A few weeks ago, the words “I want to break up with him” came to mind about my relationship with my oldest boy. It was the first time that happened since I became a mother 5 years ago.
This will not be easy to write about because I will be confessing on how poorly I had treated my sweet little boys. Especially when I love them both so dearly.
It had been a couple of weeks in the brewing. He must have been going through a major developmental shift and I know this because he is usually great to hang out with, until a developmental milestone is in the works then the “pings” (as Kim John Payne will say) will happen.
(Here is the summary of the lecture on discipline – by Root Parenting Blog – I went to a few years back)
This time around the emotional tornados was hitting us hard from the moment he opens his eyes in the morning and would continue throughout the day. It was starting to wear my strength down and my grounding was starting to waiver.
With all the hard work of conscious, respectful and attachment parenting I’ve been learning and practicing throughout the years, deep anger and resentment was brewing inside me. The usual healthy doses of self awareness and consistent inner work was not holding me up this time around.
A week of this had gone by and by Saturday morning it all fell apart for me and I yelled and screamed at him for yelling and screaming at me. I had completely lost control of my temper to a point where I didn’t really recognize myself. It was awful. When I saw the scared look on both our boys’ faces, my heart broke into pieces but I could not stop until after I had used physical force to get my 5 year old into the car.
It was traumatic for all of us.
It was one of the most awful position to be in. I knew very well that it was my responsibility to show my child how to handle strong emotions and yet I showed him exactly how NOT to be. This was not something I had imagine witnessing. This scared me.
The monster in me (one that I had not seen in a long long time) came out and my kids witnessed it all. It was not pretty.
We were getting ready for both boys to their first dentist appointment. My husband and I had been carefully planning this for months now. We would purposely schedule multiple short dental appointments for ourselves and would bring them with us to get acquainted with both the dentist, the equipment and the environment. We’ve made all efforts to have all those experience positive and light-hearted.
As we were getting ready to go, my 5 year old boy started to have a tantrum. The kind that was physically violent. He refused to get dressed. I couldn’t take it anymore. I saw red and it sucked me right in.
I needed to win. I needed to prove to him that we had principles and that we do what we set out to do. I forced him to get dressed and into the car. And by the time we got to the dental office we were both exhausted. More me than him.
After all that work to get there, we found out the receptionist had screwed up the time of our session and we never got to see the dentist.
So much for trying to prove a point.
In hind sight, my brilliant and sensitive 5 year old was just trying to do everything he could to resist going because he was scared and needed empathy from us. He had always been the kid that resisted strongly to anything new. I know this very well about him and I should have known better. But I fell into the vortex of reacting to those big feelings and made the situation worse than it already was.
I became deflated and useless. I fell into a deep dark hole of sadness and guilt. I had to be in the car by myself when my husband took the kids to have lunch at a coffee shop for I could not keep the tears in.
I cried and cried and cried. It was a rainy drab day so that helped in terms of letting the tears flow.
After we put the kids to nap, my husband said: “You need to get out of here and go do something that does not require any problem solving. Go shopping. Go get a massage. Go drive and listen to podcasts (one of my favourite things to do). Go be good to yourself.”
Gosh darn. Can I be more blessed?! With a husband like that I owe it to him and our kids to go find a way to get myself back.
Not knowing what to do or where to go (because I had planned to spend the day with the family), I packed my bag with my usual alone-time gear: laptop, planner, a book, workout clothes, a towel and jumped into the car.
As I sat in the quiet car, I didn’t know where to go. Thank goodness for technology, I checked into the schedule of my acupuncturist and there was an opening in 30 mins! Jackpot, I booked it and headed out.
After giving my acupuncturist the short version of my head-spinning morning, she smiled and said she is going to give me one of the most nourishing treatment I have ever received. Just hearing that had made me feel much better already.
During my session as I lay on the therapist’s bed, it became clear to me that I was just about to get my period and that my out-of-character melt down could be due to the hormone shift of PMS. Now I have never been one to loose my mind over PMS throughout the years of menstrual cycles (maybe a little bit when I was a teen). But I realized that the biggest difference with my current state may be due to the fact that it had been 5 months since I had stopped nursing.
Laying there on the massage table with needles punctuating various meridian points throughout my body, the calming effect of the treatment had allowed my tension to soften, assisting my rational brain to surface and started to consider this:
that the hormone levels in my body today would be quite different than it had been the past 6 years. Since our boys are 2.5 years apart, and I’ve nursed both passed 2 years old, most likely I had been producing much higher levels of oestrogen, progesterone and others in the past 6 years than what I am living on now.
Realizing this imbalance in addition to a winter of a few rounds of the flu, I could not be as diligent as I needed to be in the self-care department (ie. regular exercising and proper me time etc.). All that plus new levels of hormones circulating my veins, I had burnt out and didn’t realize it.
Note to all mothers: If you have yet to try acupuncture, please do. For in my humble opinion that it is one of the fastest form of therapy to get your bearings back from falling off a cliff into a calm state. The fastest way to the first stage of zen so to speak, the physical state at least, for there is a lot more work involved to get to the bottom of this anger that came up for me. Nonetheless I highly recommend all others to have the number of an acupuncturist on speed dial.
After my therapy session, I took the rest of the afternoon as slow as I could. I had to stop myself from thinking about running errands and letting go of being home to get dinner ready and putting the boys to bed.
I took a long hot shower at the therapy studio, then got in the car and drove aimlessly while I asked myself where I’d like to take myself to have dinner. What to eat? Where to go? These questions all felt a bit foreign to me.
As I felt aimless, the need to find some kind of connection with more experienced mothers was strong. So far to date, all of my same-time-zone-mama-friends are all in the same parenting stage we are in – the early years = busy and tired, so I know it would be hard to find a spontaneous shoulder to cry on.
Thank God for Podcasts! I dug out some old favourites and found some amazing new ones that spoke directly to what I needed to hear that day and started driving. (Which got me thinking about starting my own podcast! Ooo a scary yet exciting thought.)
Something about be alone in the car and driving while listening to great insights really help me find the grounding that I needed at the time.
THE PLAN OF ACTION:
Ok, so here is the list of what I had come up with during this much needed long-ish stretch of alone time:
1. I need to keep and eye out for my hormone level changes in the next little while. Try booking those self-care appointments ahead of time.
2. Need to go consult my Naturopath and chat about how I can manage these new levels with a deeper look at my current diet, exercise and supplements.
3. Since I am now a homeschooling mom AND working part-time (when the boys are asleep), I need to plan for one day out of every two weeks (still not sure about possibilities of the recurrence of this) where I can have an afternoon off that would not require me to run errands and come home to prepare dinner and do bedtime routine. Basically do something that is shear fun for me. Note to self: write out a “mama-only fun list”.
4. I need to slowly rebuild the broken connection with my boys by elevating the quality of our one-on-one time together. By doing what exactly? I’m not sure yet but I’m trusting that my intuitions, intentions, keeping my eyes and ears more open and they will let me know what they will need from me and I will be ready to give.
5. Together with the boys we will get outside even more than usual and do more forest-y, beach-y and picnics than we had been over the winter months. Thank goodness its Spring!!
6. Keeping my husband informed of when I really need a break and not hesitate to ask for it.
7. Sleep more. Ok. this one I’m writing down to just make myself sound like I will actually do that 🙂
8. Remind myself that these years go by fast and that they are in their golden years of adorable-ness and keeping the gratitude attitude in check.
9. Continuously finding and adjusting ways of nurturing myself so I can go nurture the heck out of the beautiful family that I am working so hard for.
10. Most important: to work on the self discovering of the what and why I was triggered so badly this time around. I will report back on this one.
QUESTION FOR MY DEAR READERS:
Do you have a scary parenting-related burn out story?
Please share your burn out stories if you will. I want to hear from you, especially when things are going tough. We all know that this parenting journey is not always a bed of roses (or my favourite flower – ranunculus) and I know for a fact that some of you may be in the middle of having a challenging time with parenting.
I want to somehow connect with you when you are having a hard day or phase, or maybe share a story of how you have overcome a difficult patch. Email me privately if you don’t wont to share here on the comments section. I would love to hear from you.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Until next time…
Much sincerity, love and blessings,