Does your toddler go from 0-200? My 3 year old does and I constantly go back and forth between wondering if I should be worried, to NO, this has to be normal, right?! My husband is a firefighter and I’m a full-time teacher. It’s now summer and I am off from my job, although still working summer school for a few hours a day. The kids are in daycare full time because we have to pay a good amount whether they go or not, they are totally going. This is glorious for me because I can go to work in the morning for 2.5 hours, train for my 1/2 marathon and then go home and do more self-care- read books, lay at the pool, actually take a shower, watch The Bachelorette on Hulu from the night before, etc. BUT this week, daycare is closed and I might sound like a snobby, ungrateful mama, but for the love of GOD, HOLY MELTDOWNS. Let me start off by saying, Howie is pretty much never home during the week. He is either at the firehouse or building a 2,000 square foot barn by himself in our backyard (with one other kid) and we don’t have a baby-sitter. I am on the front line almost everyday. It’s only Monday and I feel like I can’t do it alone. Another side note, my kids are wired. And no, it’s not because I worked out when I was pregnant. Just meet my dad for a minute and you’ll know why.
I feel guilty for feeling like this, but I swear I count my blessings. I swear, I will close my eyes and breathe and pray to God thanking him for 2 healthy babies. I keep trying so hard to savor these moments where they forgive me in 2 seconds. I keep trying to find the function of her behaviors (#behaviorteacher). When I say behaviors, I mean holy meltdowns- how in God’s name does a little itty bitty girl act out SO BIG? She loves Nana and Papa and Mimi and Papi, but a lot of the time she gets 1 on 1 time with them where she doesn’t have to compete for attention. And this part breaks my heart because I remember so clearly being 19 months pregnant about to give birth when I was holding Juliana on my big belly, crying so hard because I knew that was the last moment of just her and I. I can still feel that emotion to my core. I didn’t want to share her with anyone. Fast forward and I have a 3 year old and a 1 year old. This season of life might actually be the same as heaven and hell. Juliana tells me how much she loves me all the time. I even get strangers coming up to me in public telling me how amazingly well-behaved she is. Just yesterday, my mom, Jules and I got pedicures (her first one, don’t judge), and we had to wait A LONG time. She did amazing! She was patient, asking questions, waving to people…so happy to be spending time with us. Then we are home and bored and it’s too hot to go outside, or she wants to play with her dollhouse but Hudson is trying to climb inside. The hell part arrives. She starts hitting Hudson or screaming at the top of her lungs. I carry Hudson to the other room, but she’s mad because she wants me in there with her. Then Hudson is crying because he’s like a freakin’ leach and wants to latch on to my boob every waking hour #Teething #IHatePhases. It’s like I can’t even split the time with them evenly because I am constantly trying to please them both, but actually miss out on spending any time with either of them. Hudson is usually left in the dust while I am trying to calm her down. Life is good again within 5 minutes, but then something doesn’t go her way or she’s climbing the refrigerator because her milk that she left out isn’t cold. She opens the fridge and 2 seconds later, Hudson is inside the fridge taking everything out. For the love of God, I can’t even look away for one second.
We have a cute elephant chair in our living room and I’ve been meaning to bring it downstairs in the play room. I am making lunch for them when all of a sudden Hudson is standing on the chair and Jules is crying because she’s afraid he is going to fall. I drop everything in the kitchen to intervene and now he wants to eat, but so does she. Ok, it’s nap time. OH WAIT, my kids are wired and rarely nap unless I’m driving. The lunch process takes an hour because let’s face it, food is everywhere but in their bellies and since I have OCD I need my house somewhat clean before we leave. And OMG it takes us FOREVER to leave our house. Pack the diaper bag, make sure Jules uses the potty, change Hudson’s diaper and most likely his shirt because it’s covered in food even with a bib on, take Koko out, pack a few snacks, make COLD milk and water, go back and use the potty again…Finally we are in the car and Mama didn’t brush her hair and probably forgot to eat real food so a protein bar will do.
OH and today at mommy daycare, she peed about 10x in her pants. She didn’t have one accident when she went with Nana and Papa on a train ride. She hardly has accidents at daycare. She didn’t have any accidents yesterday when we got pedicures with Mimi. Is it me?! Is it Hudson?! Alone, she is SO easy, but with the 2 kids it really is SO SO SO SO SO hard. I actually feel like it’s not fun and I get anxiety because I feel like there is nothing to do. They actually are so great when we go out, but it’s hard to be out all day. Target, Big Y Costco, and the library are our jam. We love walks too. But it’s hard to play outside because 1) it’s SO hot and humid this summer 2) Daddy is building a HUGE barn so equipment is everywhere 3) Hudson takes off and Jules wants attention on the swing set and trampoline 4) we can’t swim because I can’t be alone at the pool with 2 babes since Jules can’t swim and Hudson has no fear and drowning is my biggest fear ever.
I get it. Any parent of at toddler is very familiar with the kicking, screaming, and chaotic life.
Many of the meltdowns toddlers experience between about 9-30 months old arise from the frustration of not being able to communicate, says pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene.Their ideas far outstrip their language skills. If you put yourself in their shoes- being upset and not understanding how to communicate that- the tantrums make more sense.
I feel so bad because I so badly want her to come out of this. Let me just explain what her worst meltdowns look like- the one’s I wrote about above are your typical toddler tantrums that you might see at the grocery store or at that end within 5- 10 minutes. But at her worst, which may have similar triggers to the ones that aren’t so bad- she is like the exorcist. She literally transforms into the Exorcist, eyes rolling, screaming, gagging, throwing things, thrashing her body, hitting, etc. These meltdowns are similar to her night terrors. Yes, another blog topic. She just recently started getting SEVERE night terrors where she will abruptly wake up screaming, standing up in her room, soaking in sweat, thrashing her body and hitting us. It can take awhile for her to come out of it, but she has no idea it happened in the morning. The real time meltdowns (when she’s not sleeping) are scary because she is not safe and I feel like I am back at work in my classroom. I also feel like a failure because I feel like I can’t manage my own baby. I actually have to put her in her room and lock her in- using a safety door knob from the inside so she can’t open the door. I tried time-in’s, but she got so aggressive that she would hit Hudson or try to hit me. This is all new behavior this month. Everyone who knows Juliana knows she is a sassy, feisty Queen, but she’s also the sweetest, most loving and happy little girl. When she has these meltdowns, which are becoming way more frequent this past week, it’s like she’s not even in her own body. Hudson usually cries because he gets scared. She is screaming at the top of her lungs, piercing screams, sometimes she makes herself throw up, she pees in her underwear or all over the floor, she throws things- and this all can last up to a half hour.
Just tonight, after a great day of going to grocery shopping, going to Starbucks, making special keto donuts, watching Sesame Street, having a dance party in the kitchen, reading books, playing downstairs, playing on the deck, making dinner, and going for a walk, she started to head towards that meltdown mood. I think this happens when she’s overtired. We were playing in Hudson’s room, reading books, playing in the tend, and laughing. Hudson sat in his little chair and she went over and dumped him out. He almost hit his head on the crib and for the 10th time, I felt her undies and she was soaked. I let her know I wasn’t mad, but she can’t sit in the rocking chair in wet undies. I also was pretty low-key about her dumping Hudson out of the chair because I know her and I know if I start yelling at her for that, it will escalate. She came back in clean underwear and seemed happy, but started throwing toys all over the room. I asked her what was wrong and to use her words…she start talking like a baby and I tried to change the subject and distract her, but then she threw a fire truck across the room. By now, I am so tired and starving and I just want to take a shower since I have pee and chocolate on my leg. I told her she won’t using the iPad and that threw her over the edge. She started hitting me, screaming, running after Hudson. Meanwhile, he’s hanging on me, pulling down my pants, crying and she is like a cracked out demon on the loose. I picked her up, she’s soaked again, brought her in her room, changed her, put a pull up on and then shut the door and said it’s bed time, we are all done. I started nursing Hudson in his room and put the white noise machine on high while she was in her room thrashing, throwing the diaper genie, destroyed her bed, throwing her toys, breaking things, choking, etc. This is what a bad meltdown looks like. Imagine this at 3am.
I love my children. I was made to be a mom. But I am human. I’m allowed to feel guilty and tired and done and like a failure. The good really does outweigh the bad. This meltdown lasted almost 30 minutes. Thankfully Hudson fell asleep quick and I could go in her room and calm her down. She immediately was in my lap shaking and I started to cry- but she didn’t know it. I felt like I was traumatizing her, but I couldn’t pay attention to her during this episode because I was feeding Hudson and wanted him to go to bed so his poor little head wouldn’t keep getting hit. She still loved me so much after all that. I constantly battle between wondering if I have enough control and boundaries to not having any control and failing her. Yes, I lose my shit, especially when I’m alone. I get short tempered when people complain that they are exhausted. I get bitter when I find out my sister in law has 500 people to help her and I struggle to get Nana, Papa, Mimi, or Papi to come help.
I’m not working full time at the moment and I’m not a stay at home mom, but I kind of am this summer. I must say you stay at home mom’s ROCK! You guys are so selfless and amazing and strong and patient. Don’t ever doubt yourself. You are not a failure. You are tired and exhausted, but you are not failure. These tiny little demon humans are emotionally charged and they are trying to navigate the world the only way they know how. It’s easy to lose our shit, but if we do, we must compose ourselves, intervene like the strong bad ass mama’s we are, and move on. We are each learning so much from each other. I learn SO much from Juliana- not sure if she learns more from me or if I learn more from her. She is fierce, strong, strong-willed, stubborn, loud, bipolar, smart, sweet, feisty, sassy, a leader, protective, bold- almost everything I’m not. I have my work cut out for me as she gets older and I want so badly to know I have nothing to worry about it (I have PTSD from being a special ed teacher), but for now I am going to soak in all the love and forgiveness because when she’s 13 I’ll be crying for these moments.
You got this mama. This too shall pass.