When I finished crying, I was relaxed finally and went to bed. I slept well, and when I woke up this morning, as always, I said to myself that it was a fresh start as a Mom today. Michael’s first words were, “I’m sorry for last night Mom.” I accepted and told him the same. We had a good morning and a good homecoming after school today.
This got me thinking about what things I learn about myself each time I fail temporarily as a Mom. I wanted to share these so-called words of wisdom with you so Moms and Dads, you know you are never alone in your darkest parenting moments:
1) You will lose you sh*& once in awhile with your kids: It’s ok. You’ll lose your cool and mess up. Don’t lose the lesson. Learn from it, and become stronger.
2) Look back on what you needed that day/night and give it to yourself next time: If you are tired, make sure to sleep better. If you need alone time, ask for it. It will make you a better parent.
3) Be open to exploring where your anger comes from: Be open to finding out what are YOUR anger triggers and how you can best handle them next time.
4) Have a routine for personal time and stick to it: Have some time set aside each day, 5 or 10 minutes even, where you can be you. Not Mom. Not Dad. It will energize you to make better choices.
5) Think of family and friends who support you and share your feelings with them: If you need support and ideas, turn to family and friends who are there to help you, but may not know how.
6) Give yourself a break- we all mess up: Lastly, forgive yourself. You are doing a hard job, the hardest job on the planet, raising a human being, an exceptional one at that! Celebrate the moments you reach your child. Learn from the mistakes and you’ll see, in the end it all will even out.
Exceptional Parents, how have you handled dark nights of the Mommy soul? They are not easy, especially when you think of all your child has to deal with and feel you have failed them somehow. But don’t despair. No matter what they say, your children love you, depend on you, and know you are in their corner. As long as you take the time to work with and understand them, you will both become stronger from the experience. Until next time.