My toddler threw an epic fit this morning because I put pants on him. Maybe he didn’t like those pants or maybe (more likely) he was just tired, but he screamed and thrashed around for a good 10 minutes. And as I waited it out I wanted to get on the floor next to him and kick and cry too. And I realized: I never get to lose my shit, and this mommy could really use a good tantrum.
See our family has been going through somewhat of a rough season. Unexpected bills, 3 cases of the flu and teething have put all of us on edge. But through all of it I trudge on, because as the saying goes: moms don’t get sick days. Although it is my life’s greatest calling, raising my children is the most stressful, scariest, hair-pullingest experience I ever could have imagined. It takes everything out of me. Sometimes I feel a little unhinged, but I can’t show it. So the question is: when does this mommy get to throw a fit?
Mornings I wrangle the kiddos into the car, drive to daycare and then work. I try to swipe a little makeup on my face, pour myself some coffee, and then it’s time to deal with the other civilized grown-ups. It is important for me to display acceptable office behavior if I want to keep my job. So no matter how overwhelmed or upset I may be, I have to put on a friendly face and act professional. It is certainly frowned upon to sit down at your desk and stomp your feet and cry, so morning outbursts are out of the question.
After work is the daycare pick-up. It’s basically a parking lot full of cars that are left haphazardly running, blocking empty parking spaces. But you can’t go full-on meltdown road rage in the daycare parking lot, even if the other parents park like inconsiderate morons. That is how your child gets uninvited to birthday parties for the rest of the year, and you get the look of disdain from their moms for even longer.
Then it’s home for dinner, baths and homework. Any one of these can be a potential source of conflict. Some days my kindergartner cries at the mere mention of flashcards. Or runs screaming because we are having chicken and mashed potatoes for dinner, never mind that it was his favorite last week. And most days my toddlers flips out about something, whether it’s the injustice of bath time ending or his unrequited desire to stick his fingers into the electrical sockets. As most moms know, the only way to effectively diffuse these situations is to remain calm. If everyone is kicking and crying there would be nobody to calmly diffuse the situation. That’s my job. I get the big kid to eat, distract the toddler, soothe the anxieties and steer them towards bedtime. There’s no time for mommy meltdowns in the midst of bedtime routines.
If I’m lucky I get a shower before I get them in bed, but that’s not exactly sacred alone time. I am always listening for crashes or crying, and frequently interrupted with some terribly important question such as “mom who’s your favorite ninja turtle?”
By the time I fall in bed I’m too tired to even think about having energy for anything.
There is so much that is hard about motherhood. But the thing I find most challenging is that I am always on – always a responsible party. No matter how stressed or overwhelmed I am I have to remain rational and make the best decisions for the little people in my care. Some days I get overwhelmed and want to throw a larger-than-life fit, flailing arms and legs and all. But I have found that this mommy doesn’t get to throw tantrums. Not in this season of my life anyway – there’s just too much going on. I can however get away with stomping my feet a little if the mood strikes – a tiny victory that keeps me going.
Hang in there mommas, and if you need to throw a little fit now and then I understand. Let me know how it goes – I’ll be cheering you on.