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Jen

Mommy Meltdown Just Could Be the Best Thing for Sibling Relations

Posted by Jen on April 29, 2009 at 12:07 AM in Jen
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wise guy part two

Last week, I completely lost my tenuous place in the Mother of the Year Award Competition by completely losing my cool with the two adorable children you see in the picture above. You'd think they were angels, really, from reading this blog, and if not that, you might think, at least that I'm a nice person. But, no, there was a meltdown and it wasn't the starving, sleep-deprived small people in my house. It was me.

I don't remember what set me off, but some chain reaction unleashed my inner martyr and I launched into one of those long speeches you remember from your own childhood--about the lack of appreciation, the absence of respect and how no one in this house has any idea what it's like to be around here.

It wasn't one of my better moments, let me tell you.

This mommy temper tantrum, however, had a hilarious affect on my two kids who only seconds before had been fighting like cats and dogs. Now, in the presence of Our Mother Who Is Clearly Losing Her Mind, they bonded together like children seeking shelter in wartime, whispering consolations to one other in tears.

At first, this development made me want to stop in my tracks. What? Suddenly you're not fighting anymore? What's wrong with this picture? But then I decided to rant another minute just for fun. My kids had not only a common cause but also an apparently stunning surplus of empathy--not for the mom in meltdown mode who really needed it--but for each other. Who knew. It was all I needed to make me feel much better once and for all.

How about you? Do you let your kids see your mommy meltdowns? Do you find your personal moments of frustration create more connection between your kids? Let me know how you deal with mommy meltdowns and the subsequent chaos in the comments below.

11 Comments

engagement rings writes...

The really sad part is many of these parents were never taught basic manners and have absolutely no clue how to go about teaching their little ones. Children live what they learn and if they are raised by rude, ignorant, socially inadequate parents they don’t have a chance.

Nice post Jen, I really can relate with you. I feel for you. Thanks for sharing.

Becky writes...

I think when the kids see us in our meltdown modes, it lets them know "hey, we're human too". I know the exact episode - we have had them. Then afterwards I'm thinking - who was that woman and what the heck happened! I usually take a moment to explain to them "you know, you guys lose it sometimes and so do moms - maybe we're tired, maybe we're hungry and sometimes we just don't know". They are then very understanding and comforting to me. I also tell them, if you ever see mommy going off the deep end - you can always say "mom, deep breaths deep breaths". That's kinda my que of "hey, your acting out of control". So far, none of them have had the nerve to say that to me but hey, I gave them the power to say it if they want. But tomorrow is always another day and a fresh start! I love the way your two came together for each other!

Eleanor writes...

First, I feel the need to apologize to you for laughing, even though you can't see me laughing :-) Granted, I am not laughing AT you, but I am laughing in total sympathy. I have SO been there. My kids are about the same ages as yours (girl - 11, boy - 8). They get along most of the time and the rest of the time they don't. But I have noticed that when I have a meltdown like you described, they huddle up and join forces together and suddenly the only enemy in the house is me (it's an adorable sight - sometimes tears are involved; usually lots of consoling and hugging). If it takes my having a minor mental breakdown for them to realize how much they need and love each other, I guess it's worth it. Sometimes I flash forward to the future and imagine them sitting together reminiscing and having a good ol' time at my expense. I hope they will have a bond like that as adults. I think that mostly they know that I am in their corners, but I'm really glad that sometimes they realize they have each other, too. Thanks for this post, Jen!

Jean (PBS Parents)? writes...

Hi everyone, for all you mommies (and daddies) facing meltdowns, we have a whole section here on PBS Parents that deals with meltdowns. It's part of the Talking with Kids area of the site. It includes advice on helping kids deal with angry feelings and tips on how to cope when you get angry. You migth want to check it out before you face your next meltdown!

Jen writes...

Yes they've seen many of my meltdowns. I have learned to count to 10 before speaking but when it gets bad, I put myself in timeout. That freaks my kids out!

Jen writes...

I appreciate the realness of your post. Because we all have those meltdown moments and don't you feel a little better knowing you aren't along...I do! THANKS

Charlotte writes...

I have 2 daughters ages 20 and 11. Due to the age gap they have never really been friends.....until I had a melt down. I couldn't believe it. For the first time they were talking to each other in a friendly way. If I would have know that's what it took for them to be friends, I would have had a melt down long ago. I also laughed when I read your story but only because I could relate. I thought this only happened because my girls are 9 yrs apart. It's nice to know this is common. I too am sure my girls will have many a good laugh at my expense when they are older, maybe in the therapist office. I figure I will get blamed for everything anyway so better I screw them up then someone else. Here's to the support of meltdowns. May they bring us all together.

~Monica writes...

It is NOT possible for your kids to be any more stunningly beautiful than they are in that photo. Seriously. Every time I see photos of them it takes my breath away.

GailNHB writes...

I do the lecture thing too, far more often than I'd like to admit. My children (15 year old daughter and 12 year old son) listen to my rant. They look at each other. They shrug and smile and get that "gotcha" look on their faces. Then they slink away together to hide. They lick their wounds together.

Later they often will come to me and hug me, tell me that they love me, and offer to do things to ease my pain. The last time that happened (a few weeks ago), my son made and gave me coupons for breakfast in bed and hours of solitude and cups of tea and that sort of thing. It was quite thoughtful. (I think I'll cash one of the coupons in tomorrow.)

I end up apologizing for my meltdown and explaining that I am human and that I need their help to remain strong and to not lose sight of my place in the world. I am not only a wife and mother. I am also a person with feelings and needs - and tantrums - of my own.

They really get it. Now they do. When they were younger, my son would cry and my daughter would comfort him, just as you described in your piece.

Great post.

Phone Franchise writes...

This is a wonderful post, thanks for sharing.

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