Oh friends. Thank you for being out there. Thank you for reading. Thank you for caring.
Our sweet little routine that I wrote about some time back got blown all to hell round about Easter. The Toddler’s having a rough sleep patch again. I was thinking yesterday that you could know a lot about a mama’s mental health by asking her one simple question, ‘How are your kids sleeping lately?’
Could it all be sleep related? She’s back to having a fit most days, and some days (today) two or three. She is getting something like ten hours a night, and generally no naps remember.
When we’re in a blessed Good Spell, she gets almost 12 hours. Hardly any fits. 10 hours– everything is a struggle.
Or is it the chicken and the egg? Is something going on inside her little self that makes for the fits and the sleep troubles?
Whatever it is, oh please gods, goddesses or whoever might be listening, help her through it soon. I feel weak.
Today was my fault really. I over-scheduled a little girl who I knew damn well was dwelling at the Edge. I was trying to get us out of the house so My Man could study for his last (hallelujah!) test in peace. When I had to strap her screaming, thrashing body into the stroller to quick get from one to the next play date, you would think I would have taken heed.
I wasn’t completely insane, I thought she would fall asleep in the car on the way there, be refreshed and we’d be okay. But, plans changed so that our friends ended up coming over here instead. No nap, and all the pitfalls of property.
It was a MINE!MINE!MINE! day. Really I should have just said to my friend, ‘You know, I’m sorry, but this isn’t going to get any better. Why don’t you just come back another time.’ But of course she had driven some distance, and so we just kept trying to make it work. Trying to get two little girls off the minemine merry-go-round. Ended with me having to remove my toddler to another room, and the ensuing screaming at the top of her lungs fit. With Babe on one hip, lest you forget.
Sigh. Poor sweet little soul. I never seem to get mad once she reaches the point of a screaming fit. I get mad at her all the time, when she’s being a feisty little spitfire. But by the point of screaming, I just feel sad for her. Sad and kind of deadened.
The true voraciousness of her fits is almost always caused by something I have done which drives home the point that she is not in control of her own life. I can shut the door and lock it, and there’s nothing that she can do about it. I can rip a thing away from her weaker fingers, put it on a high shelf and she cannot physically get it back. And that is when the earnest screaming starts.
I have heard the idea that ‘you have to show you’re in control because how scary would it be to be 2 and master of the universe?’ And I see the sense in that. But what it doesn’t address is this: I know she should not have control over me, or those around her. But what about having control over her own self? Her own life and choices? I see such a caged animal panic in her eye when it happens, and it feels wrong.
Of course ‘freedom not license’ is hard to pinpoint. Where does her freedom end and someone else’s begin? If she is making everybody else miserable, and so I remove her from a place, who’s freedom am I protecting/destroying?
My tactic for fits is to stay with her, occasionally offer things I think might help (a glass of water, snack, to read a book), but otherwise try to sort of ignore her. Not actually ignore, because I tried some of that and I think it scared her unnecessarily to have me vacant. But to continue with whatever I was doing as much undisturbed as I can. I feel like this sends her the message that although I am there for her, she is not the center of attention just because she is screaming. I am available to help if there is something she needs, but otherwise I am just going to let her get her screaming out.
That all sounds nice when it’s packaged up into neat little words. But what this comes down to is me trying to, for example, keep washing the dishes while she is screaming/shrieking and clinging to my leg so hard she’s pulling my pants off. Or maybe I wasn’t doing anything in particular, and so I have to try to find something to make myself look busy so I don’t just sit there and stare at her.
Sometimes everybody needs a good cry. Her’s are just so much louder and more horrible looking than any grown-ups I’ve ever known….
A good friend once said that when she was confused about what or how to do something with her kids she’d try to think what she would do if they were an adult friend. I like the sound of that, but honestly, I wouldn’t keep a friend who threw screaming fits because she didn’t get something she wanted. I wouldn’t keep a friend who screamed at me to go away, then clung screaming to my leg when I tried to leave. I wouldn’t keep a friend who acted like a two year old.
If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes. This Rough Patch has been on for about a month now, so it’s bound to be just about done, right? Right? Hello?