Thoroughly Modern Mammy Maria discusses the importance of having a catch-up with your little one before they doze off
To say that parenthood is an emotional roller coaster is a HUGE understatement.
It’s like someone has put every emotion you could possibly feel into a bottle, topped it up with explosives, given it a good shake and popped the cork.
Mini-Me recently went through a rough patch.
Actually, I’m wrong.
WE recently went through a rough patch.
She was throwing tantrums like one of those tennis ball launcher machines… constantly and violently.
I was banging my head off a brick wall.
Nothing anyone said helped… her playschool, my mum, friends with kids, the interweb. Nothing.
There was screaming. There were tears. There was foot stomping, huffing, door banging and rage.
And I was as guilty of each of these as she was.
After one particularly shitty day, where we’d had some epic melt downs, I stood by her bedside, watching her sleeping.
And I sobbed my heart out.
I was looking at her perfect, pretty little face, content and soft in the dark.
I was wondering how someone so small and innocent could really be making me feel so much anger and frustration.
Not 30 minutes earlier, she had been screaming and crying because she didn’t want her teeth brushed. I was irritated and exhausted and ended up shouting at her. She completely fell apart then and sobbed her way to sleep.
My beautiful girl, who I adore and for whom I would die, fell asleep with my angry words ringing in her ears.
And it broke my heart.
Hubby arrived home to a snivelling mess, but after the previous weekend where we’d ventured to Dublin for the night, he wasn’t surprised. Her behaviour that weekend had been so testing, that any notion we had of a family holiday abroad this year, went out the window.
She was just too stressful.
And so was I.
Because it wasn’t only Mini -Me’s behaviour that had to change.
I was obviously doing something completely wrong too.
And after all, she’s 4.
It’s not really her job to fix things is it?
I read article after article on “Positive Parenting”? And while in theory, it’s just lovely, when your little cherub is stopping just short of spinning her head 360° in the supermarket because another child looked at her, it isn’t always effective.
When she’s hitting me, it’s not okay to say “I understand you’re angry but this is making Mammy sad.” Because my 4 year old can throw a bloody punch.
What it did help with however, was getting me to behave myself.
Instead of automatically scolding every time she “started”, I found myself anticipating the little triggers and choosing my battles.
I tried hugging, distraction, affirmative language.
I even started dancing like a lunatic to whatever pop song was on the radio if she started whining. (This is worth it on sooooooooo many levels. She ends up laughing and then joining in. I end up looking like an absolute eejit but burning off some of the frustration I’m feeling.
And yes, it diverts the tantrum or row or whatever is about to kick off.)
I’ve started having “chats” with her at bedtime. I ask her what her favourite thing was about today, what made her happy, what made her sad, what she wants to dream about…things like that. And it’s helping. She really surprised me after a few nights, when she said “Mammy, what makes you love me?”
I listed off all the things I love about her.
She was delighted with herself.
We’re getting there.
I’ve also made an effort to do some stuff with her on our own. I’m pretty sure that some of the behaviour was stemmed from a little bit of jealousy of the baby.
So, while we have a looooooong way to go, (and realistically, I’m aware that I may get used to it!), we’re getting there, slowly.
Someone wrote this week that Mummy bloggers are putting pressure on Mums to be perfect. She’s reading the wrong bloggers.
Being a mum isn’t easy.
Yes it’s amazing, and fulfilling and wonderful and hilarious, and it’s my favourite job in the world.
But it’s also terrifying, difficult, exhausting, testing and brutal. There are days and nights where you feel so crappy about yourself that you don’t even have the energy to cry.
You question your own decisions.
You doubt your every thought.
You analyse your reactions.
You look in the mirror and wonder what the hell is happening.
You feel guilty for wanting just 5 minutes to yourself.
You wonder if you’re ever going to get it right.
You honestly believe sometimes that you’re going crazy.
You stand by her bedside, watching her sleep…sometimes smiling, sometimes crying, but always loving and knowing that tomorrow is a new day.
The rough patch is gradually passing, (until the next one).
Because I relaxed a bit and you know what, it probably was just “a phase she’s going through.”
And while this phase is currently calm and better, I’ll enjoy it.
I am stand by your bed mum.
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