We have LOTS of meltdowns.
If you’re a mama of toddlers, then you probably know all-too-well the dreaded meltdown.
Falling on the floor.
Inconsolable, uncontrollable meltdowns.
Oh mama friends, I can sympathize. I have dealt with my fair share. Sometimes I can see them coming a mile away. Sometimes they knock my feet out from under me.
Always they make me want to run and hide in a hole until it’s over.
Meltdowns are never convenient or quiet. They are loud. They scream:
“Look at me, this mom over here that can’t keep her kids under control and make them behave like civilized humans! Yes, look at me and scoff. Roll your eyes at my child laying on the floor, screaming like a banshee and condemn me for not reading ‘The Strong Willed Child’ yet. Whisper to your friends how you would never let your child act like that in public. Ask yourself why in the world I have three children when I can’t control one. I’m just going to stand here and bribe my child with candy and hope they’ll stop, or wait until child protective services arrives and saves the day.”
Oh yes, meltdowns are inevitable in the muck and mire of toddlerhood. They happen. We deal. Life goes on. Do we like them? Heck no. But we learn quickly that we cannot make our children do that which they do not want to do, contrary to my pre-parenting self’s belief that I could [and would].
I have become dear frenemies with the meltdown. They are embarrassing, frustrating and pull-your-hair-out hard. It’s 10:15 am and we’ve already had 3 this morning.
#1- Child C won’t come inside the school because he is watching a squirrel climb a tree. After much calling him to come, I say the typical “Ok, bye!” suggesting I am going inside without him, not taking into consideration that Child C deals with abandonment issues, which sends him into a full-fledged meltdown in the parking lot.
#2- Child C is asking for snacks when he just had breakfast 30 minutes ago. Ok, so maybe half of it ended up on the floor, but whatever. I told him he had to wait, which was apparently unacceptable to him. Meltdown city.
#3- Child B is also asking for snacks when she still has uneaten yogurt sitting on the table. I tell her no, which leads to screaming and falling on the floor in protest. She then hides from me and I have to drag her out of her hiding place to class.
(As I type this, I am wondering why in the world I am sharing this since obviously I have ZERO parental control over my children this morning and you’re probably wondering how we are all still alive and functioning. Frankly, I wonder the same thing myself. Go ahead, judge me.)
As nerve-rattling as meltdowns can be, I am also learning to cope with the benefits of them.
*GASP* Are you implying there might be benefits to meltdowns? Blasphemy!
Before you mamas stone me to death, hear me out. See, I have a little confession to make. It’s not pretty, and you probably won’t like it so if you want to keep you’re nice little picture of who you think I am in your head, go ahead and stop reading now. Otherwise, here it is:
Sometimes, I need to have a meltdown too.
I had one such meltdown last night. I won’t go into the snotty-tissue, puffy-eyed details, but let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. My poor, sweet husband was an innocent bystander and he tried his best to calm me down, but I just needed to get it all out. I don’t even really know what set it off. But once the dam broke, it just all rushed to the surface.
As adults, we learn to cope. We figure out how to deal with stress, uncertainties, trials, and just-life-in-general. We can play the “every thing’s fine” card quite well, and never let on about the chaos that is ensuing inside our brains. But eventually, something trips the trigger and it spills out. It may look different for each of us, but we.melt.down. And surprisingly, when it’s over, we feel better.
As parents, we look at the little humans we’re raising who have daily meltdowns and wonder why they can’t get their act together. *Side note: If you are raising toddlers and you don’t have daily meltdowns, please stop reading and go write your own blog already. You disgust me. We don’t get why some days it takes nothing at all to set them off. (At our house, usually it’s socks. Don’t ask.) We get upset, even angry at them for releasing that pent-up energy through the meltdowns. But in the aftermath of it, what we often don’t see is when they’re done, they feel better too.
Our kids are soaking in SO much each day. Their little brains are capable of receiving incredible amounts of information. And sometimes usually they don’t always know how to process it. So what happens? Restless energy and emotion build up and they haven’t learned yet how to cope with it so it all just spills over like red kool-aid on white carpet- completely messy and obvious to everyone in the room . But for them, it’s a necessary release. Once they’ve had their meltdown, they happily move on, while we’re left frazzled and grasping for chocolate or some other edible coping mechanism.
I love my littles to the end of the world and back. I love their tender hearts and the emotions they wear on their sleeves. I love that they are so quick to express their love and affection. I love how their joy is contagious and their excitement is all-consuming. But those great big emotions don’t just come in the feel-good variety. It’s all or nothin’ with these people.
Last night after my own meltdown, I took a deep breath and realized that usually for me, at the core of my darkest moments is the [lie] that I am alone. No one gets it. No one else understands. But Jesus pulled me close and reminded me that He’s there. He does. He knows.
I think that when those inconvenient meltdown moments arise with our children, instead of yelling at them, telling them to stop it, or threatening them with their lives (not saying I do that…not saying I don’t) perhaps we should try coming in closer. Pulling them in. Being there. Reminding them that they aren’t alone. That no matter what they’re feeling, they are loved. That we get it [even if we don’t].
Chances are, if we embrace these meltdowns for what they are, our kiddos won’t be the only ones walking away feeling better. Just maybe, we will too.