Tantrums: The Breakdown

Temper tantrums. Everyone has them…babies, teenagers, adults, the elderly, you name it! They come in different forms and various terms (frustration fits, temper tantrums, toddler tantrums, hissy fits, crying fit, conniption fits, nervous breakdown, meltdowns, the list goes on), but it all usually comes down to the same thing: I am frustrated, I am angry and I am expressing my frustration and anger. While this is not the case for every individual (some tantrums are the result of medical illnesses, etc.), I am speaking generally and in ‘tantrum slang format’ (i.e. using the word tantrum to encompass all levels of anger and frustration expressions with regards to children) which I realize is not medically correct, but I’m not a doctor so let’s continue!

This is my daughter’s face after a crying fit in her high chair. As you can see, she’s clearly still upset to which I snapped this picture then immediately comforted her (I know, bad parenting on the picture part!). I am told by the pediatrician that this is the age when babies will express their distress or frustration based on the situation. These can be called ‘frustration fits’ but I know that many people interchangeably use ‘temper tantrums’ or ‘complete meltdowns’ despite the child’s age (as I am doing here).

So, why was she upset? Well, she couldn’t get the puffs in her mouth. She got a few on her own so I stopped putting them in her mouth for her. Once she couldn’t get the others in she started crying, then arching her back moving up and down and then yelling (yes, all while strapped into her high chair). I gave in and fed them to her. She still cried. It was time for her nap so I put her down. She cried some more. She fell asleep ten minutes later which is a new record from the time it usually takes her to go down these days (about 30 minutes!) and I fell on the couch in my own distress. I think she was just overly tired…or maybe she wasn’t…maybe she was just having a tantrum.

I know she is technically ‘too young’ to be having an actual temper tantrum (they say it doesn’t really happen until they’re around one years old) but whatever this expression of dislike is, I DISLIKE IT! If she doesn’t like something she will let you know. She will move and kick and arch her back and cry and yell. She will literally THROW A FIT (and a few toys). My husband says “she’s definitely your daughter.” I thank him for the compliment with my go-fly-a-kite grin. It’s not my favorite phase that she’s going through, but it’s all part of her learning, growing and coming into her own.

In the moment, tantrums are the worst. I actually want to start having one of my own when she is! But then I have to stop and think, this poor little peanut, she can’t communicate any other way. She can’t talk to me and tell me what’s wrong or why she’s upset…this is all she can do. She is a baby. She has off days. She gets frustrated and angry just like everyone else does. She is human. And what am I? I am her mother. I am here to comfort and console her, to guide and nurture her. Sure, I am also here to discipline and teach her, but above all, I am here to love her. I am here to give her all the love that she needs.

In this moment, this tantrum-fitting moment, I am not here to judge, to get frustrated with, to get angry at, to get annoyed over or any other part of me that wants nothing more than to pull my hair out and have a large glass of wine (you know, that whole bottle in one glass kind). I am here to be her mother, and that means unconditional love, support, compassion and understanding. We may not have these unconditionals for many people in our lives, but we must have them for our kids. We must. Because if we don’t, who else will? Who else will give them all they need to survive in this world? To be raised right in this world? To truly understand what it means to be loved in this world?

She had a ‘temper tantrum’…and you know what I did (yes, I took a picture, but after that!)? I loved her. I loved her and I hugged her and I told her it was going to be okay. She squirmed and she cried but I still gave her my love because sometimes, no matter how old we may be, love is all we need. We all have tantrums, we all break down at one point or another, and when we do, it’s nice to know you have one person who will always be there to love you. I hope my daughter knows she forever has me.

If Only…

We live in a world of hurry. We want everything yesterday, five minutes is an eternity, waiting is should be outlawed and time is money. If only we could see the other side. The side where the thought of waiting leads something beautiful like the miraculous birth of a child or the moment when no amount of money could replace time with a dying loved one.

But we’re too much in a hurry. We’re too driven by our own needs for immediacy. Life can change in the blink of an eye and in those moments we question ‘why’, we are not prepared and we don’t understand yet we expect those instantaneous results in almost every other aspect of our lives…

The other day I ran into the post office to mail something. It was my day off and one of those 50-degree Michigan afternoons. I figured it wouldn’t be too busy and I could run in and out without having to lug my sleeping daughter in the car seat. I was first in line with one woman working and an elderly lady just finishing up. I figured this would be less than two minutes until the elderly woman after paying stayed to talk to the post office clerk. I almost lost my mind! There are people lined up behind me now. Do I just leave? Do I go up because she is finished? Do I tell the lady I’m in a hurry? I started tapping my foot I was so frustrated. It was only a few minutes but it felt like an eternity.

It wasn’t until I got into my car where my angel was still perfectly sleeping when it hit me. Maybe that is the only interaction this woman will have today. Maybe she enjoys her trips and talks at the post office because it’s the only time she can get out. Maybe she just wants to be heard. If only I could have been more understanding. If only I could have thought about her instead of myself.  If only…

I read this beautiful email forward my mom passed along and it bought me to tears. I hope you read it. If only we could have the love and compassion for life the way this little boy did. Can we? Can we all just stop being in such a hurry?

I don’t know. I truly don’t. We have been trained, maybe even a little brainwashed if you will, to rush and to be rushed. We have things like flash sales (buy me now before I’m gone!), instant coffee, fast food (the name alone says it all), rush delivery, and the fast lane (for driving purposes). We are bombarded with hurrying!

For most of my life I lived in a hurry. I didn’t have time or the patience. I rushed as often and as much as I could. I wish that I didn’t. Life is a learning experience and that’s one I’ve definitely changed. People felt my need to hurry. I hurt people in the process. I was constantly ‘rushing’ and never had the time.

If only I knew then what I know now. If only I could see how precious and beautiful waiting is. I waited for my husband. I waited through bad relationships and lots of broken hearts. I waited impatiently. And then, I gave it up to God and He gave me my husband. I thank God for him each day and for showing me the reason why I needed  to wait…it was for him. I waited 27 hours to meet my daughter. I waited that long to find out my baby was a she! I waited in pain and discomfort and at moments in fear, but the minute I saw her, I forgot about it all. She is everything to me and worth all of the waiting and more!

I bet any of you would wait patiently if you could see someone who is no longer here…someone who has left this life already. If you were told you have five minutes and all you have to do is wait you would. And you wouldn’t complain or huff and puff. You would be filled with joy of that moment to come. You might be overwhelmed with love and maybe even a little worry. But you would wait…wouldn’t you?

If only we could have that kind of patience with everything we do. If only we could stop being in such a hurry. Today I looked at pictures of my daughter when she was first born (pictured above) and thought to myself, ‘if only you were that little again’. If you’ve ever stayed up late and seen one of those infomercials to buy whatever it is they’re selling at the end the voiceover comes on and says “Why wait? Act now!” and then continues on with what you get for purchasing at that exact moment. So why wait? Why not?!

Life is full of unexpected and beautiful surprises. If only we could all just be in less of a hurry to experience them.

We Bought A Zoo!

Well, it’s official…WE BOUGHT A ZOO! Just kidding, but ever since that movie I envisioned myself saying the phrase when we eventually did buy a home. Ironically, I looked at the home first without my husband (something with work came up and I had to go solo) and texted him ‘We bought a zoo!’ because I fell in love with it. We went to see the house together the next day, put an offer in and we got it! This is our new home. For the first time, my husband and I are homeowners together. I stress the together because I moved into his home when we got married and even though I added my own personal touches to it, I never really felt like I could call it mine. It feels great to be able to say that now!

While this is an exciting time for us, I also feel like it is one of the most stressful. The mortgage process alone was enough to make you go completely crazy. I felt like our bank accounts were being monitored by the FBI! “Everything needs documentation” is all I kept hearing. It went so far as having to explain check deposits from family that were Christmas gifts! On top of our own pressures at work, we are juggling parenting, packing, figuring out our finances, trying to get quotes for renovations at a home we don’t even have keys to yet, picking out furniture, paint colors, decor and all the things needed for our new home as well as the challenges of everyday life! I know these are all things people go through. This is the change that forces us to adjust. It forces you to either come together as a couple and make decisions or cause endless amounts of arguing. We have mostly come together but at times we have come apart…

Life can be stressful, especially when you throw a million other things into the mix. But what’s great about life is the adventure. Every day is a new day and you decide how you want it to go. Sure, there are things that impact your day which are out of your control, but some that are not. I have little patience when driving and get quickly irritated by other drivers but then I think about the precious life in my backseat. Is it worth her safety? Never. Is it worth me getting worked up about? Absolutely not. No one but you should determine the mood of your day. You make the decision to be angry and frustrating or patient and compassionate. It’s easy to get angry, say hurtful words and become frustrated. It’s much harder to stay calm, choose your words carefully and become more understanding. At least, it is for me…

So while my husband and I might not agree on all the decor in the house, we bought this house together and just like in marriage, there will be a lot of compromising! We are blessed to be moving into an amazing home that we’ll raise our growing family in. If there’s one thing I learned through the whole process it’s not to sweat the small stuff. In the grand scheme of things, being happy isn’t about the perfect paint color or that amazing couch from Restoration Hardware, it’s about being thankful for what you have. Life is a blessing, try not to let the stressful moments of it take away from that. And if you haven’t seen ‘We Bought A Zoo’, I suggest you watch it, super cute movie!

Time…What Time?!

The other day my mom was asking me if I was reading the “What To Expect the First Year” book she got me regarding what your baby is doing for the first year of their life by months (written by doctors). I said no and sounding a little shocked and in her mothering tone she replied, “Well you should, it will help you to know what’s going on.” “I know, I’ll work on that with all of my spare time,” I said sarcastically. We both laughed but the more I thought it, the more frustrated I got. What time do I really have anymore?

I’m lucky I’m able to get any time in to write this blog! How can you find any time in the day to do all the things you need (and want) to get done? When I became a mom, I lost almost all of my ‘me’ time. Sure, I tried hard to make some but any ‘me’ time I got usually ended up being going solo to get groceries or run any other errands while my husband stayed home with our daughter. It wasn’t like I was going to the spa or shopping for shoes. Yes, I can and could still do those things but it really comes down to finding the time.

Then that’s when I realized your time is really about your priorities. I base my time on things that need to be done. When I’m home with my daughter she is my number one priority. All of my time is devoted to her. Sure, I make dinner and get some laundry done (hers is first) if I can, but everything else can really wait. There’s some days home with her when I don’t get to shower until the late afternoon because there is no time, she is consuming all of it. I am okay with that because this is the job I signed up for. I decided to become a mom and take on those responsibilities. It’s like that saying how we always want more time when we don’t have it, and when we have it we don’t need it (my best example here is arriving extra early for appointments, it’s extra time I don’t need because they never take you in early anyways!).

So, what time do I really have? Do any of us really have? Well, we have the time to enjoy life, to love and be loved, to watch our children grow (despite how much we want to slow that time down), to travel, to find passion in new adventures and hobbies, to spend time with the elderly and listen about the experiences throughout their lifetime, time to fulfill our dreams and accomplish our goals, to make mistakes and learn from them, to forgive and be forgiven, time to move on, time to heal, to smile, to laugh, to drink and be merry….

Our time is precious and it’s special to each one of us…and doesn’t last forever, so use your time wisely. I may not have time to read all the baby books I would like but I have time with my daughter and for me, that is the best way to spend my time!

Managing Stress.

I don’t manage stress well. I think everyone in my life knows that. I go into a panic mode, feeling like I’m on the verge of a nervous breakdown and could cry at any second. I love this picture above because I think it perfectly depicts my face on a daily basis…you want me to do what now?

Yes, I’m an awesome multitasker and say that proudly, but when it comes to handling stressful situations, I suck. For instance, my daughter’s freak tooth accident, I cried more than she did and was sick to my stomach for days. DAYS!!! But to be fair, it’s really impacted her daily activities from eating (only solids, no sharing of ‘our’ food which she loves doing now) to playing (no toys in her mouth which she also loves mostly because she’s teething). She was also in a good amount of pain which has gotten better, but still broke my heart because there was nothing I could really do.

So, how do you manage stress? Well, I’m definitely the wrong person to ask! I manage stress the way I manage money…I don’t! I have been trying to find healthy outlets for my stress but I usually just end up eating chocolate or chips and having a good amount of wine (lately it’s been my new obsession, hard cider!). While I think it’s important to treat yourself every once in a while, I don’t think making this a daily habit is going to help me in the long run.

After taking some time to think about it, I realize my stress comes from two places: fear and love. I fear the unknown and things I cannot control. I fear life without to-do lists, organization and plans. I am not a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants person and never will be. I thrive on order and prioritizing. The second part of my stress is love. The love I have for God, my daughter, my husband, my family and even myself. Sometimes I don’t have enough love in these areas and sometimes I have too much. Sometimes I become needy and insecure, or sometimes I become distant and unsure. While my stresses continue, both are driven by these factors which seem so opposite but really are quite similar.

Both are motivators. We do things out of fear and out of love. They drive to do better, be better and try harder. Both are destructive. We can let fear and love control us. They can cause blind decision making. They can destroy our self confidence and self worth. Both are consuming. We can become so wrapped up in our love or our fears that we lose ourselves. But most importantly, both are feelings that can be controlled. We can control what we chose to fear as well as what and whom we chose to love. While we don’t have the power to control our lives, we do have the power to control our feelings.

I probably stress out about something on a daily basis. Lately, it’s been about 10 things a day. I realize this isn’t a good way to be so I’m working on it. Aren’t we all a work in progress anyway? Currently, the box checked for my stress management is ‘needs improvement’, but I hope in the near future it moves to ‘satisfactory’ and maybe even one day ‘exceeding expectations’!