It’s one of those days. I sigh as I watch my toddler have her third knock-down-drag-out meltdown temper tantrum of the day, and it’s only 9:00 in the morning. ‘What is it this time?’ I wonder as I ask her what is wrong. Turns out she wanted the blue sippy cup not the red one. ‘Oh. My. Gosh. What the heck is wrong with this kid?!’ I think as I walk away. Before I can collect my thoughts the infant falls and busts her lip on a wooden block. Suddenly I’m trying to comfort her while listening to screaming in stereo as I get hit in the back with my toddler’s launched sippy cup. I turn around and yell at her for throwing her cup and watch her fall apart into an all new level of screaming. Then she throws herself on the floor for tantrum round four.
I stand there, completely stressed out, everyone is crying, all I want to do is cry too, and then the dog starts barking.
Pause this scene.
So many times I’ve yelled back at her in my frustration. And, I feel bad afterwards, but honestly, no matter how great of a parent you are, everyone has moments where all you want to do is scream. The children are taking all of their anger and frustration out on you, so you want to lash out as well. And then a thought occurred to me.
Pain is relative. It’s all about your basis for comparison.
As an adult, I’ve lived life for a bit longer than my toddler. I’ve lived through varying degrees of happiness and pain. I’ve experienced loss of varying kinds. Loss of a loved one, near loss of a loved one. Most adults have experienced some form of suffering. So, I look at my kids when they’re throwing a fit over the most ridiculously mundane thing and get frustrated.
Resume scene. I want to yell at her some more for acting out. I recognize my frustration and then I pause. I let the dog out while I breathe in and out slowly a few times to collect myself. I stop and realize this moment may be one of the worst things she has had to deal with in her whole life. And, for that, I am grateful.
I let her cry while I tend to the infant. Once I’ve got the infant calmed down and cleaned up, I kneel down to talk to my toddler and say five little words my grandma taught me, “Do you need a hug?” She takes me up on my offer and we hug it out. I explain that it’s okay to be frustrated, but not okay to throw things at mommy.
Sometimes, when all I want to do is scream back at her, I just need a little reminder to shift my focus back to what matters. Back to a place of love and compassion rather than anger and frustration. After all, I know I will have days when I get upset, and yet, there is so much of this life that is still so good. I know there will be days I will lose my temper, but rather than lash out, I try and remember to say these five little words my grandma taught me, “Do you need a hug?”
I’d love to hear from you. Share in the comments of a time you shifted your perspective to change your response to a frustrating situation.
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