Parenting can be so hard sometimes. I mean, so incredibly hard. I feel like winter time can make it so much harder with all of the bugs that go around. We have had our fair share of illness this year and I don’t feel like we’ve truly snapped out of it. Combine that with the seasonal issues of not being able to go outside and play as often and as long as we can in the warmer and drier months and you have the perfect recipe for the most insane meltdowns.
If you were at my local grocery store today, there is a very good chance that you heard or seen my daughter losing her ever-loving mind on our way out of the store. Why, you may ask? Because she all of a sudden decided that her legs did not work and that she could not walk to the car. My arms were completely full with grocery bags and there was no way that I was going to carry them and stop to pick her up.
Please understand that my daughter is a very smart, perfectly amazing, able-bodied young girl with two completely working legs. There was not one reason why I should stop and pick her up and carry her to the car, other than she was possibly tired or maybe still feeling a little blah. This is not me being a mean mom. Rather, a mom who does not want a 4 year old to be making crazy requests like having me carry an additional 40 pounds at a moment where I am already carrying a purse stuffed with her coat, cape and doll that she refused to carry, plus 6 grocery bags.
I continue to walk down the sidewalk to the car while encouraging her to do the same. She was screaming as though somebody was abducting her. Full. Blown. Tantrum mode. Now I can understand being sick and I can understand being tired, but I am to a point with these tantrums where I also cannot stop and reason my children with all of their crazy requests all day, every day.
I was almost to the car when my daughter realized that she not only had to use her two working legs to walk to the car which by the way was parked right out in front of the building. She realized that she would have to step down from the sidewalk onto the pavement which is a good probably five inches. This was enough to send her into hysterics. I stood there telling her that I would not be picking her up and that she would be walking to the car door which was another four feet. There was not one ounce of me that was going to give in at this point. I did not care that people stopped and stared. I did not care if people judged me and this moment.
I cared that my daughter learned a lesson and understand that while I love her whole-heartedly and unconditionally, I will not cater to her every request. I will not make my life harder every time she asks me to. I need her to embrace her independence and be proud of the fact that she is capable and able to do many things. Even the things that most people take for granted, such as being able to walk to and from the car into a store.
I eventually convinced her to get in the car and at that time she became upset that she had to wear her seatbelt. I closed the door and went to the back of my car to put my groceries in the car. It was there that I saw an older gentleman watching this scenario play out. I already felt uncomfortable because what mom doesn’t when their child unleashes holy hell in public, but here I was being watched. Presumably – judged. I got flushed in my cheeks and said, “wow, I think I’m going to need a little more coffee to get through this day!” And smiled before turning back to get my groceries situated.
It was then that I was reminded, we’ve all been there. This man who was old enough to have grandchildren said, “I’m just in awe of your patience with your little girl. Kids can be really tough and you’re keeping so calm! You should feel proud because I’m not so sure I ever was that calm with my kids when they had melt downs like that.”
Wait. He was not judging me? He was complimenting me? Does this mean I’m doing ok? Because when you’re in the thick of these situations, it starts to feel like you’re a failure real quick sometimes. But here is this sweet man, saying I’m doing ok. I literally sighed with relief. Now that I’m truely calm in my mind and soul, I wish I would’ve have thought to ask him if I could shake good hand or hug him because it was the one moment of my day where I felt I was actually doing ok.
After coming home, we had long conversations about what is and isn’t appropriate in terms of sharing why your frustrated, reminding her top use words vs. The screaming and growling she tends to do when upset etc… and I reminded myself how offering an alternative solution is always helpful (i.e. I can’t pick you up to carry you right now, but maybe we could hold hands instead).
As mom’s, I think we always try our best and I think most of us look back at moments like this and realize both mom and child could have handled the situation better. I am keeping my fingers crossed that tomorrow will be better. I am switching back to a more structured day, because we stopped having structure and really emphasizing what the best thing to be doing was, in the moment. Sometimes when you’re really sick, it’s easier to let them watch an extra show on tv so you all can rest vs. Turning it off and going outside for a walk. Sometimes when you’re sick it’s easier to say yes to a toy request at a store vs saying no and hearing them beg.
Now that I’m almost healed from my health issues, I’m really going to get back to basics. I look forward to this so much. It’s easy to take your health for granted until you see how far it reaches when you aren’t healthy. Have you ever tried structuring your day? Ours will look something like this:
7am – wake up
730 – breakfast + music
8am – get dressed + shower if needed
830 – talk about yesterday + plans for today + weather + date/holiday
9am – play
930 – snack
1000 – outside or playroom activity
1030 – reading
1100 – music + dance
1130 – free play
1200 – lunch
1pm – nap for G, craft with A.
130 – quiet time
300 – outside or inside activity
400 – free play
500 – dinner + clean up
600 – bath
630 – story
700 – bed
This is just a rough example. This schedule is based on learning through play, so of course it’s very flexible. Tomorrow is a new day.