Hoo-boy. If you're like me, you put a lot of effort into keeping it together for your kiddos. You know how important it is for their environment to be peaceful, predictable, emotion-neutral. You know how hard it is for them to trust and share and believe that you really want to know what's on their mind, and you strive to never show your worry and frustration and oh-my-gosh-will-you-just-get-to-the-POINT of it all. Support is your life. And so you push down your unproductive and emotional reactions, tamping them down like gunpowder, until some tiny and unpredictable spark makes it all go BOOM.
You can competently analyze all the reasons your child has a tantrum and all the ways to defuse one, but when you're the one out of control, it's hard to deny how good it feels to not care for a little bit, to say all those things you've been biting your tongue about, to lash out in all those ways you've held back from. Afterward, of course, when you're having to pick up the pieces and start all over, it doesn't feel so good at all.
I had one of those blow-ups over the weekend, and said stuff to my kids I know I'm going to pay for -- in the way they won't tell me things because they don't want to upset me, in the way they lose a little confidence in my abilities, in the way they believe every thing I didn't mean and deflect every thing I do. Dang. I know better. Knowing better is my thing.
In the aftermath of my own misbehavior, I wrote up a list of ten ways to give yourself a temper tantrum based on the way these flip-outs sneak up on me and maybe you too. Have you had a mommy meltdown lately? Commiserate with me in the comments. And if you've found some good ways to deal with your special-needs stress, share them on the Readers Respond page.
Illustration by Terri Mauro