Oh the things I said I’d never do.
We all had a “list” didn’t we?
Like never feeding my kids junk food or pop until at least age five.
Drive my kids around until they are sleeping.
Or let them get away with screaming their heads off in the grocery store.
Not buy them the item they were begging for in the toy aisle.
Never give in to “Please mom! Please! Please! PLEASE MOM!”
Or let my kids sleep with me.
I am a big list maker and enjoy how amazing it feels to check off items on the list as completed. Whatever chore I don’t get done or grocery item that didn’t get picked up gets transferred to the next day’s schedule.
So whatever happened to my “never” list for my kids?
I thought I was doing pretty good when our first son was born. Other than not sleeping well at night, he was pretty easy to mother.
When there’s no other siblings in the house you are the greatest influence on what they eat so keeping sugar and junk food out was easy peasy.
He was usually happy and had very few tantrums and wasn’t the least bit interested in sleeping between my husband and I. Sooo…Check. Check. And…Check!
Three years later our second son arrived and I mentally got out the “I will never” or “My kid will never” list to be ready for the next go-around.
Just as much in love with boy #2 as the first one, however his intensity rocked my world within weeks of his birth.
His ups were as delightful as his brilliant blue eyes and the downs were more overwhelming than anything I’d ever seen or experienced before.
Clutching my “list” and trudging through, determined as ever to not “fail” my “never will I” checklist, I began sinking; feeling out of control. The idea of what kind of mother I was going to be was slipping out of my grasp and the kind of kid I was going to have was nowhere in sight.
His daytime naps were all of ten minutes long and when he wasn’t eating or sleeping, he was screaming.
He nursed and slept in our bed so both could enjoy some rest and peaceful nights. He hated his carseat and the double stroller, and our three year old toddler loved walks but even he got to the point of asking to just stay home because all ways of travel with our baby strapped into ANY seat was unbearable crying that brought our whole family to tears.
We were beside ourselves with grief over our world turned-upside-down, plans rearranged, vacations cancelled or interrupted. Our home had turned into a field of landmines, with multiple eruptions occurring daily and the aftermath lasting for hours at times.
When my husband was home in the evenings and on weekends we tag-teamed with the kids until we both collapsed in bed in utter exhaustion. In some ways I grieved time with my oldest son because the youngest often only tolerated ME consoling him.
He was always a big boy, from birth weighing in @ 9lbs 10oz, and my arms would feel like they were going to break off from holding him. At times I would sit on the corner of my bed and bounce him until he was soothed. But once I’d let go to place him in his bed he’d scream and scream.
It’s almost about now that the “books” will tell you to just let them cry it out and self-soothe. I’ll be nice and only say that the people who wrote this advice never had a child like my son…
In fact there really wasn’t a person in my circle or far reaching radius that I could relate to at this stage.
To predict the upsets and meltdowns became almost impossible and what worked to help him one day would never work again. Just when I thought he needed holding immediately turned to a firm push on my chest and the screaming continued.
In one instance he tolerated being held or rocked then the next he didn’t want me anywhere near him. He definitely didn’t much like touch from others either, although for a short time as a toddler he would run up to his Grandpa for a HUGE bear hug.
It was just a window of time but I cherish it immensely.
And at another stage in his young life he would only let my sister comb his hair. She lived 4 hours away so for most of his growing up years his hair was a mess, as even I, his mother, could not brush his hair.
He’d wipe my kisses off his face and yell “NO!” if I turned the radio on or sang in the van.
As fast as I learned new tools to help him with his wild behaviors and major upsets, he’d have an opposite shift, from white to black and I’d feel helpless once again.
Yes, you guessed it, black would turn to white in seconds leaving us scrambling.
From where I was sitting, most onlookers were bewildered, especially those who spent any amount of time with our family because an explosion was inevitable and usually came upon us with little to no warning.
What I imagined that they were thinking fueled my insecurities as a mother. I did however manage to get the courage to sign up for play school. Again and again we tried, but the meltdowns and upsets continued and we had to leave early each week.
Upon one morning walking out the doors to our vehicle a lady’s voice called out across the parking lot.
“You know, if you would’ve started him earlier this wouldn’t be a problem.”
Sadly next play school day, I was going to get this kid there NO MATTER WHAT!!
It was a cold winter day and he and I wrestled as I attempted to forcefully stuff him in his snowsuit! He wailed. I yelled. He eventually wriggled out of my weakening hold on him and I fell into a heap of tears on the kitchen floor and exhaled “Never again.”
It was very near this day during an explosive moment that took over our morning when I wrote down these words as he sat next to me crying, rocking his body into me and the sofa.
A tangled mess of overwhelming
Has taken over and few smiles remain.
The eruptions of anger and screaming
Are far more than one can take.
The urge to run is present again,
To find quiet and soothing somewhere near,
For the wounds we have given from
The battle that brings so many tears.
The war has long raged between us
Though the love has not changed.
My heart has been steadfast
Since I gave you your name.
So what happened next?
Most days it felt like I was hanging onto life…and sanity…by my pinky toe.
Today I want to remove the dread that hangs over your days. The big heavy sigh that comes as you climb out of bed before the day even starts. Or the thump you feel in your chest when your child collapses or comes at you with hard body nudges and you know he’s ramping up to 60.
The best way to do that is to have in your back pocket simple on-the-go strategies that help remove tension and the triggers. You will be amazed how they will stop meltdowns before they start!