ast week, I broke down. As my children watched me while sitting on the stairs, I had a mommy tantrum. A complete and utter meltdown. I was crying in desperation, pleading them to cooperate, and feeling bad that I lost it in front of them, all at the same time. The kids became silent, absorbing what they were witnessing, trying to process what this meant, and figuring out how to respond. I emerged from my tantrum feeling slightly better and a bit embarrassed. I imagine that’s how my kids feel when they lose it too.
As I sit here, reflecting on my behavior last week, I am torn between acceptance and denunciation of this behavior. Toddler tantrums are largely seen as bad and they indicate a child who is unable to handle their emotions in a mature and reasonable manner. We tell toddlers who experience tantrums to take a deep breath, or many deep breaths, to remain calm, to think and to react only after you have taken these measures. I get it and largely agree with that. But what happens when this happens to you? When you are the one throwing the tantrum in front of your children?
I swear that I had been using all different coping mechanisms to get me through the week before my tantrum. But by the time this moment came around, I had been solo-parenting for days; I lacked sleep, I was overwhelmed at work, the children started to bicker with one another relentlessly, and they stopped listening to me altogether. Screaming and yelling didn’t seem to get them to listen. So I literally started crying and melting down because I didn’t know what else to do. I was alone, at my wits end and had had enough. And I was late for work.
I know I am making excuses to explain my behavior and making it acceptable in my mind. But, in the moments and days after this mommy tantrum, the kids were nicer, kinder and helpful. Perhaps they saw me as a human being and not their always-right, controlling mother. Perhaps they started to see me as somebody who was fallible, who makes mistakes and who has emotions. Perhaps they could relate to me more because I had shown them that their behavior does affect me negatively. And perhaps they felt bad to have sent me over the edge. Regardless of the reasons why, after this mommy tantrum, we seemed to hit a groove, the three of us. We were the 3 musketeers, fighting together to make it through the day, resolving to help one another instead of bringing each other down and accepting of one another’s mistakes in stride.
Truth be told, this lasted for all of about a few days, and then we were back to our usual ways, but maybe having a mommy tantrum once in a blue moon (not all the time) is a good thing for the kids. Or, I am simply trying to make myself feel better for my deplorable behavior. Regardless, today ends my solo-parenting stint for a while and I couldn’t be happier. I only hope the next time I’m faced with these feelings and emotions, my mommy tantrum is even more effective and a tad bit prettier. I am kidding, but you get the point.