Anyone who’s ever known a toddler probably knows what a “meltdown” is – you know, when that sweet and adorable little sweetie pie morphs instantaneously into a red-in-the-face, screaming and kicking ball of fury? Psychologists will tell you that this is considered quite normal behaviour for most 2yo kids – but what about when the meltdown isn’t your child’s but yours? Mummy meltdowns are real, and I’m speaking from personal experience.
Just last week, I exploded (or perhaps, imploded is a better word) at the boys and hubby, after what had been for me a gruelling day of activities, nagging at the boys to tidy up/eat properly/not hurt each other, struggling to attempt a little housework, disappointment in friends and feeling discouraged over issues on the business side. I yelled at the boys, ignored the hubby’s valiant attempts to troubleshoot, slammed the door, sat on my bed in the dark and cried. And when that didn’t work for me, I grabbed my phone and Bible, yanked the door open, muttered something about needing to get out of the house to think, and left the house, banging the gate shut behind me as I went. It was just before the boys’ bedtime.
As I left, I could hear two little worried boys asking Daddy, “What’s wrong with mummy?” And part of me almost ran back into the house to hug them and say sorry for acting so crazed. But I needed that space (plus, you know, my son gets his strong will from one of us…) and so I willed myself to just walk away. Eventually, I sat down on a bench, took out my Bible and just read wherever it opened – and read and read furiously.
No, I’m not some super spiritual saint – in fact, I wish I prayed more and turned to God’s word more whenever I feel down. Most times, I tend to process life and its various issues with my own sense of logic and wearing my counselor hat, instead of just taking it all to Him from the start. But that day, just before I snapped, the thought occurred to me that I had had such a busy week that I hadn’t really sat down to read my Bible for days, so that’s why I took it with me, almost as an afterthought. Thank God for that.
While what I read didn’t speak to my situation right then, the act of reading and meditating on what I read did calm me down. Slowly, I could come to terms with the mashed-up mess of emotions I was feeling and put words to them and take a step back from my angst. Finally, after almost an hour, I felt ready to go home to “face the music”.
But the hubby is the sweetest man I know – he should have been mad with the way I had stalked off, but he didn’t yell or give me the cold shoulder. He sat with me, and waited, and let me slowly tell him all about the struggles of my day through tearful starts and stops. He listened.
And suddenly my problems didn’t seem so big anymore.
Later on that night, I woke up David who, like me, needs closure desperately. Sorry, Mummy behaved really badly just now. But it’s not your fault, and mummy loves you very much ok? And we both teared and hugged. He gets me so well.
I talked to Daryl the next day, because waking him up to apologise would have been madness. 😉
As I reflected on my behaviour, I realised that I had done it again. Packed my schedule too thin, and placed a lot of unnecessary expectations on myself. (Man, I’m so good at that…) Truth be told, it’s not the first time I’ve done this – I do tend to bite off more than I can chew – but as with previous situations, it was a timely reminder to create space.
Space for myself, space for the family. Space for delays and forgetfulness and mistakes and traffic jams. Space to rest – both for the heart and for the hands.
So, to all who may see me as this perfect mum who’s got it all together, the truth is I’m really not that person you think I am. I struggle with being patient and kind – every day. I’m still working out how to juggle different priorities and responsibilities which all matter a lot to me. I’m still learning ways to guard my walk with Him and remember that “only one thing matters”. I’m constantly wondering how to manage my time and energy more prudently, and wishing I wasn’t passionate about so many things.
And I decided to share my experience here, as honestly as I can, because I think that I am probably not alone in having the occasional mummy meltdown. For some of you, maybe these meltdowns are not just once in a while but regular affairs, due to various factors like work stress, strained family relations, etc.
I’m with you. I understand.
“Whether you find yourself having a meltdown every day or once a year, you are not a monster. Sometimes those meltdowns are necessary. They get us back to our baseline, back to a quiet space where we can breathe, to a place where we know our needs and our feelings were heard and acknowledged. They remind our children that we are not perfect, that their conflicts can affect others deeply, and that adults struggle with big feelings, just as kids do. And if we are open to it, the aftermath of a meltdown can be a natural opportunity to reconnect with our loved ones, and to reaffirm how we all want to be treated.”(Source)
Always, always, these words from Romans 8 comfort me so. I hope it encourages you too, in your journey of parenthood – meltdowns and all.
If God is for us, who can ever be against us?
Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?
Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself.
Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?
No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I began this post wanting to share some handles that help me manage the stress of motherhood at least most of the time, but then I felt the need to share my own real experience first. So, I’ll leave that for another post, hopefully soon…