Lately, he's been having episodes where he melts onto the floor in a sopping pile of tears and frustration.
The ground has been moving more and more underneath my feet leaving me unsteady and thrown. These little earthquakes -- my 2.5 year old's moments of complete and utter distress -- have been becoming noticeably stronger. And they've been rattling my nerves, making me quesy, leaving me shaken. But we had been getting by with only a few little cracks in the walls.
Until this week. His little temblors exploded into a much bigger earthquake. He shook me to my very core when he looked me straight in the eye and bellowed, "I no like you, mommy. I no like you!" after I dished out a minor punishment for a major infraction of hitting his brother.
As he yelled, his frustration gushing into gigantic waves of hysteria, my heart cried and a voice in the back of my head began to whisper, began to question.
Is it me? Is it the way I've mommied? Did we bring another baby into the family too soon? Am I giving him enough attention? Didn't I teach him how we treat each other? Don't I model love and kindness enough? I know I've done a million things wrong -- yelled, threatened, groaned, swatted hands. But haven't I done a million things right? Haven't I shown him love and respect and ... oh, where do I go from here?
An entire building -- 2.5 years in the making -- completely rocked.
Yes, we've since made up. And he's told me he loves me since then. Yes, I know he was angry and hurt and frustrated. And, yes, I know he is a toddler who wears his enormous heart on a tiny sleeve.
But I keep finding myself off balance, unable to release the tension brought about by those angry words. And the aftershocks keep coming -- the afternoon meltdowns, the direct defiance, the intentional meanness -- adding more stress to an already stressed structure. Where is it coming from? What have I done? I can't help but to wonder, oh, do I wonder if I've somehow just totally blown this whole mommy thing. If I've just unknowingly ruined my precious first born somehow along the way.
But I have to stop.
I have to stop with the what ifs and the whys and the second guessing and the self doubt because they are crumbling the foundations of this house. These self accusations and guilt-ridden rhetorical questions are creating more structural damage than all of the earthquakes combined.
I have to rebuild.
I have to repair.
I have put down deeper roots in this unsteady ground.
And I have to stand firm.
Because there's no room for crumbling buildings in earthquake country.