Friday, April 29, 2011

Fight. Fear. Guilt.

My pounding head could not withstand another moment of whining. My patience was stretched too thin, like a rubber band about sting my skin with a sudden snap. The pressure expanded in my chest; was I nearing a heart attack at age 32?

It was fall. 2010.

I was in the midst of my worst mommy moment.

Amelia was nearing 2 1/2 years old. She was having difficulty dealing with boundaries, rules. She could likely feel the stress that entered our household earlier that summer when her aunt had a bad accident and became paralyzed. Our summer was full of concerned houseguests, hospital visits, long weekend days at the rehab center. Amelia was placed in front of a movie a few times too many. She was brushed aside more often than she would like.

My daughter lashed out in anger when things didn't go her way. Rage erupted from her small body and discharged through her hands, fingernails, and teeth. I was afraid of her.

I cried. I worried. Did I do something terribly wrong to create such a monster? I had physical bruises and scratches. I was abused by my own young child.

Finally, my patience could take no more. My stress level was through the roof. One additional outburst from Amelia, and I lost my cool. I yelled. I spanked. I dumped her in her room. As she tried to escape to dig those little claws near my skin, I pushed her back. I pushed her with more force than intended. She fell backward into her room. For a moment, her rage ceased. She looked up at me with those big blue eyes, and I saw the hurt. I felt her fear. I had lost my grip on the calm Mommy voice. I let my stress level go too far. I frightened my child.

I collapsed on the floor and began to cry alongside my crying little girl. I hadn't the faintest idea what to do with this angry child. I could not come to terms with my own frustrations. My heart shattered when I let the guilt seep in. Did I deserve to be a mom? How could I let it come to this?

I will not forget that day. That fight is etched in my mind. I can still see the look in Amelia's eyes when her rage turned to heartbreak. Her Mommy, her safety, became scary that day.

I vowed never to let things get that bad again. I sought out professional help. I learned how to better handle child anger issues. I learned how to ensure consistency in my discipline. I learned how to calm my nerves when the terrible twos reared their ugly head.

Nearly as quickly as they began, the violent tantrums improved. Amelia and I became a team again. She looks at me with absolute trust again. She understands my discipline, even though she may not like it.

I had no idea I could fail so badly at mommyhood. But I am thankful for that failure, as it solidified my will to make things right.

I am a good mother.

I am a good mother because I learned from my mistake. I refused to let my stress manipulate the relationship with the most important girl in my life. I took control of the reins again.

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This week's prompt from The Red Dress Club:

This week, we want fightin' words. Write a piece about a fight. What happened? Why? Who "won"? What were the repercussions?
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