As the mom of a four-year old, I’ve seen my share of temper tantrums. And there have been many, many moments when I’ve thought to myself okay, that was bad, but it’s getting better. Or I think that we’re getting to the end of the whole temper tantrum phase but then there’s a solid number of meltdowns in a row and I realize we may never be out of that “phase.”
They say temper tantrums are a normal part of child development, that they’re actually a good thing as far as development is concerned. However, I don’t know if the same rule applies to mom temper tantrums.
In public, when your kid is having a meltdown, you don’t have a ton of options. I always try to take the calm approach with the soothing words, hugs, supporting actions, all the while inwardly panicking hoping things clear up sooner rather than later. I know there are a lot of moms out there who are super casual about tantrums and don’t even bat an eye. They can take everything in stride and, everything just seems to work. I often try to be that mom while still being able to calm down my child, and things rarely go the way I think they should. I forever feel like everyone is staring, everyone is judging, and whether they are or not……it doesn’t do anything to alleviate my anxiety.
Fast forward to last week on Wednesday evening. Tiny Tykes Tee Ball. And yes, that is every bit as glamorous as it sounds. My son loves baseball, asks to play it every day. And with one practice under his belt where he did amazing, I thought we were sitting pretty for the rest of the season. I should know better than to think anything like that after only one outing. Right as it’s time to get underway he informs me that he doesn’t want to play, just wants to sit and watch. And even after I engage in some very on-point coaxing, bribery, and confidence boosting praise, he still insisted he was sitting and watching. All the other kids were circling up to stretch, while my kid was sitting on the sidelines not wanting to engage.
And mom had a temper tantrum. I didn’t kick and scream, but I did verbally express my frustration to my husband, and in an essence shut down while my husband took a stab at getting our son back on the field. I knew in the grand scheme of things this wasn’t a big deal, that chances were after a few minutes he would want to get back on the field, but I gave in to the frustration and the slight embarrassment and let myself have a mommy temper tantrum. I’m not proud of it, and I felt guilty about it the entire rest of the evening, but in that moment I couldn’t put on the brave front and hide my exasperation and frustration.
My son has always been shy, and always needs his time to warm up in new situations. I know this. and I know his reluctance to go out on the field stemmed from a momentary rise in those feelings. I had them myself as a kid and can completely sympathize because I still remember how I would feel. Especially in situations that were still somewhat new, with kids I didn’t know very well or didn’t know at all. I think this was just one of those moments where I wanted things to be easy. For there to be no push back, no resistance, just a brief pause in the action then everyone back to normal. But of course life isn’t always like that, and raising children is almost never like that.
Ultimately, the storm passed. Tee ball went on. My son participated (with a little on-field support from Dad). And the sun rose the next day and life continued. I’m not sure why this little episode has stuck with me over the past week, but for some reason I keep circling back and exploring the tangents. Chances are I’m overthinking all of it – because that happens to be one of my superpowers. And I’ve concluded that this is just another living example of life with kids. Of how things don’t always go the way you want or plan, how even when you want to react and behave a certain way (both moms and kids) sometimes you just can’t, and how life will go on and there will be new moments and challenges to tackle that will allow you to do better the next time.
Major lesson learned: cut my son some slack. Cut myself some slack. We’re each entitled to a temper tantrum once in a while.