Last night was a hard night. I don’t have many hard night with my kids anymore. They are pretty used to the routine, battle a little, but then do what they are told and go to bed. But I see some changes on the horizon that, frankly, scare the crap out of me. My 9 year old is starting to have emotional, uncontrollable meltdowns where she is testing every ounce of patience I have. Last night was the pinnacle of her new found tantrums and I realized, during it, that this parenting thing will not be getting any easier as I had hoped. In fact, last night, I felt for the first time in a really long time that being a parent sucks the life out of you.
When They Throw a Tantrum
When a child her age throws a tantrum it really boggles the mind. She should know better. She should know to control herself. She should know by now that this is not going to go over well with me. But when this child gets tired lately, tantrums are the result. Usually not bad ones, a few whimpers here and there, but still a change in her attitude. I know she is entering that ‘pre-puberty’ phase of her life and I can see it in the quick to tears reaction she is having to minor things. But last night she took it to a new level. It lasted almost 2 hours. 2 hours of crying, screaming, throwing her stuffed animals, calling me names, keeping her sisters up, and on and on it went. At first I ignored it. But when she sat in her bed screaming at the top of her lungs, keeping her sister’s up who both wanted to go to bed, I had to do something. So I moved her to another room to sleep and, literally, all hell broke loose. By the end of it she had gotten a spanking, lost her toys, been grounded and racked up $80 in sassing mom money. By the end of it I felt a failure. Like I could have done it better, could have googled faster for a solution, could have been a better mom. I felt… drained.
Enforcing the Punishment is Punishment on You
With a child grounded, I am too. As a single mom, with her grounded, I feel like my other two kids are too. Now I have to enforce the punishment. Which she really needs if she is ever going to learn not to do this again. As drained as I still am over last night, I have a list of things I said during the tantrum, standing at her door, arms crossed, telling her to lay down and go to bed. I have to make her write the 200 sentences. I have to make her pay me the sass mom money. I have to make her do chores galore. I have to make her write an apology letter to me and to her two sister’s for her tantrum. I have to make her live in her room, completing the entire list, which should take days, before she is ‘ungrounded’.
I have to stand tall, not budge, not cave in. Not let her do the Dance Camp on Saturday if she is not done with the list. I, quite possibly, will trigger another melt down and I have to stand strong and not let up. It is not going to be pleasant. It is not going to be my favorite parenting memory. But it might be the one time that it sinks in that controlling yourself when you get upset is a majorly important thing in life. But I feel drained about it already.
Watching your Child Cry Over Something You Did
I cried later over this one. I almost never spank my children. An abused child myself, I always fear that I will take it too far and turn into my mother. I honestly can not even tell you the last time I did, in fact. But at some time during the chaos last night, I felt it was necessary. I took her arm, layed her over my knee on a chair and popped her on the butt twice. Her crying changed then. No longer crying in defiance, she was now crying in shock. Not so much from any pain on her bottom, but a spirit breaking pain of confusion in her head. Now I know it is not ‘PC’ to spank and that I will get many a comment about what a horrible mother I am that I did and smart remarks about, ‘Well are you happy? Did it work?’ But at the time, I felt it was necessary to gain control of a situation with a child who was out of control.
It did work, for the most part, in that she no longer was throwing the tantrum to test her boundaries but now was truly upset that I had taken a drastic measure. She wanted hugs and kisses after and to sit in my lap like a baby. But, though I did hug her quickly, she had to go to bed as I had originally asked. So as draining as it was, we entered another phase of the tantrum in an effort to get her to actually do as she was told hours before.
The Eternal Headache
By the time I got her to lay down and close her eyes, most likely from exhaustion than anything I did, my head hurt so badly it almost overshadowed the pain in my heart. As I rubbed her back, helping her calm and finally fall into a deep sleep, the mere noise of my hand over her pajama shirt, rustling lightly with every rub, split through my head like a watermelon hacked by a samurai sword. Tylenol would no help this headache. This headache was the result of the emotional and mental drain that had taken place over the last few hours and was likely to continue over the next few days. This was from the screams and cries from her that still rung in my head. This was the eternal headache of the exhausted mom battling with herself over how to raise a child, love a child, discipline a child and teach a child all at the same time. This was the eternal headache of motherhood and making the decision to be the mother and not the friend. And it about made me want to cut my head off.
Beating Yourself Up
As I lay in bed last night, tears streaming down my face in exhaustion and disappointment, I beat myself up over every decision. If I had handled it this way and not that way, would it have still escalated? If I had said this and not that would it have dissipated? How would people react when I told them about it? How many would judge me, bring the self battery to a new level? How would she react when she woke? Would she still love me? Would she fear me now? Did any of it help her at all? Or was this the precursor to help she needs now? Is it even normal for a 9 year old to have a tantrum like this? Does she need psychiatric help? Do I?
As I drifted into a bliss-less sleep accompanied by bad dreams and startling awakes, I pondered the entire evening, minute by minute, beating myself up over every single decision. Why we take the actions of our children so personally, I will never know. She does own responsibility for what she did. But am I the worst of mothers because it happened at all?
As I write about it now, I have tears in my eyes, an ache in my heart and fear in my head. But I will have to forge through, enforcing the punishment, praying I have the backing of God and strength he gives me to make a positive difference out of this negative moment, and be a mom. Because as absolutely draining as it is sometimes, I can not imagine being anything else.
You are a wonderful mother. Because you care. I have been in your shoes as a single mom of 3. Even though I am happily married now, your blogs always tough close to my heart because I have been where you are, and in some ways still am. You can’t worry about what people say or think because who has time for that? What thoughts you have of should have, could have and the headaches mean you are an amazing loving mom. It’s in the moments like last night that won’t be good happy memories but will be wisdom and words of encouragement for your daughters as they become mothers in the future. Then, as you know that they still love you, need you and want your help you will smile. Those moments of weakness and pain is what truly makes a family, well a family unconditionally. Hats off to you, and as you down a couple of Tylenol today… I hope you make it a good day. Even though everyone is punished, it’s something that keeps you all bonded which they will thank you for later! Stay strong mama! ;)
Thank you Shannon for your kind words and taking the time to share them. I believe some good will come of this and it may be hard to see now, but it has to be on the horizon. I am so honored that you read me and I love that you can truly relate. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!
I’ve been there before. My 6 year old son is equal parts stubborn and impulsive. I’ve seen him be punished for say, smearing toothpaste on the walls, only for him to do it again (even worse) the next day. And when confronted, he has no answer other then “I just wanted to do it”. He went through a phase where he kept punching his older brother every time he got upset with him. He’s destroyed his stuff or someone else’s because he was angry and didn’t know how to control himself. He’s thrown huge fits because he’s had an accident in his pants and we ask him nicely to clean up (yes he is toilet trained but he has a medical condition). It IS exhausting, and it can take a toll on how you feel about your child too. I find one thing that helps, if possible, is to try to spend extra one-on-one time with them when they’ve calmed down, or when they are un-grounded. It helps to remind both of you why you still love and like each other :)
Thank you so much, Amanda! I agree, often times a little more time with just that child can make a world of difference! When she is ungrounded, I will make an effort to take just her to dinner :) Much luck with your son. He sounds like a challenge but they say the more challenging the child, the more successful adult!!
I swear that there must have been a full moon last night. My 4 year old had a complete meltdown and breakdown. We were at my 12 year old’s Open House where we got the chance to meet the teachers. Michael was inconsolable, refused to listen, cried over every small and insignificant thing. The last two classes my oldest had to keep him outside. I was given the dirtiest of looks by parents and kids. I felt like a failure. I popped him for his behavior, tried to reason with him, all to no avail. Never had I been more happy for the event to be over. I got all the kids home, and put the 3 youngest to bed immediately. (Michael’s twin Madison and his six year old brother Bobby were also causing disruptions). I had the worst headache. I was most worried about my oldest daughter. She had told me what parents were saying, and she was worried about the reactions from her friends. Basically, I kept it simple. I told her that I’m not perfect. I can’t be everywhere. In the future, I will get a babysitter for the kids so as not to embarrass my daughter at school if they act up. But, I told her to tell anyone that if they had a problem with my parenting, to give out my cell phone number. I’ll gladly talk to anyone who has the gumption to judge me. They just better be perfect. Hugs to you, and thank you for your post. I definitely related to it, and completely feel your struggle.
Yours in motherhood! –Kelly
I can’t even begin to tell you how many nights exactly like this I’ve had with my almost 9 year old. It’s exhausting. I feel like a failure so much as a mother. I worry about her emotionally. I don’t know if I’ll ever get it right, but thank you for sharing, because at least I know it’s not just my child. It’s not just me. We will get through these years, and hopefully have a wonderful relationship as they continue to grow.
I feel you on this one. The only difference is mine is 10 and he has a disability which makes the situation worse than yours. My son will hit, kick, lay on the ground and will not move, pick up items and throw it, and he’s a big boy too so it’s hard to physically move him somewhere safe. It really does drain you when you have a child who is hitting puberty fast and getting into that preteen years. I never thought dealing with a preteen was this hard! I sure wasn’t prepared! My son isn’t able to understand certain things or commands when I tell him, so if I tell him that hitting is bad, he doesn’t understand it b/c he will hit the next day. I feel bad all the time only because I don’t know how to deal with him and his tantrums and I hope every day that therapy will work slowly but surely. It’s so stressful and it drains me and makes me so exhausted that I just go into the bathroom and cry and tell myself that I’m a bad mom. I can see that my son is frustrated inside b/c he’s not able to tell me his emotions, how he’s feeling, it’s just hard. I know how you feel.
You hit the nail on the head! I had major problems with my now 9 year old son. He was asked to leave 2 schools & had to go to a school for kids with emotional disabilities. I had many battles with him, having to spank him, sit on top of him & hold his arms down. I was hit, kicked, bitten & called all sorts of names. He destroyed one bathroom, the list goes on. I cried every night this happened. But, because I was strong & followed through he has learned! He is respectful now & hasn’t thrown a tantrum in almost a year! And he is leaving the school & going back to mainstream, he’s ready to fly! Stay strong & know you are doing the right thing, you are raising wonderful children & you are an amazing mom! Thank you for sharing, it helps all of us feel not so alone.
Lori! I am right there with you! It’s their hormones! We haven’t gotten to quite that level, but Arabelle is definitely throwing tantrums,having a bad attitude & crying at the drop of a hat. I’m having flashbacks to when she was 3! I thought we had a few more years until the hormones kicked in, but no such luck. :( Hang in there, mama! You’re not alone!
Always remind them that they cannot behave that way in the real world when they get older, teach them to discuss their feelings. Mine tried throwing tantrums and I would tell her, when you are finished, I will be in the other room waiting to discuss it, then I would walk away. The tantrums went away after that.
You are such a good mom!
You Are a fabulous mother! I am not a mother my self, HOWEVER I help raise my cousin’s 5 children. She literly spends a grand total of 10 hours with them M-F. The youngest are iny care the rest of the time.
Collin the oldest and only boy has ADHD. I don’t have enough free space on my phone to describe how days go when he doesn’t take his meds.
Rowan is 9. She is the oldest girl and quite frankly she is a spoiled ungrateful little brat. I am sorry. I love her, but she needs a SERIOUS attitude adjustment. She is brilliant in school and is a competition dancer. She thinks she’s all that and a bag of chips.
Kendall Lynn is 5. The world isn’t kind to her. First my cousin had a bizarre condition while pregnant and Kendall was suppose to be born with missing body parts. I mean like finger’s, limbs. She managed to beat tbe odda. She is smack in the middle. And even though she is 4 years younger then Rowan she still is almost as tall as her and is only about 5 pounds lighter. So her wonderful older sister is constantly saying
‘ Um your like 5 you shouldn’t be wearing a size 7/8!’ So it usually ends in a crying jag. Days like that oII could send Rowan China
Brinlee and Blake are twin 3 year olds. They were supposed to be my cousins boy and well instead of one extra girl she got 2! And well we all know how 3 year olds are.
Wow. Such a powerful reading. Thanks for sharing such a relatable experience. You did such a good job describing how hard it can be