Where have I been, you may be asking? Two days ago, the answer would’ve been…”the insane asylum” or “the loony bin” or “off the deep edge” or “hiding under a rock hoping my kids don’t find me…until they’re like 20”.
Truth is, I was living through a week of single-parenting while my husband was in WA for business. He has traveled several times in the past 2-3 months, but usually only for the weekend. A few days alone with the boys is manageable; it’s always right around day 3 when I start to come undone. This was a 6 day trip and while I thought I was prepared enough for the challenging week that lay ahead of me, many surprising “events” took the wind right out of my Mommy sails.
I’m hoping to reflect on this with a bit of humor and some light, because I say this with utmost seriousness…it was a really dark, difficult and pretty horrible week. I can look back on it now and clearly see all the signs, I can understand the motives, and sympathize with the emotions of my 4 yr old little boy. However, I didn’t deal with all the nastiness that went down with much grace or mindfulness as a Mommy. I often dealt with my child’s bad behavior with my own bad behavior…flying off the handle and screaming back. I’m fairly certain my head disengaged from the rest of my body, as steam flew out of my ears, sending it up into the stratosphere where it flew around the sun several times before finding its way back to my body.
It started on the day Michael left, with Levi flying into a fit of rage because he didn’t want Daddy to go…flailing, kicking, screaming and hitting me, which he’s never really done before. This being the first day of my week, I was pretty calm and collected. I sat with him until he got control of himself and let him tell me on his own that he was sad because he didn’t want to Daddy to leave. I told him that I understood completely and that I didn’t want Daddy to leave either, but that it’s not OK to hit Mommy. He said he was sorry and went on his way.
The rest of the week was pretty much a blur to be honest. And I don’t need to rehash every incident that took me (and him) to the dark side…it’s more about seeing the whole week as one big sign. It’s so obvious to me now that my boy is going through some changes and when his routine, his rhythm, his safety net feels compromised, he reacts in the only way he knows how to right now…throwing a gigantic temper tantrum and lashing out. Added into this chaos is the fact that both of the boys do not sleep well AT ALL when Daddy is gone. Calvin, who still, at 18 months, wakes up 2-3 times at night, woke up some nights every 2 hours. Levi who normally goes to bed at 8 wouldn’t fall asleep until 9 or 9:30 and only if I was laying next to him. 3o minutes later Calvin would be crying…and so was I.
Now it doesn’t exactly help that I was with both of these boys by myself 24/7 for this whole time…that certainly was not the right way to approach the week. I should’ve sought out some helping hands, I know. And it surely was not beneficial to them that my hormones were a bit…ahem, imbalanced (to put it nicely). I went to bed feeling like a failure every night because I spent most of our days being angry and short tempered with my crazed 4 yr old. I cried a lot. I called Michael at night and rehashed the battles of the day. I tried to do yoga, but I was too exhausted. I tried to crochet, but I’d get as far as pulling out the yarn and hook. I tried to write on this space but my brain was too jumbled to put my thoughts into words…and the words I would’ve used would have just been “*%&*#*”. I read in a parenting book how to approach all of the changes Levi is going through, but by the next day the words had escaped my brain and I forgot what I was supposed to try to do.
Then a wonderful thing happened…Daddy came home. And just like that, I found my Mommy self again…the one I know, the one I trust, the one who is not perfect but is certainly much better of a parent when her partner is home, and she’s able to sleep more than 4 hours a night. The growing pains that my little man is experiencing are founded mostly in a feeling of instability. He needs and craves the boundaries that we set out for him, but when that harmony is disrupted and there is an imbalance in the parenting dynamic, he comes undone. I know exactly how he feels.
Many times this week, while I was lying in bed with him, he would talk to me and tell me what he was feeling…sad because Daddy is gone or mad because Calvin breaks his buildings down. He would throw his arm over my chest and snuggle in close and whisper in my ear, “I’m sorry, Mommy. I love you.” And I would lay there, soaking in the love but then also slapping my forehead at how simple it really is…he just wants to feel loved and secure. Don’t we all…