Temper Tantrums: Not just for kids

Today was one of those days when a cage in the backyard seemed like a good idea. The question is, who would have been more appropriate to lock in: my daughter, or myself?

Sweet Pea did NOT earn her nickname today. The tantrums started when we attempted to take her to Sunday school. She refused to let go of her daddy, or me. I stayed with her during music time, trying to get her to engage. And then she panicked when it was time to go down to the room. (Determined she isn’t ready for Sunday school. That’s okay.)

The day just went downhill from there. It became obvious that her clingy behavior and bad attitude was because she hadn’t had a bowel movement in a while, but every time we put her on the toilet, she fights like a tiger instead of relaxes. I even tried to let her watch a show on my iPod while she was sitting there, to no avail. She just won’t have anything of it. In between attempts, she wouldn’t listen, was argumentative and particular, and threw several fits. Finally, I saw the signs that a BM was imminent, and managed to get her on the potty and hold her there (against her wishes) while also hugging her and trying to be reassuring, and the poop came out. Usually, that is enough for her behavior to drastically improve, but today, it just seemed to get worse, and we had more meltdowns than I care to count.

Unfortunately – and this is the hardest part – Mommy melted down several times, too. I remember feeling, sometime around age 11 or 12, like I’d finally mastered my temper, and that it didn’t rear its ugly red head very often any more. That monster has apparently been sleeping for the last 20 years, lying in wait for me to have a daughter that pushes my buttons. I’m not proud of it, but I yelled and I threatened, and I threw away her backpack. I didn’t hurt her and I wouldn’t hurt her. But I certainly didn’t like her today and was ready to put her in a box and ship her to Siberia.

I don’t want my daughter to fear me or pick up my bad habits. I’ve already seen how my less than stellar behavior becomes hers. Yet, whether intentional or not, she wore me and my patience down beyond the place where I had any left. And I feel like a terrible mother, one that shouldn’t be allowed to bring home this new little life inside me. With Sweet Pea, I felt like I was bringing her into a loving stable home. And I did: my husband and I just celebrated 10 years of marriage, friendship and partnership. But Sweet Pea’s presence has shaken up my stability – not with my husband but within myself.

I pray it will get better rather than worse when I actually have the opportunity to set some real routines with her, and maybe get to know her better. Sometimes I feel like my daughter is a stranger since she spends so much of her weekdays with someone else. And maybe I’ll have a better chance to reach inside of myself and find the storehouse of patience I think is there.

I know I’m not the only mom who’s lost it, and I know I’m not the worst mom ever to walk the earth. I’m totally with claretaylor15 when she posts about her own temper tantrum.

So Moms and Dads, how to do you calm yourself when you’re ready to blow?

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My child won’t play!

English: A German Shepherd waiting for someone...

English: A German Shepherd waiting for someone to play with him. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay folks, I’d love your take on this one. My kid doesn’t play. She’s sweet (much of the time) and bright, but she is ALWAYS under foot. She knows where her toys are, but she would rather watch what I’m doing and “help.” Which is okay. Sometimes.

Sometimes, I just need her to go play. Build with blocks. Color on her easel. Dress her dolly. Heck, bang on pots and pans! But she won’t play unless we’re there with her, either as an engaged audience (and I do mean engaged…no zoning out in a book) or active participants.

I chatted with her daycare provider, who said the same thing.

“I have to push her to go play.”

That said, we put her to bed for a nap rather early today, and I went into a room, closed the door and painted walls. I could tell within the first half hour that she wasn’t sleeping, but I wasn’t about to come out, covered in paint and only 1/3 done with my wall. So I ignored the sounds I heard.

Today’s mess wasn’t quite this bad.

After two hours, I opened the door to her room, and she was happily playing on the floor!  For two hours! By herself! In her room! (Of course, she’d dug out three drawers’ worth of toys and doll clothes, but that is fixable.) The second I opened the door, all playing stopped, and it was back to being my little follower.

So, how can I get my child to play like that once in a while when she is NOT supposed to be napping? Any ideas?

I can’t just disappear all the time…my house isn’t that big!

I may be crazy…

And if I’m not right at this moment, I may be in the relatively near future. Is any mother really sane?

For the record, I’m a bit of a workaholic. I set pretty strong boundaries between work and home, but when I’m at work, I work. I work hard. And I feel strong attachments to the people I work with, and derive great pride in doing my job, doing it well, and finishing what I start.

Me, the workaholic. “Scary Efficient” my husband said.

I’m leaving that world in the coming months. My second child is due in early December, and I’ve made the harrowing decision to stay home with my kids. I’m terribly excited, and terribly scared. If my decision were based solely on temperament, my husband would be the stay-at-home parent. He keeps his cool when I lose mine. He finds natural ways to teach our daughter during play. He doesn’t mind being an observer, or relatively inactive, while I’m a doer. I crave doing.

But my decision isn’t based solely on temperament, and is instead based on so many factors that I choose not to list at this time. And because my decision is not based solely on temperament and I recognize that my temperament is perhaps not ideal to be a SAHM, I’m using this blog as forum to vent, to document this experiment in parental psychology, and to explore strategies for helping me create a fulfilling life as a parent.

I want this for my kids. And I want this for me, even if I don’t quite know what that means yet. (I’m getting choked up just typing this!)

So SAH parents, and especially former workaholics like me, I’m counting on all of you to help me figure this out!