Before I became a mother myself I had this image of being a calm, composed, lively, organized, sorted, sane, cool (did I leave out anything) mom. Cut II – the 1st year was tiring mostly with sleeplessness and not knowing what my day would look like. But it was the honeymoon period of motherhood. Halfway into the 2nd year, my child’s personality started to blossom. I am extremely happy that she is becoming a person of her own. I can talk to her like a person – like do you want banana or grapes. And she would very clearly refuse the one that she didn’t want. Life sorted, right? Well, faaaar from it. Having a choice and a will, also meant that she can refuse stuff that I want her to do – you see all those feelings of I own you, I can tell you what to do from the previous piece – https://ureinvent.wordpress.com/2018/03/15/child-is-the-father-of-man – down the drain. It doesn’t work. It’s not meant to work. The ‘terrible twos’ as they are famously called had arrived in our house.
One day, last week was my closest encounter with this phase. I was tired, exhausted and anxious as a lot of my work was pending. To make it worse, I wasn’t able to concentrate in the little time I could find during the day. Come the evening – we witnessed a mega episode of Tantrum Land. She was particularly whiny and clingy and clearly upset about something. While I waited for her to calm down so that I could finish my assignment, her anxiety and upset just continued to grow. I am guessing she didn’t want me to be concentrating on anything other than her. Which is fair but then how do I tell this little one that life isn’t fair – it’s not meant to be fair – it’s not designed to be fair. I tried everything from offering her different snack options, different games, toys, books and what not but nothing would calm her down. I felt like yelling at her to just stop the drama. My mind is running out of options. I can’t help you anymore.
She could sense my frustration and her upset kept growing. She took to crying as hard as she could. In my helplessness of not being able to make her world happy all over again, I started to cry too. As I continued to shed my tears, I am yelling in my head – please stop, please stop. My internal battle continued and I just sat there watching her break down – it tore my heart into a million pieces with no energy to put it all together. I could neither help her nor myself. It was in this desperate moment that I realized something very crucial – I wasn’t really angry on her; my wanting to yell was only a symptom of my frustration, my helplessness, my unexpressed anxiety, my unhandled chores. She was only triggering a need – I needed help.
And that’s what these desperate moments are all about – a cry for help. But we happen to unleash our storm on the powerless (or so we assume) amidst us; our child. And as seek a sense of control by yelling at our kid and salvaging the situation, their personality has been afflicted forever – when you can’t handle things yourself, yell at the next less powerful person. What we really need is some help, something/someone to put us together when we break down.
What do you do when you are falling apart?