Meltdown Mama


Whenever it happens I get tense, I grind my teeth and feel a sense of fear and anger build up. It’s the screaming and crying. That sound just seems to set me in a whirlwind of emotions that are anything but what – or how, a mom should respond. It’s panic mode. I feel the sense that I’m loosing control and in order to get it back, what do I do; I yell. I scream. I shout. I do anything and everything that will only make it worse. In the time of chaos I can’t think straight. I can’t rationalize the situation, let alone figure out how to make it right. I’m only focused on what I want and not the kids. It’s so hard and every time it’s over I’m so upset with how I reacted. How is this happening? I lose it so quickly with my kids but I used to manage a large staff under high stress all the time!

My 2.5 year old was screaming before bed and just having a tough time, nothing words could say would calm her down. Was she being bad? No, but she was having a tough time and needed me. I was in the middle of trying my best at getting my 6 week old, crying baby to sleep. What do I do? How do I handle her meltdown when I’m in the middle of another meltdown? Now I’m going to have a meltdown!

I was home alone and the crying was just getting louder by the minute. Both were crying, but who do I help first, how do I make them stop?! This time, before my mind went to panic mode and I lost control, I remembered something that helped me put it all into prospective. It helped me take myself and what I was feeling – or more how it was making me react – out of the equation. Prior to the chaos, it is what my oldest daughter said to me that really put me in check and helped me realize I needed to change my way of thinking. Earlier that night, I told her our 6 week old baby was good because he wasn’t crying and she said, “even if he was crying he would still be a good baby.”

My daughter is 5, and I just thought, wow, she is so right and how wrong am I to think or even say he is good because he isn’t crying. And that’s when I realized I’m going about these tantrums and screaming moments all wrong. They’re having a hard time and I need to help them through it. It’s not about me. I can’t control how they’re feeling and that’s ok. But I can control how I react. And immediately I knew what I had to do. I put my six week old down, in a safe place. And picked up my 2.5 year old. I held her and said, “I’m here. I love you.” And in a matter of a minute she calmed down. I kissed her and said, “I’ve got to help your brother now, ok?” And I picked him up and calmed him down. Yes it took him a few minutes, but I knew if I didn’t tend to my middle child that it would have escalated quick. She just needed to know I was there.

Now how I would have reacted was totally different. Normally, I would have sounded mean because I was stressed out and yelled for her to calm down. Which obviously wouldn’t have worked and I’m sure we all would have ended up crying even longer. But not this time. This time after I calmed her down then she was there with me calming the newborn down.

We all might need some help, we all go through feelings. None of them make us bad or good. That was something I needed to hear. How proud am I that my oldest child knew that? I had to thank her, and again the next day, and tell her how right she is, that showing our feelings does not make us bad or good and I would stop saying that. I think that phrase needs to go and I’ll really need to be mindful to never say that again about anyone in our family. I read all these parental guidance guides for positive parenting and then when I need it most I say the wrong thing and act the wrong way. How do I change this behavior, how do I make it right? Some nights I feel like I really messed up. But you know what tonight was a test and I finally tried to be better. Controlling everyone’s emotions is not my job. But letting my children know I’m there, and showing them I’m there, is my job.

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Erin is a mom of two beautiful little girls and a brand new baby boy. She has a bachelor's degree in Business Marketing from San Francisco State, and her career as a VP of Operations for a cosmetics company was her game for a long time. But once she became a mom everything changed, she wanted life to slow down and focus her energy on raising her children. She is fortunate to be married to a wonderful husband who is a frontline hero, Respiratory Therapist, at Kaiser. Being a stay-at-home mom has been such an incredible journey and she enjoys life’s great adventures. Erin enjoys reading, working out, being a foodie, crafting, and always a good laugh.


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