We recently took a much needed vacation to the Smoky Mountains for a week. Apart from the heat, the noisy neighbors and the lack of sleep, it was a peaceful relaxing week. Well, all except for the toddler tantrums.
We left on a Saturday morning, made the 5-hour drive, and had a pretty splendid first two days enjoying the attractions and food. Then, Monday happened. Inside of 2 hours, Little Lady A threw no less than 10…T-E-N!…tantrums and ended up in time out three times. As soon as she would calm down from one the next would bubble up, and I was so over it.
There was yelling (on both our parts), and discipline, and then eventually Mommy melted down and had to take some time to herself (after blowing up at Daddy, who was really just trying to help). When all was said and done the whole afternoon was a complete wash and I was left feeling like maybe vacation and a departure from her routine wasn’t such a good idea after all.
On Tuesday, the unthinkable happened. Little Lady A has a wooden Melissa and Doug bear puzzle with interchangeable faces and outfits. Each of the faces displays a different emotion. [You can see where this is going, can’t you?] While she played in the condo on Tuesday she picked up the angry bear face, held it up, and loudly and proudly declared, “Look! It’s Mommy!”
She couldn’t have cut me deeper if she had deliberately tried. And, to make matters worse, she did the same thing with the angry bear face for several days afterward every time she saw it. How heartbreaking to think that my child associated me with ANGER!
Young mommy friends, take heart! Before vacation was over she had decided the angry face was actually Daddy and I stopped stressing about it. It’s so hard in the moment to not beat yourself up when you lose your temper with your child. I have to try to remind myself that she is very young, very resilient, and that at the end of the day the best I can do for her is to show her love and grace–to try my level best to live out Christ’s love, and to show her (even at this young age) that I sometimes make mistakes in how I handle things. I apologize to her and I (try to) shake it off, because that’s exactly what I would want her to do in the same situation.
I’m praying for all my mommy friends who are struggling with frustration today. It’s OK, Mama…go easy on yourself and revel in God’s grace, even when you totally blow it and lose your temper. Our children are watching us and they can learn just as much from our failures as from our victories!