Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Breaking Point

Lately my kids have been pushing me to the breaking point.  

For weeks, Toddler has refused to go to sleep until at least 9:00 pm, yet she still wakes up several times during the night, and by 6:00 am the next morning.

I’m tired.

Preschooler is highly sensitive to her sister’s feelings.  When Toddler cries about something (which is every day, terrible twos and all), Preschooler will start crying and screaming until she is more upset than her sister.  If you try to get her to explain why she’s upset, she’ll just choke out, “I. Don’t. Like. It. When. Toddler. Cries!!!” Then Toddler will cry even more, because her sister is so upset.  It's so incredibly frustrating and difficult to try to calm Preschooler down when she's in one of these fits, not to mention coping with Toddler's initial temper-tantrum, especially when it happens multiple times a day.

We're trying to work with Toddler by not giving in when she has a tantrum, and removing her from the situation when necessary. We’ve also worked with Preschooler on some coping mechanisms.  Everyday I remind her she can cover her ears, she can say “I don’t like this noise,”  she can go sit in her special chair with her favorite blanket, but she can’t scream.  Sometimes this works.  

Sometimes it doesn’t.

Preschooler has also taken to not listening.  Most of our conversations lately go something like this:

Preschooler: Mommy, can I build with blocks?

Me: Of course!

Preschooler: Mommy, can I build with blocks?

Me: Yes!

Preschooler: Mommy, can I build with blocks?

Me: YES! I ALREADY SAID YES!!

Preschooler: MOMMY, YOU’RE NOT LISTENING TO ME!!

Finally, the other day, I just lost it.  Toddler was only whining a little bit, when Preschooler pitched one of her volume-to-11 screaming fits. She screamed so hard her face turned beet red.  And I lost it.

“STOP IT RIGHT NOW!” I growled. “I’M SICK OF THIS. YOU GO SIT IN YOUR CHAIR RIGHT NOW UNTIL YOU CALM DOWN!”

There are no words to express the amount of guilt I felt the minute those words left my mouth.

Preschooler was still crying, except now?  Now she was crying because I yelled at her.  I could see it in her eyes.  I will never forget the way she looked so afraid and miserable at that moment.

And then I cried.  I cried because I was so frustrated.  I cried because I was so tired.  I cried because I don’t want to squelch Preschooler’s feelings.  There needs to be some balance for her between understanding that it's ok to be sad and being so in tune to the feelings of others, yet not over-reacting about every little thing.  I just don’t know how to  help Preschooler achieve that balance.  

I apologized to Preschooler.  I admitted I got angry and yelled at her, but that wasn’t ok for me to yell like that, and I was sorry.

She forgave me.  And strangely enough, she was pretty chipper the rest of the day.

I’ve been so grouchy with my kids lately.  I hate it about myself.

So I prayed.  I’m not saying this works out for every one, but this time?  It worked out for me.  For the first time in probably weeks, I woke up in a good mood.  Even though Preschooler had a potty accident first thing in the morning, I was in a good mood.  Even though Toddler was up at 5:00 am, I was in a good mood.  Even though I spent my entire shower listening to my kids fight and scream and cry over some Duplo blocks they were playing with, I was in a good mood.

And I am thankful for that.  I am thankful that today, hopefully today, I’ll be able to handle what life throws at me without being so overwhelmed by it all.  

I hope today will be a good day.

16 comments:

Joshua said...

I've been there. And it makes me want to throw up when it happens. It just builds, builds, builds and then KABLOOM! Hang in there, and make sure you get some time away, even if it's just for a few hours to go see a movie or something.

Angela@BeggingTheAnswer said...

@Joshua - very good advice, thanks :)

SarcasmInAction said...

I'm in the same boat with the non-sleeping, super crabby, tantruming two year old.
TERRIBLE twos are true with this child. She's about to drive me nuts.

Stasha said...

I am so happy to read you were happy.
I have been crabby lately because my son does not listen to anything I ask him to do. I know I am an adult and understand it is the age he is at and that all kids do it and yadda, yadda, yadda.
But a little part of me thinks he is just a tad mean because he wants to be. And for that I feel really bad.
I don't know what to say. Here is to hope there're more happy days then not. And chocolate.

Fox in the City said...

It appears that preschoolers seem to completely incapable of listening. I admit it has driven to both both yelling and tears. Hopefully knowing that you are not alone might help just a tiny bit.
((hugs))
Jenn

Lindsay Schultz said...

Maybe when all hell breaks loose, you can cover your ears and say "I don't like this noise"? Do you have a special chair and blanket for yourself?

I bet that actually could be pretty cool for Preschooler - being given the power to forgive her mom.

Lizbeth said...

Oh Lord, I'm right there with you. Some days just circle the drain from the get go and others are not so bad. I'm glad you're on the not so bad day.

Angela@BeggingTheAnswer said...

@SarcasmInAction - oh, the tantrums. God forbid things don't go her way!

@Stasha - I'll take happy days and chocolate any day of the week.

@Fox in the city - SO GLAD to know I'm not alone. I heart blogging!

@Lindsay - I DO have a chair that's "my" chair, but no blanket. No wonder I'm so upset!

@Lizbeth - me too

Betty Fokker said...

You are not alone. I called my 6 yr old a brat the other day, because she had been acting ...well, BRATTY all day and I snapped. Then she cried because I had called her a name. I felt like a shit heel.

There is NO way to be a stay at home mom and not lose it occasionally, but it always makes you feel like Mommy Dearest.

::;headdesk:::

Janie Jones said...

Don't be too hard on yourself, being a stay home mom is a really hard job, and society has created this pressure cooker mentality that you need to be perfect and give your children a fairy tale childhood, which is impossible.

All ages have their challenges, but I found the toddler to pre kindergarten years to be the worst so far. And, you have two to contend with... I feel for you! But, teaching kids emotional an physical self control is an important, difficult long haul. After all, I know grown-ups who haven't mastered that skill.

Angela@BeggingTheAnswer said...

@Betty - Spot on with the whole Mommy Dearest thing. We need to be more forgiving of ourselves.

@Janie - My own perfectionism will someday do me in. Very true about the "fairy tale" childhood we're supposed to provide; it's just not possible.

MamaMash said...

Yeah, I think when I reach that stage I'll just grab my blanket and go sit in my chair. Or, I'll throw myself on the floor and scream along with them.

I hope your day was a good day! And your weekend is even better.

Angela@BeggingTheAnswer said...

@MamaMash - thanks!

jacqui said...

I'm glad the praying helped. It always seems to work for me.

It's really hard to deal with anything stressful...especially little ones...when you're not getting enough sleep.

I hope you're having a happy weekend!

Angela@BeggingTheAnswer said...

@Jacqui - thanks, so far so good :)

Marianna Annadanna said...

Oh, you handled it perfectly. You lost your cool but you apologized and explained what happened. That's allowed. And Preschooler will be able to articulate her feelings better one day because she learns how from you. You WILL get through this stage.