Friday, February 26, 2010

The Bigger Picture: The mommy monster

Both boys had been engaged in a perpetual tantrum and whine cocktail that began around 7 a.m. and was still flowing come noon. By 12, I had already tried defusing the toddler, engaging the toddler, rocking the toddler, singing with toddler and talking with the toddler in an attempt to calm his ceaseless squawking. He tantrumed about everything from his pants button to not being able to find his left boot. And by noon, the newest tantrum began because the crust broke off of his peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Calmly, I explained it could not be fixed, though I tried to get it to stick back together with more peanut butter. He couldn't handle the disappointment of a broken sandwich and the meltdown began. I knew I needed to walk away, so I left him screaming about the sandwich in the dining room and headed for the shower explaining that as soon as he was ready to stop screaming, I'd be happy to listen again.
The little bugger followed me into the bathroom and proceeded to scream about his sandwich. And I was his captive audience as I was already showering. So by the time my shower was over and he was still screaming about his broken bread, no amount of pausing, deep breathing, prayers for patience or relaxation techniques could save a certain toddler from the events about to unfold. And much like Dr. David Banner transformed into the Incredible Hulk, I morphed into the mommy monster the moment I stepped out of the shower and grabbed a towel.
****
She thundered over to the screeching, PB&J-clutching toddler sprawled on the bathroom floor, flung him over her shoulder like he was a sack of screaming potatoes, walked forcefully to the time out chair and briskly plopped his stunned butt in said time out chair all while fuming and sure she'd turned green and everything. She barked at her 2.5 year old, who by then had stopped screaming, a flowing list of atrocities he'd committed during the day as reason for why he was sitting in that chair until the end of eternity.
"How long, mommy?" he asked, eyes wide as saucers.
"Forever!" the mommy monster bellowed.
"How many minutes is that?" he questioned.
"Five!" the mommy monster exclaimed.
Whichever, she didn't have any concept of time because the screeches from a day's worth of tantrums were still bellowing in her head.
Silence filled the house for the first time in five or so hours. The mommy monster noticed that even the baby had stopped his incessant complaining to watch the stampede to the time out chair. Suddenly, the mommy monster realized that she was standing sopping wet in a towel in the middle of the dining room next to a stunned 2.5 year old in a time-out chair. She stomped back to the bathroom and began feeling a little sheepish. The greenish hue began draining from her skin. She huffed and puffed about the tantrums as she got dressed. And then she saw her smiling baby. As she picked up the baby, she felt the strain leave her jaw.
A little voice sounded from the dining room.
"Mommy, I ready to talk nice now."
She grumbled a little and began walking back toward the time-out chair.
"Mommy, I yuv you; I want to talk now."
The irritation drained out of her body and she morphed back into, well, me again.
****
We talked for a few minutes about why the mommy monster sent him into time out. He apologized for his tantrums. I explained that I, too, was sorry for losing my temper and turning into a mean mommy.
"Will you forgive mommy?" I asked.
"Of course I forgive you!" he said.
At that, I felt silly. Oh, that I could have diffused the broken peanut butter and jelly crisis before it turned into an epic meltdown. Oh, that I could have not become the mommy monster, losing her cool and forgetting to talk to a still very little boy who was just beyond frustrated and having a hard time coping. And that she'll never again stomp angrily through the house shocking both of her little ones into silence.
Because as wonderful as it is to make a mistake and be able to seek forgiveness and model how we talk after we make a mistake, it's important to model how we learn from our mistakes.
And I pray that I can be a fast learner this time around and that mommy monster never ever returns. And that she'll be forever banned to some swamp out in the middle of the country forever and ever amen.

7 comments:

  1. I am so thankful that we start each day with a clean slate. With my children soon, with my husband, and with my Jesus. Each day is new, and His mercies are new each morning.

    Sounds like a frustrating morning, but also sounds like a warm moment between mommy and son later in the day.

    Thank you for sharing your day.

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  2. Thank goodness tomorrow is a new day! I know the mommy monster all too well, especially the past few days (as I know you've read...)

    (I almost died laughing at the point where he followed you into the shower to keep whining! I hate it when they do that ;) )

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  3. I had a mommy monster moment today too. Thankfully, my daughter also forgave me, giving me a hug. But, darn. I even did my Beth Moore study on the fruit of the Spirit this morning. I'd hate to think of what I'd have been like had I not done that!

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  4. Now that my Adorable Child is 6, we are able to talk more. He told me once that he knew how to calm down from being angry really quickly, because he knew I could do it. He knew that sad people get angry, and that it's not always about what he did, but about the last straw. And he knew that even angry people still love with all their hearts, but that love and like are two different things. He had learnt a life skill from the Mummy Monster!

    Admittedly there will still be times when anger gets both of us, but we know the love is still there, and so do your children.

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  5. My mommy monster comes out way too often. Kids really know how to push your buttons. Being a mom is really tough. Tantrums at all ages seem to happen too often. I love when I can regroup at night and plan another way to get through the potential of more tantrums the next day.

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  6. Mommy Monster is my nick name, but not it a bad way, she's Brenna Monster and we have a Paigie Bear.
    Although I'm not sure if its any consolation to you it makes me feel better knowing I'm not the only one who has struggled with this.
    And how I loathe the days when nothing else works.
    You're a wonderful Mommy and a great Friend!

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  7. Mommy Monsters are har to hide sometimes, just remember that every day is a new day - monsters or not ;)

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There's nothing better than good conversation ... but not while talking to myself. Will you play a part in this discussion?

AND will you pretty please have your email linked to your account or leave it for me so I can respond?

Thanks for taking the time to make these thoughts into conversation.

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