Friday, March 12, 2010

Everyday Life: Little earthquakes

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.


  1. Since I'm only about a year ahead of you on this let me offer the advise my sister gives me:

    These feelings are not from God! You are a good mommy and as much as we want to give in and say yes, they need boundaries.

    We will survive!

  2. I think we need to be less like buildings and more like plants. Deeply rooted in the love we know is there and able to weather a hurricane or an earthquake with a flexiblity that might hide the pain of the hurt.

    And afterall, they do outgrow 2.5 and the earth starts to quiet.

    Good luck!

  3. I no like you.

    That's ok. I have days I no like me neither. I have days I no like lotsa people. I have days I no like life.

    He didn't say, "I HATE YOU MOMMA!" or "I WISH YOU DIED!" or anything like that.

    Parenting wise, you're doing ok. He knows how to express his feelings of frustration at a young age. What matters now is your response to them. I have found a persistent "That's ok, I love you enough for both of us! Come and hug me when you're ready" to be effective as it reassures him and leaves communication open. As he got older I moved into "I love you, but I don't like what you just did, so this is what is going to happen."

    Big prayers.

  4. Whaaaahahahahahahaha! Welcome to motherhood. :)

    You do remember the phrase terrible 2s, right? Although no one mentions the fact that 3 is worse than 2. Fortunately, 4 gets much better. Mostly.

    You're doing fine as a mommy, and he knows that. He's probably just trying to rattle you to get you to back down and see if you really mean it. It's all good.

    And if you want some GREAT parenting advice, go check out Building a Resilient Child by Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg. I LOVE this book.

  5. You're a wonderful mommy. I just went through a bunch of tremors here with my guys. It's tough trying to work with kids day in and day out. They go through so many emotional upheavals. It's a very bumpy ride some days. I've got lots of attitude coming my way. Enjoy the little guys. The big ones have their own headaches to share :)

  6. @Rose, you are absolutely, 100 percent right. They are not from God. Hence, one more reason I just have to stop! Love you, lady!

    @Luther Liz, ahhhh, your words speak to me tonight. It's so true. We need to be like plants with deep roots. Once again, the comments here are the best part about this post!

    @s'me, my goodness, thank you for that outside view of the situation. You know, you are right; he can express himself. And, you know, you're right. Some days I no like me either. lol. And he can and should know that some days we don't always like everything and thing. But we always love each other. You are brilliant, mama!

    @Michelle, what do you mean three is worse!? lol. I've heard that, but, dang, does it have to be true?

    @September..., Thank you; it is a bumpy ride, and I do know that you understand without a doubt. I love this age, but some days he just really gives my heart good stretching.


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