Here I lay at 11:00 PM in my bed sobbing. I had gobs of soggy tissues on top of me and laying all around me on the bed. It was the night before Christmas Eve, which is supposed to be such a joyful time of year and I was feeling extremely un-jolly and grinchy. Let me tell you, I was a pretty pitiful sight. After who knows how long, my seven-year-old daughter Shay tip-toed in. I felt a hand on me, and she whispered: “Mommy, can I come snuggle with you so you’re not sad anymore?” which about made my heart burst from my chest.
A Familiar Feeling
Backtracking just a little bit, to two weeks ago. The very same daughter who turned seven on December 10, started acting not herself. That entire week she kept having these spectacular meltdowns which nothing and no one could pull her out of. They would last anywhere from minutes to over an hour. I was becoming increasingly frustrated with her, and myself because it seemed anything I tried was not only not helping her but making things worse. To top it all off, my anxiety would go through the roof when she would get into this state, so I would just me a mess too and end up yelling and feeling terrible, and going to bed just feeling defeated. As I lay in bed one night thinking about her, this lightbulb suddenly went off, and I realized that she was displaying symptoms of anxiety. I was so mad at myself for not realizing this sooner since I have anxiety! After scouring the internet in the wee hours of the morning, I was positive that was what she was suffering from.
The next day, when she once again had a meltdown, this time which was triggered by pain when she scraped her side, I tried to use some of my methods I have learned to help me calm myself down. I picked out one of her favorite stuffed dogs, (named Ollie after my sister and her boyfriend’s real life dog), to become her breathing buddy. The idea is to have her place him on her belly and take big deep breaths. When she sees him moving up and down she knows she’s doing it right. My heart was in the right place, but it didn’t work, and she just became more irritated and upset. It seriously just crushed me. I even have anxiety myself, so I should be the one to know how to help, and I felt helpless. Every night I would just feel defeated about it.
Thankfully, she was already scheduled for her seven-year check-up, so I talked in-depth to our pediatrician about what was going on. We have known him since I was pregnant with Calvin and chose him to be our kids doctor, so it’s been almost a ten-year relationship. He confirmed my suspicions and said all her syptoms are classics signs of anxiety in kids. So, he scheduled her an evaluation with their in-office psychologist in January, (which she is doing free of charge and this no insurance Momma is SO grateful), and she will hopefully be able to shed some more light on what type of treatment will help Shay.
The Naughty List
I was so relieved, and thought that we would be able to skip on into Christmas now arm in arm, singing carols and sipping hot chocolate together like the picture perfect Rockwell painting. Unfortunately, it was not to be so.
About six years ago I got one of those Elf On the Shelf dolls to try and help Calvin be good during the month of December leading up to Chrismas. If you’re not familiar with this concept, the Elf comes from the North Pole every December 1st, and leaves the night of Christmas Eve. He or she moves every night to a new spot, but is always watching the kids and reporting back to Santa if they are being naughty or nice. Calvin named him Thomas, since he was going through a Thomas the Train stage at that time.
This year, my kids could not give a rat’s patootie about that damn elf on the shelf. I’m not sure if it’s just something in the air, or if my kids are just possessed, but I have tried to keep it all together despite their rude behavior. Why don’t we celebrate Krampus here?! They have all been the naughtiest, meanest, whiniest, and most selfish kids these past few weeks. It would actually be funny if it wasn’t my real life! Yesterday, it all came to a head and this mom ended up having a meltdown herself. It was pretty ugly.
It all started when I had to finish some food shopping yesterday morning, which I wasn’t excited about doing. My husband had major Christmas shopping he needed to get done, so he was gone for most of the day. I had to take all three kids with me, but since I only needed a few things for a relish tray, I wasn’t expecting it to be too bad. Target was a nightmare, but I wasn’t surprised. It seemed that literally as soon as we crossed the threshold of the doors, Shay was asking me for some food. Annoyed, I complied and let her get a small bag of chips. As we grabbed the food we needed, Calvin started whining about getting a package of cookies, which we didn’t need. I told him no, and said he could get a bag of chips if he wanted like his sister. Instead of just saying no, he proceeded to yell at me and kick me in the shin not once, but THREE times. Yes, it hurt, he had his snowboots on. Cursing silently to myself, I kept it together, but upon moving the shopping cart again, I accidentally ran into Shay, who proceeded to go into a full fledged meltdown. I picked her up and put her into the cart and tried to get my shopping done as quickly as I could. As we headed towards the checkout lanes, Memphis found a Power Rangers Christmas Ornanment that was left abandoned on a shelf. I’m sure some other poor mom left it there when her toddler grabbed it. He of course wanted it, and when I said no, he too started having a meltdown. Thinking quickly, I had the cashier pretend to buy it and he hid it on a shelf unerneath his station. He then offered my kids stickers which magically made them all cheer up. Thank you Target worker, I didn’t learn your name, but in that moment you were a godsend. If only stickers could solve more problems.
Once home, I put a show on for my kids and attempted to lay down for 20 minutes because I now had a headache. I’ll let you guess if that happened or not. No, not it did not. Within 5 minutes there was screaming from downstairs and then crying. I had to go break up and fix a fight about a toy, and by that point I figured a nap just wasn’t going to happen. So, being the ever positive mom I am, I wanted to make sugar cookies with my kids. Making Christmas cookies was always a favorite memory of mine with my own mom, and I try to do it every year with my kids. They picked out what cookie cutters they wanted, and even helped me crack the eggs without shells in the batter which was a win. As I rolled out the dough I thought to myself “Wow this day is really turning around.” How foolish of me.
My top oven was not working. It has this error code on it “F1 E5” and when this usually happens I can fix it, but nothing is working, and I have tried everying on google to try and make it work again. If anyone out there could help me out, that’d be great! I had a chicken pot pie cooking in the bottom one so I attempted to bake the cookies at the same time, which resulted in the first batch getting really burnt and the children to riot. The second and third batches were fine, but when I told them we could only decorate them once they finished their dinner, they were greatly displeased. Not one of my kids wanted the chicken pot pie, and I was feeling so done at that point, that I made sandwiches for them and called it good.
My husband arrived home at that time, and I had him take over the dinner/cookie decorating duty so I could go take a shower. When I was out, I asked all the kids to get ready for bed and I would put on a movie in my room for them to watch in my bed. Not one of them complied and whined and made the bedtime routine just a nightmare. Finally, once I got them all ready and in bed to watch a movie, they started fighting over what movie to watch, and I was so done at that point that I picked the first one I saw on Netflix, and slammed the bedroom door behind me once it was on.
It was all quiet on the western front until the movie was over, and at 10:45 they all came bounding downstairs and I honestly was in no mood for them to be so loud. I asked them three times to go upstairs and get in bed, and after no one responded to me, and I turned around to see Memphis wielding around the dirty plunger from the bathroom I had had it! In a not so loving mother moment, I completely lost it on all three of my kids. They were in bed within five minutes, and that’s when I retreated to my bed feeling completely rotten and heartbroken.
Shay climbed into bed with me and grabbed my hand. “This helps me to calm down Mommy, try it,” and she placed my hand on her belly and took some deep breaths. So she was listening when I told her to use her stuffed animal after all. Her efforts to help me were so sweet. I felt better the moment she was in the bed with me. She asked me why I was so sad, and when I told her that her and her brothers really gave me a hard day she softly said that tomorrow she would try to be better. For the next hour or so, we held hands and talked, and laughed. She told me some stories, and I told her some too. After that we watched a few funny cat videos on YouTube per her request, and when we both were starting to nod off I turned on some music. One of my favorite stations on Pandora is called “Twinkle Twinkle Little Rockstar”, and is based off of a music series of famous rock songs put into lullabies. Shay fell to sleep first, and was still clutching my hand to her. The song “Hallelujah” came on, which is one of my favorites. Altough it’s not necessarily a Chrismas song, it made me start to think of how grateful and blessed I am. Yes, these past few weeks have been rough on me, but no one ever said parenting would be easy. It’s hard, really hard! And even though I felt defeated, I needed to be a little easier on myself because not one parent knows what they are doing. I was reminded of a funny quote I had seen on Pinterest that said:
“Don’t be so hard on yourself. The Mom in E.T. had an alien living in her house for days and didn’t notice.”
It made me smile as I looked over at my sleeping daughter next to me clutching my hand against her and peacefully dreaming. This is why it’s all worth it, the bad days are but a fleeting moment that lead to good ones. I am so grateful and beyond blessed for my three beautiful kids, and even though being a mom is no cake walk I am happy to do it because of them.
My husband came in late in the night from painting the downstairs bathroom and found us both asleep still holding hands. My sweet girl and I are going to have many rough times ahead I’m sure, but she definitely has my whole heart.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all.
The Raw Brunette