One dark and stormy night (oh, yes, I know that first line is overused), Jane (only an alias because none of us want to think we could be like this), lost it.
It had been an exceptionally trying day with her toddler, Terror (not his real name, but definitely the right name for that day). Everything he had touched got broken, spilled, or lost. Everything he had said all day was at maximum volume and with such urgency it couldn’t be ignored.
Jane, on the other hand, had tried every good parenting technique she had ever read about. When they all failed, she fell back on screaming back at him, trying to ignore his antics, and crying.
Jane had finally gotten Terror to bed and was just sitting down to a soothing cup of chamomile tea, when Terror called, “Mommy,” in a sweet, soft voice. Touched by the change in tone and volume, she decided to go see what he wanted. Surely, this would just take a moment.
“Mommy, I want some water.”
“OK, Honey, just a minute.” Off Jane trotted to the sink to get a glass of water.
Back by his bedside, “Here you are.”
Terror looked up and said, “I don’t want any water.”
Jane shrugged, she tucked Terror under his cover and said, “Good night. See you in the morning.”
She just picked up her cup of tea when she heard, “Mommy, I want some water.”
Annoyed, she got a glass of water and told Terror to drink up. He announced that he didn’t need any water.
She said, “Are you sure? I don’t want to hear you ask for water again.”
“No, I don’t want water,” he said firmly.
She went back to her now lukewarm chamomile; she collapsed on her sofa.
Not one minute later, “Mommy, I really do need water!”
She carried the water to the room. Looked at that smug little Terror. Held the glass over his head and baptized him!
When the screaming stopped, she didn’t even really mind remaking his bed and changing his clothes. She had had the last word!
When she got back to the living room, she began to weep, “I’m the most awful mother in the world!” Fortunately, her husband was there and on his best form. “You are the best mommy Teddy (his real name) could have! You have just had one of the worst days ever with him and you both survived! Tomorrow will be better. I love you. I love the mother you are to Teddy, and I’ll pray for you. God will give you the wisdom and the grace you need to be the best possible mommy for Teddy.”
What a guy! Sometimes a good husband is better than a whole pot of chamomile tea. And the next day was better.
Here are some things to think about:
Some days are just horrible days. Everything seems to go wrong. That’s life and everyone faces days like this sometimes.
Most children have bad days sometimes. Some have more than the average, but they are still normal.
Consider the cause:
- Is your child physically well? Sometimes teething, an ear ache, sore throat, or rash is really the cause of the bad behavior.
- Is there tension in the home? Contention between parents or other adults living with you will stir your child to be more troublesome than usual.
- Are you preoccupied? Some one-on-one attention with the trouble maker will reassure him that you still love him and are there for him.
Some ways to deal with your ‘Terror’:
One mother knew she was getting too angry at her misbehaving son. She needed a time out. She took him to his room (knowing he was safe there) and told him he must stay there until they both calmed down. This was not rejection or punishment; it was a wise way to prevent a punishment explosion.
One time a teething baby cried so much and nothing had worked. To get a break from the screaming, his mom put him in his crib, closed the door and turned up the music. After a while she was able to go back and try again to cuddle and console her hurting baby. Again, knowing her limits, she took care of herself too.
Some experts suggest that you should never let a child cry like that; others say that letting them cry, if there is no other serious problem causing their discomfort, can be the only thing you can do. In this mom’s case she made a decision that helped her and her baby.
Take advantage of times when someone else can watch your child for a while. Don’t use those times for chores. Do what will really rest and refresh you.
Having a confidante, prayer partner, or friend that you can confide your anger and frustration to can make all the difference.
Pay attention to what your husband says about the situation. Sometimes he can see a solution that you can’t because you are too close to the problem.
Be ready to encourage another mom you meet that is having a horrible, no good, awful day with her child. It will make you both feel better. Midnight baptisms do give way to sunny mornings.