I was giving K her bath after a long week of solo parenting. L was traveling out of state and had called me to tell me he was extremely ill. I was worried about him and trying to hold down the fort on my own. I was tired. I was overworked. I needed a break. K wanted to look at something on my iPhone while she was in the bath and I refused. This is how it all started. What began as a tiny hissy fit quickly spiraled into what I can only describe as a complete meltdown right before my eyes! She was throwing her little body all around the bathwater with such force that I had to pull her out onto dry land for fear of her hurting herself.
The meltdown moved to the bedroom where I was met with more screaming and tears as a river of snot formed under her little nostrils. The screaming intensified and it felt like she was standing in my ear shrieking into it. One second, K was throwing her arms around my neck wanting comfort. The next she was pushing me away, crying, and giving me a look that basically said, “I hate you!!”
I felt so helpless. I attempted every tantrum defusing trick in the book, but nothing made a dent. This led to me sternly say, “Please stop. You need to calm down.” It was quickly followed by desperate pleading, “Stop. Just stop!” And ended with me screaming in frustration while she continued wailing.
Sometimes motherhood feels like you are holding a mirror up to your face and saying, “Do you like what you see?” I was having one of these self-reflective moments as I screamed alongside my very upset daughter. I knew I was letting all of this get the best of me. I knew I could do better. I knew I should have been a calm and collected leader. But, I wasn’t.
This tantrum pushed me over the edge. I excused myself for a minute to re-gain my composure. This actually somehow made it worse as my daughter’s screams seemed to go up an octave at the sight of me abandoning her.
After a few more painful minutes, she started to calm down. I sat with her in silence. I quickly learned that saying anything during a meltdown such as this, even consoling words, just enraged her further. I let her watch a little TV. She smiled at something Caillou said and I broke down. I told her I was sorry for losing my cool. I told her I loved her, and that I was learning and I would get better at this. We hugged and she went back to watching her cartoon almost as if nothing had happened.
A couple of weeks have passed. In the moment, I was beating myself up. I felt like I must have really scarred my daughter for life. I felt frustrated, angry, and upset. But now, as I sit and reflect on it today, I am able to see it for what it was: a toddler having a tantrum. I know I could have handled it better, but we have all moved on.
Currently, I am waiting for my motherhood patch that says, “I Survived My First Knock Down Drag Out Toddler Tantrum, Displayed Some Questionable Parenting, and Lived to Tell the Tale.”