Oh the screams and the cries today. The hitting, kicking and not listening. The “horrible twos” we all hear about rear their ugly head every so often and it’s brutal. If I’m consistent in my expectation and discipline accordingly it only gets worse before it gets better. But I also know that if I don’t do that we will have far more of these days then if I do. It’s hard, and I lose my cool at times. My daughter reminds me that it’s not nice to yell, and that it’s not nice to hit (when I swat her hand down from hitting my face)…yes Mama was faster!
Toys get taken away, privileges get removed, etc. I remind her of ways to calm down, I offer hugs, but it doesn’t help on days like today. There aren’t often natural consequences that I can employ, and end up disciplining in ways that I don’t fully like, but they are my only option at the time. Sometimes I try to ignore the tantrum. Sometimes I try offering help. At times I end up putting her in her room for some chill time for both of us. Nothing stops the screaming, though. She’s strong willed for sure. Most times I am so patient with her, but some days like today it just doesn’t happen the way I want it to. I end up feeling like such a failure on these days. Until I also see the hard work shine through…like it did today.
The first 25 minute fit had finally ended. We’d hugged it out, said our sorry’s and sat down to lunch. My daughter looked at me and said “Mama, will you hold my hand?”. I was thrilled to hold her hand, of course. Then she looked at me as we held hands and said “I’m sorry we both got upset today. I don’t know why it even happened. I’m sorry, Mama”. I apologized again as well and thanked her for such a heartfelt apology while I fought back tears. And I knew where she’d gotten the idea to apologize like that. I heard my own words from previous days like this, and I was so proud of her.
You see, on days like today when I feel like I needed to do better, and when I feel like I didn’t make the perfect most patient choices in the moment, I go to my daughter and admit my mistakes. I promise to get better and work on my reactions. I tell her that I am sorry and what I should have done differently. I take the time to apologize to her because it’s the right thing to do.
There was another 10 minute screaming fit that happened shortly after she’d said her kind apology to me at the lunch table. The day isn’t over yet, and on days like this, these fits happen ALL day long. Maybe it’s hunger, or she’s not feeling well, or tired… who knows. But when these days happen, they certainly happen with a bang.
I took her up for her nap and tried to calm her down. As she sat on the potty before her nap the fit continued and she scratched my face and went in for another hit across my cheek. I swatted her hand down and she looked at me in horror. She screamed “MAMA don’t hit me! That hurt!”. I knew it didn’t hurt, I’d hardly touched her, but it made me feel so small. I know I didn’t actually hit my daughter, I know I didn’t do anything wrong just now when I swatted her hand away from my face- but it obviously wasn’t the perfect reaction either, and my daughter knew it. I felt so terrible.
I put her down for her nap because I knew at this point she was getting overtired. I calmed her down and gave her hugs and kisses. I left the room and my stomach sank. I felt like a terrible mother as I stood I the hallway. I’d yelled at my little girl today- my 2.5 year old. I’d not shown the patience that I wanted to. I’d created power struggles that didn’t need to be there, and now my daughter thinks I hit her. I was a mess, and I knew what I needed to do.
I opened the door to my daughter’s room, and crawled in bed with her. I held her. As I held her I apologized for all of my wrong doings today. I apologized for not being more patient, for getting upset, for yelling, and for swatting her hand. When I was done, she looked at me and said “You came back to hold me. Thank you, Mama.” She smiled so big. She again told me that she was sorry for getting so upset, for not listening to me, and for hitting me. She told me she didn’t know why it all happened.
I thought back to the first moment… it was because of a piece of bread. She was helping with lunch and putting the cheese on our grilled cheese sandwiches. I was holding the bread for her as she did this. She had insisted that she hold the bread. I said no, that we were going to work together and each help. She could do the cheese, and I’d do the bread. Instead of saying ok, she’d grabbed the bread from my hands and yelled. As a result, I’d taken it away and ended up doing the cheese myself since she wasn’t listening. So trivial and yet it turned into something SO big. 25 minutes of screaming was all because of a piece of bread.
I reminded her of what had started everything and caused her to get upset initially. Her response was “Sorry I didn’t listen Mama. I’m not upset anymore. Are you, Mama?”. “No my sweet girl, no I’m not. I’ll never stay upset at you. I promise”.
As I left her room, the tears started again (for me). She drifted quietly to sleep and was happy. But I was not. I still felt like a failure, although less of one now that I’d apologized and had a sweet moment with my daughter. I called my mom. I knew she’d be able to help and at the very least distract me. She knew by the sound of my voice that I wasn’t having a good day. We talked, and I cried. She reminded me that she’d had moments like this when we were little and she told me not to beat myself up over it. She knew the heartache that comes after you blow up at your 2 year old and feel as though you needed to be so much more patient. She knew exactly how I was feeling. And she also knew that these things don’t get talked about.
We talk about them only to those so close to us, but as a society we don’t admit to these moments and support one another. She knew how isolating that can feel. And I knew immediately that I needed to write this blog. Maybe there are moms out there that never lose their cool, never yell, never have a lack of patience… but I think they are few and far between. Most of us will have days like this and there is no reason we shouldn’t be talking to one another and supporting one another through them. We don’t have to do this alone. We can support each other, we can learn from our mistakes, we can get stronger, we can apologize to our children and set a good example, and we can be and ARE still good mamas even when we have days like this. We are all flawed, and we are all doing our best.
Today my daughter showed me how stubborn and strong willed she really can be- just like her Mama. She also showed me how compassionate and understanding she can be- just like her Mama. Don’t forget, if we take credit for the hard parts, we also get to take credit for the good.
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