Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tantrums aren't just for toddlers

When kids have temper tantrums, it's fairly straight forward. They want something. They can't have it. So, they get angry and vocally express this frustration (right in the middle of the grocery store, the restaurant, the airport, or any other location that allows dozens of other strangers to stare at the outburst). When adults have temper tantrums, it's a bit more complex.

This weekend, I definitely had a good old-fashioned tantrum. Although adults typically refer to them with more eloquent terms like "breakdown," they're really just tantrums. I didn't realize how stressed out I was until it came out in a way that made me wish I was pregnant again and could blame hormones (I can still have hormonal imbalances 11 weeks after giving birth, right? Right?). So what wasn't I getting that I was upset about? That's the tricky thing... I didn't even know.

The great thing about being a kid is that emotions aren't complex. They don't need entire books in the psychology section of Barnes & Noble to explain why you're feeling a certain way and how to deal with it. And kids are pretty in tune with how they feel. Adults ignore, deny or don't even realize they're feeling certain things. Until it comes out in typical tantrum form.

Sure, it was a stressful weekend for me. Brayden wasn't sleeping very well, which is frustrating in itself. Add that to the subsequent lack of sleep, the million things I was trying to figure out about an upcoming trip, a messy house, a plethora of projects I had taken on that I was trying to finish, and a trip the vet, and no one would blame me for my molecular meltdown. But it wasn't any of those things. My breakdown happened while fielding phone calls about the trip, trying to make dinner (manning four burners on a way-too-complex meal) and listening to a screaming baby. Still... it was one of those reactions that was so overly-extreme for the circumstances that you know there's something else going on.

So what WAS going on?

Lauren always said that if he suddenly got to stop working, it would be awesome. At first. And then a few weeks later, he would get bored. I stopped working three months ago. And I haven't gotten bored. And you know, I never will. I think some of the inherent difficulties of being a stay-at-home-mom hit me all at once this weekend. Or maybe they all hit me at the same time and made them impossible to ignore. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love staying home with Brayden. But I didn't realize how hard it would be. It's the constant interruptions (rarely do I have even 45 minutes of uninterrupted time during the day), being tethered to a (adorable) baby (which leaves me unable to do simple things like jogging or making it to a yoga class held at a non-negotiable time), and just generally always having things things to do (how many loads of laundry am I up to this week??).

Just doing what "needs" to get done would take up the majority of my time. But come on, I'm me. So that means that I add in a bunch of other stuff that doesn't "need" to get done. Like everything else in life, if I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it right. Being a parent is similar to being a teacher - it will take up as much time as you let it. I'm the master at finding new projects and games and awesome things to do for other people. The consequence is that there's just no time for me.

Lauren used to always yell at me for not putting myself first (sorry, it's just my nature to focus on making others happy). But he recently told me that even if I'm not first - or fourth - on my list, I need to at least be ON it. So that was my breakdown - not being on my own list. And you know, I readily admit that it was all self-induced. Did I need to make an awesome ABC book for Brayden on Shutterfly full of adorable pictures of him and cute rhymes? Nope. But I'm glad I did because it's going to be such a special possession of his. And therein lies my problem. I always want to do things for other people. And now that I have a son, I would spend 24 hours a day doing things for him if I could. And as much as I might WANT to spend all my time on other people, I just can't. I really do need a little time for myself where I can just be me and do something that rejuvenates me... something just for me and no one else.

So there it is. My long-winded "Eureka" moment. I've realized the importance of carving out a little time for Mommy. But how the heck can I manage to do that? It's difficult for me to even get a short yoga session in at home since I don't have a reliable time every day. And it's equally hard for me to choose to get away and do something for me when I could be spending it with (or on) my family. Honestly... I'd love to do it. I'm just not quite sure how I can accomplish this seemingly impossible feat. How do I make the time? And how can I make sure I spend the time on myself?

I suppose it's a start that I've figured out why I had a three-year-old's temper tantrum this weekend. Now if it were only as easy to solve as getting my mother to let me buy that piece of candy at the grocery store.


  1. I realized Brayden must be sleeping at around 10:30 this morning when you posted 10,000 pictures of the little guy on Facebook. This was abruptly followed by status emails about the upcoming trip, etc.

    ...keep working on that mommy time. You deserve it.

  2. This is a very tough thing to get used to, made even tougher when you have a "non-sleeper". I must admit, it was a relief in some ways to go back to work when Lauren was 8 weeks old because I got time to myself, even if it was only in the car. Every moment when I was home was devoted to Lauren & Carl, but worktime allowed me moments for myself.
    It is not a crime to get a babysitter, even for just 1 or 2 hours. It also is not a crime to hand Brayden to Lauren and say, "I'll be back after I've done X. Don't worry, you'll be fine."
    There is a light at the end of the tunnel. It won't be long before Brayden's schedule gets a little more stabilized and he can entertain himself for awhile.
    Until then, give yourself a break. Brayden already believes you're the perfect mom (no matter what you or anybody else may think), and that's all that really matters. Even if you take some time for yourself, he will be thrilled when you are back and will continue to believe that his mom is the best in the world. And how could he be wrong? :-)