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?

Scared stiff AND at peace. How can this be?

I was having a conversation with hubby the other day about my decision to become a stay at home mom once Baby Number 2 arrives. I came to a stunning conclusion: I’m both terrified and completely at peace with my decision.

I’m terrified, because I could have quite a few days like yesterday, when my three-year-old screamed at me for 10 minutes because I carried her into the kitchen, wrapped a blanket around her, and then set her down, when what she wanted was for me to wrap the blanket around her and then carry her to the kitchen. And then screamed at me because she didn’t want to go potty. And then screamed at me because she didn’t get to watch TV. (There were probably a few more episodes of her screaming at me, but frankly, they all start to run together after a bit.) The power struggles right now are enough to make me want to pack her in a crate and ship her to grandma’s until she’s 20.

And yet, my decision to leave my job and be home has me completely at peace. I’m standing on the edge of the great unknown, and normally at moments like this I feel total anxiety and super stressed out. I know I did as I prepared to have Baby Number 1. There was so much to do to prepare, and so much unknown.

It’s strange: I have just as much to prepare for this baby, though very different things, as I did for the first. I have to finish preparing the baby’s room, create a transition plan at work, figure out how I’m going to structure my time at home so I don’t go crazy, and plan for entertaining a three-year old with a newborn in the picture. And yet…

I feel like I’m in the driver’s seat for the very first time. My job isn’t going to dictate my time. I can reinvent myself (with the Masters Degree that I just finished) into the parent and independent freelancer/part time worker that I want to be. I don’t know what that means yet. The world is an unpredictable place and this new me is nebulous at best. And I’m totally okay with that.

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!