I feel the need to write this down so that hopefully I’ll feel better afterwards. I have a knot of emotion in my chest and I need it to go away. Whilst it doesn’t feel as if the Black Dog is looming, I do feel as if I good cry is on the horizon.
The past month has been very tough. My PND relapse episode lasted a full fortnight and immediately afterwards followed two weeks of the usual childhood illnesses that come with winter time. I don’t recall my last good night’s sleep.
Now, even in writing this, I feel the need to apologise to the millions of other parents out there who have children who don’t sleep. It comes with the territory, I know. But it feels like I’m the only one staring at a computer screen on the verge of tears.
But then I remember that others don’t have the monopoly on exhaustion. I am entitled to feel how I do. I’m not alone in feeling this way. It’s OK not to feel OK sometimes, remember?
Sleep deprivation does magnify things, and when I’m feeling a bit emotionally fragile, this is even more apparent.
You see, Monkey has been behaving like a cross between a surly teenager and a Tasmanian devil for the past couple of weeks. It has been meltdown central in our house and I have heard lots of “I don’t like you, mummy. I don’t want you. Go away from me”. I do know these are not his true feelings. He is three and a half. I’m the one he runs to when he is sick or hurt and I know he loves me. But still, words like this cut like a knife to my heart.
I know that Monkey feeds off my energy and I’m pretty sure my energy has been off-kilter during the past month. What this boils down to is I feel his behaviour is my fault. But if my energy causes his meltdowns and his tantrums cause me to feel even worse, how will this stop? It’s a vicious cycle, surely?
There are lots of strategies I employ to cope with meltdowns. I like to lead by example by not shouting over him when he is losing it, as I don’t think that teaches anything. In fact I prefer to drop my voice very low when he is screaming and shouting. I try to head the tantrums off-at-the-pass if I can and will intervene if I see one coming. This often works. I also like to use humour to distract him from a diva strop, and I’ve been known to return from the shops on a make-believe broomstick to prevent an outburst. But sometimes nothing works. I guess sometimes he just behaves like a normal three and a half year old boy, who is recovering from a nasty virus and several nights of broken sleep.
Even in telling you these tricks and strategies I realise that I am trying to prove something. I am trying to show you, dear readers, and remind myself, that I am a conscientious parent. I’m demonstrating that I am not a bad mum. That I’m not modelling aggressive behaviour and in doing so creating a future menace to society.
I’m trying to tell myself that my own struggles are not damaging my child.
I don’t think there is a parent in the world who has not had to deal with a meltdown from their child. I know that it is normal, developmental behaviour. I also know lots of parents of children with special needs who cope with far more difficult situations and make it look easy.
I suppose what I really need to do is read back through my previous posts, have a word with myself, take some of my own advice and practice what I preach. So here goes…
“I will be true and authentic and not pretend all is perfect at all times”. Check.
“I will always remember that I’m the best mum for my children, that I know them better than anyone else. I will discount any thoughts that suggest otherwise”. Hmmm. Perhaps I need to read this one a few more times.
“I will remember that it’s OK not to be OK sometimes”. Yes.
“I will be kind to myself.” Easier said than done, though, isn’t it?