Updated: Apr 6, 2020
You might have thought from the title that I was referring to your infant/toddler/child. Kaore, it can mean you too. The entire whānau can be propelled into this state within an instant. If I haven't mentioned before, being a māmā is HARD! Sometimes your emotions get the better of you, that's a part of being human. It doesn't mean you suck, you just have to pick yourself up and try again. I think the saying involves trying again tomorrow but you don't actually have to wait that long. We take things minute by minute rather than day by day.
The first draft of this post came mid one of our tantrums, tears and general grumpy moments - thank goodness I was able to pull myself together, write the important emotions and come back to it with a more level head later or this could have been an absolute mess.
So what happens to tear a māmā down to tears from her usual goofy, calm, organised and loving self? On this particular occasion it was 6pm. The previous night had involved Dad sleeping in the other room with broken ribs, baby waking up every 2 hours on the dot, and taking between 45 mins to an hour to put back down each time. Add to that teething, sore nipples from teething pains being taken out on them, immunisation day, progress picture day, work stress for both mum and dad, and dad getting his 3rd laughing session of the day while mum hasn’t had any laughter in what feels like at least a week. Sounds like a recipe for disaster and only now as I write all of this am I realising that obviously there had to be a tipping point. Hindsight is a lovely thing.
This particular explosion came with lots of tears from both māmā and pēpi (he started it), and ended with a walk out by mum (a safe one of course). It was at least the 5th cry in less than an hour. By cry I mean scream that made him all red, sweaty, spluttery and unable to be calmed down in any other way than with a boob.
Even though I had calmed him all 4 other times along with the other 20+ times throughout the day the final straw was because I felt inadequate, like I hadn’t been successful in calming him because he hadn’t stayed calm for more than 20 minutes and if he had it was to give Dad laughs which to my warped, tired and frustrated mind obviously meant he didn’t love me or need me and that he would be far better off with Dad. It's crazy what our emotions will have us think.
As I picked up my keys my partner knew I was at my tipping point and didn't say anything other than to tell me to take my phone with me. As soon as I got to the car I burst into tears. I pulled away from the driveway with no real place to go, knowing that a trip around the block was all I really needed. I was gone less than 10 minutes and my son had even stopped crying by the time I walked back in the door. That small amount of space from our tantrums allowed me to come back in, kiss my son, and return to normal life. It was enough to make me realise the stress I was feeling and schedule some time out to move my body and get my endorphins going the next day. This allowed me some "me" time to process my emotions fully and make me more emotionally available for my whānau.
Don't beat yourself up about a bad day or a bad 5 minutes. All we can ever do is learn from our behaviours and do better next time. You got this māmā!
*Disclaimer: Picture used not from actual tantrum, he just looked cute with his little bottom lip out.