I said I wanted to tell the truth so I’m not going to shy away from it now. I did think about not posting this, but it feels important. Telling the truth, not hiding it or glossing it over or pretending it never happened, feels important.
I had a total insane meltdown today. I hate it when I have these moments. The only thing I’m grateful for is that it doesn’t happen more often. Right now, I don’t want to explain, rationalise, justify or analyse. Right now, I just need to say that I got so angry and frustrated that I screamed, shouted, swore, threw shoes, an open water bottle and my glasses. All in front of Jake. But that wasn’t enough, so I slapped myself in the face, hard, three times. It wasn’t enough so I did it three more times. That still wasn’t enough so I grabbed one of the wooden rails from Jake’s train set and smashed it four times on the bony part of my foot. That was enough. That made me calm the fuck down like a bucket of ice down my throat. And then it made me wonder what the fuck is wrong with me.
It started in the middle of Jake’s tantrum. Almost every week he has a tantrum when I bring him home from the playground. Sometimes, I handle it fine. I let him scream, I carry him upstairs, I just let him be till he calms down. Sometimes I walk him around the neighbourhood in his pram till he falls asleep. That is if I’m not too hungry / tired / hot, or if he isn’t already screaming to begin with. Sometimes I bribe him. Icecream or Wotsits and promises of Mr Tumble. Other times, well. Other times it just gets out of hand.
He’d been at nursery all morning and playing in the hot sun for two hours so he was tired – really tired. So was I. But it was clearly more than tiredness. When his tantrum started, I tried my best to stay quiet and calm. Then he started screaming at every little thing I did.
I took my shoes off and he screamed, grabbing the shoes and wanting me to put them back on. When I didn’t, he grabbed them and threw them down the stairs. So I walked away. I took a sip of water from a bottle and put it on the table. He screamed at me to give him the water bottle, so I did. He screamed at me to open it, but I didn’t want to because I knew he’d spill it. So I said no. He continued to scream. I continued to say no. It eventually ended up with me screaming no because he wasn’t having it. Then he threw the bottle on the carpet and the top came off and half of the water poured out. I picked up a cloth to mop it up and he screamed about that too. He threw himself on the cloth and picked it up and held it to his chest. Then he grabbed the open water bottle and tried to drink from it but he was so furious that he was shaking and he spilled it all over himself. I knew that if I tried to change him, he’d have a fit. So I picked up the water bottle, and you guessed it, he screamed again. So I threw the damn thing across the floor till all the water came out.
Then I threw a pair of shoes down the stairs cos by this point I’d had enough and I was screaming that I’d had enough, that I was sick of going through this every week and if he didn’t stop, I would never take him out again. Wonderful logic that he, of course, didn’t understand. He simply continued to scream and cry. Then I screamed to try and drown out his screaming but it didn’t work. So I stopped and threw my glasses on the table and rubbed my eyes. Screaming “No!” and sobbing, Jake ran to the table, grabbed my glasses and tried to put them back on my face. His little hands were shaking, he was sobbing so hard. I looked at him standing there, eyes red, tears down his cheeks, soaking wet, holding a damp cloth to his chest. I desperately wanted it all to stop so I could just cuddle him. Maybe that’s what I should have done. But instead, I told him I was going to change him and he screamed and screamed and screamed.
I changed him anyway. I picked him up and put him on the mat and he struggled and I got his wet clothes off as best as I could. While I changed his nappy he kicked and sobbed great heaving sobs and screamed and screamed and screamed.
It was at this point that I slapped myself. I wanted so much to break something, to do something drastic, smash a window, throw myself out a window, something big to make it all stop. I couldn’t do those things so I slapped myself. It wasn’t enough. I slapped myself again and said out loud, though I’m not sure to whom, “Is this what you want?!” All I could think was what a worthless human being I was, an awful mother to be doing this in front of Jake, fucked up and my worst nightmare – just like my own mother. My raging, out of control mother who was angry during most of my childhood. A mother I grew up being wary of, afraid of, desperately wanting to escape from. When I became a mother myself, I did become more sympathetic to her, but I still, desperately don’t want to be her.
We both calmed down eventually. He started signing frantically for Mr Tumble so I put Something Special on. Within a few moments, it was like it never happened - at least for him. I’m still in shock. He began talking about what was going on in the programme, looking at me, smiling. I want to hope that he’ll forget this. But it will be stored somewhere. The physicality of the emotion, the anger, the fear. His body will remember it even if his mind doesn’t. It all gets stored up, like rings in a tree trunk. My best hope is that the good moments outweigh the bad ones. That he’ll grow up trusting that we are more good than bad. That is something I might be able to manage.
After a while, he let me put him in my lap and we watched TV together. I knew that I needed to get him down for his nap, but I also knew I couldn’t push it or it could happen all over again. So we stayed where we were a little while longer.