As part of Mama Kat’s Weekly Writers Workshop I picked the writing prompt “The One Thing I Learned This Month” There is still time to join the fun.
As a seasoned mom, you would think I would have this under my belt. I have raised almost all of my eight children into adulthood. However, when my sweet Little Miss Toddler (Grandchild of whom I have custody) started throwing tantrums this month I was in shock. I was horrified. I was mortified. So sad and left wondering what on earth did I do here? She went from smiles and tea parties to something that resembled a cat being thrown into a pool and add in tail biting piranha.
Then comes the phone call with my own mother. Here is little Miss Toddler building up to what I can see is a tantrum bubbling up and boiling over. She, of course, wanted to “wash her hands” Well there was no real need and she simply wanted to splash in the sink and turn my kitchen into a pool so I said those dreaded words. Not Right Now…
There it was a full-blown tantrum. Including Ear piercing, earth shattering, mind crippling screams of what surely sounded like a child who was being harmed in some hideous way. Then there was the rolling about on the floor like the Tasmanian Devil.
My mother, simply being my mother was baffled. When did this start? Why is she doing that? YOU never did this… Mind you the poor woman has forgotten most of my childhood but, she remembers me being a calm little angel. A young outstanding citizen of toddlerhood. Yes, I set the bar very high as a two-year-old. How I curse my toddler days of good manners and calmness. How wonderful that I was so well-behaved. I was most defiantly the prodigy of two-year-old good etiquette. “She is two Ma, a toddler. They have tantrums. She is fine Ma, she is normal.” Those are all the things I said to her. Then I quickly hung up. One, because I was feeling rather defensive, hurt, and my ego took a pretty good hit. Two because whatever she was saying on the other end of the phone I could no longer hear over Little Miss Toddlers howls about hand washing.
So as I set the phone down I ran to Dr. Google of course. What were other moms saying? Am I messing something up… Yep, yep, yep Dr. Google says this is normal. I felt better for a moment. Then I wondered what if all those moms are just messing up too? What if they are just justifying their horrible mistakes so other screw ups like me can feel better. Ugg!
Little Miss Toddler was still screaming, still rolling about still throwing this horrible tantrum. Then… It stopped.
She crawled up into my lap and looked into my tired eyes and hugged me tightly. She said she was sorry. She meant it and then she fell fast to sleep. As I sat holding her and watching her sweet angelic face fall deeper into slumber.
I had a revelation. I wasn’t messing up. She was simply tired. Just like all the other children I had raised at that age she had thoughts, ideas, feelings and needs they maybe just can not put into words. Just like myself when I have grumpy moments or days because I am no longer that sweet little harmonious toddler *Insert sarcasm*. I was not messing up and she certainly is not flawed. She is simply growing, learning and testing boundaries. She and I are…get this… You ready? Normal.
What I learned was. It is okay. I am not messing up. A tantrum is simply a small child’s way of handling overload, of letting off steam. I ignore tantrums and keep her safe. I speak to her calmly when she is done. I give hugs, and love and second chances, even fifth and tenth if need be. I keep loving her even when her moment is not good. I set boundaries and she keeps testing them. We are both doing a wonderful job. and You know what… So are you. We are doing a wonderful job raising these little humans.
I learned that other people’s well-intended comments even if they are your own mothers really do not add up to much. I am sure we all like to think we did a bang-up job and our little would never have dared to create such a performance but, I assure you as a child I did as did you. I guess it is sort of like labor we all know it was not easy but, we quickly forget how it really was. We forget details and want to remember the best parts. So forget all the comments, let go of well-meaning but, not so great advice. Because like it or not…
Tantrums are normal.