Aren't our intentions in motherhood always to do our best, to keep our cool, to try to be fair and respond without emotion? Don't we begin each day with the unspoken prayer that we desire to take on this day with a positive attitude and a grace-filled heart? Do we not realize that God has forgiven us as His children, for all our misbehaviors, misdemeanors, disobedience, and disrespect and that we can and should do the same for our children as well? Of course we do, but such is life. In the heat of the moment, those good intentions go flying out the window!
I just got a copy in the mail of a wonderful book entitled, The Mother of All Meltdowns. It is a book written by mom bloggers, who confess their moments of complete loss of control. We've all been there, haven't we? We've all had experiences where we just couldn't take it anymore and we became temporarily, certifiably crazy over something. The proverbial straw broke the camels back and things got ugly! More often than not, that something that drove us over the edge was probably not all that big a deal but we lost it...and it wasn't pretty.
One of my favorite phrases for moments like these was: "This is not a proud moment for the Van De Water family!" It often involved screaming, likely some crying, possibly some throwing of objects, probably some slamming of doors. It left chaos in its wake and hurt feelings in its path. It sometimes took hours to recover...and many gallons of gas!
If we are honest with ourselves, and each other, we would realize that it happens...to everybody. There are just some times when you reach your limit of patience, endurance, negotiation, calm, or compassion and something snaps. We've seen it out in public, we've seen it behind closed doors...and yet, very few people care to admit to their imperfections.
Especially we moms feel like we have an image to uphold. So often, we do our best to give the appearance that we have it all together and that there is nothing that can ruffle Mama Duck's feathers. Yet, if someone were caring to look beneath the surface of the water, they'd see our feet paddling furiously beneath the surface in an effort to keep up with the other momma ducks on our pond. Why is it so?
We women need to say it like it is...confess that we are perhaps inexperienced, lacking in knowledge, exhausted, scared, frustrated, jealous, intimidated, suffering from feelings of inadequacy, discouraged, you name it: any or all of the above! These feelings come with the new territory. It's what happens when we suddenly find ourselves in a new role where there are no directions, no subs, no GPS! It is critical that we learn to reach out, find out, and get out!
Reaching out is simply admitting that we don't know everything and can't do it all, and asking for help; from our husbands, from our family, from our neighbors, from the sweet little older woman down the street, from a mentor we admire, from our church friends or community groups. There are places to seek assistance...don't be afraid! It is not a sign of failure.
Finding out means doing some research...it's so amazingly accessible these days with Smartphones and internet. See what people are saying, go to reliable sources, ask questions about parenting and get answers. There are ways to feel knowledgeable and in control. Don't wait for a crisis to learn what you need to know and do. There are ways to ward off the meltdowns, but you have to plan for them and prepare ahead of time.
Getting out means giving yourself some time away from the kids. Do whatever it takes to get out of the house, either on your own or with a girlfriend! Make sure you are planning some dates with your husband too...your marriage should be a primary concern for you, especially after your kids are all over age two! It's time for both of you to start shifting your focus back onto your spouse.
Don't wait until the meltdown happens to take a look at your emotional self. Have you had a break? Are you refreshed or stretched to the max? Do you feel ready to start a new week or exhausted still from the week before? Did the weekend offer you a time of rejuvenation or two days of exasperation? Manage the meltdowns before they happen and home will be a happier, healthier place for everyone, especially Mom!