Hi, Julie here. I have a confession to make. I woke up this morning and within 10 minutes of being awake, I cried. It was just one of those mornings... where your toddler starts throwing a tantrum at 7:30AM and you don't know why. (why child why?!!)
She's frustrated because you don't understand her and you're frustrated because she doesn't have the verbal language to communicate what she wants you to understand. So what happens next...
You end up in a puddle of your own salty tears and have a breakdown.
YUP. This post is all about toddler tantrums and mommy breakdowns.
Motherhood lately has been difficult. It's exciting in the aspect that your baby is FINALLY talking! But it's also really taxing when they don't have the language to communicate everything.
As a teacher, I know that one of the main reasons kids tantrum and act out is not because they want to, but because that's the only way they know how to get your attention- because they don't have the language to express their needs/wants. So, what makes my child any different than my own students having a melt down?
She's waking me up at 7:30AM frustrated because she wants more milk and can't open her milk bottle. She communicated "and me... and me..." because she wants to independently open the bottle that mommy screwed on too tight last night and no matter how much she tries to loosen it, it won't. Granted, she's trying to tighten it rather than loosening it, but that's beside the point. She'd used all the language she knows to communicate what she can but mommy still didn't understand. So now, here she is crying and throwing herself all over the bed and onto the floor because mommy isn't understanding why she's repeating "and me... and me...". Half asleep, here I am trying to understand what she means by "and me... and me..." and offering what I think she wants.
"Halie, do you want more milk?" (yeah... and me... *cry)
"And me... you want to come with umma?" (no.... and me and me.... *cry)
"Okay, and me what?" (and me... and me.... *cry)
"And me more milk? And me up? And me what babygirl?" (and me... *tantrum)
"I GET YOU WANT AND ME... BUT AND ME WHAT HALIE. USE YOUR WORDS." (*tantrum)
- insert mommy guilt here -
- deep breaths in/out -
"Halie, what do you want?" in a quiet and calm voice
THAT'S IT. I crawled back into bed, pulled the blanket over my head, and just CRIED.
Honestly, I didn't mean to and I don't know why I was crying... Because I felt guilty for raising my voice? Because I deep down inside knew she was tantrum-ing because she wasn't being understood? Because I suck at parenting and disciplining? Because I wanted to sleep in a little longer? Probably a combination of them all, but those tears were real and they didn't stop rolling.
Once Han came to assist with the situation and I'd gathered myself- I tried again. This time, vowing to not raise my voice, lose my temper, but also to not resort to "1... 2... 3...".
"Halie, umma is sorry she cried. But when Halie cry, umma is sad too. Okay?" (K... *crocodile tears)
"So let's try again. Use your words but no crying this time. Okay?" (K...)
"Thank you. You're sad because umma didn't understand you?" (yeah...)
"Yeah... So do you want more milk?" (yeah...)
"Okay. Should we go out and get more milk? Yes or no?" (no... gripping the bottle)
"No? Okay. Do you want umma to open the bottle?" (no... and me... *crocodile tears)
"Halie, remember no crying. And me open the bottle?" (yeah...)
- She keeps trying but can't open it -
"Oh, the cap is on too tight, huh? Umma can help you. Do you want help?" (no...)
- tries to loosen it once more, can't -
- crawls back into bed and just drinks the 5 little drops of milk that's left in the bottle and settles at that -
That was it. That was that.
Thank you Jesus for restoring peace into our morning.
Mamas, "terrible twos" is real. Tantrums are real. But so are you and your emotions.
It's okay to cry sometimes. It's okay to not understand your child the first time around. It's okay to breakdown sometimes.
Because it's in those moments our kids see that we're humans too and not some magician or some superhero. It's in those moments God uses you to refine yourself as a parent, the child to assure that things will settle without the need for crazy mode, and that all really is well because He first loved us.