The War of Wills

KimberleyNixonKim is a working mom of a 1 year old and a 50% baked baby (24 weeks pregnant). That’s right, she’s insanely going for 2 under 2. She’s become pretty passionate about the benefits of yoga, especially for prenatal / postnatal women. She started Om Mom Yoga to help moms carve out time for themselves. All classes are delivered privately, and via Skype. You can check it out here: www.ommomyoga.com. She blogs occasionally about the various kid-induced stressors that lead her straight to yoga class (or a drink, when she’s not pregnant) and the need for every mom to take a #omMOMent.

I am tired today. Not normal parent tired. Today, I am bone tired. Closed my eyes when my kid crawled over to my side of the bed, tired. Thought about sleeping at the steering wheel of my car tired. Heavy eyelids at noon, tired. Last night or more precisely, early this  morning at 3:21 am, my 12.5 month old son decided to have his first tantrum. My pediatrician told me that this would happen. He said when they (the time snatchers / aka children) turn one, they discover free will and they may do things like refuse to eat a meal. He did not speak of pre-dawn melt downs over cups of water.

A recap. My son woke at midnight, and we were too tired to rock him back to sleep, so we put him in bed with us. He slept fitfully until 3:15, changing positions every 20 minutes. Around 2:45 he started coughing. He’d wriggle around, switch positions and then in another 10 or 15 minutes start coughing again. At 3:15, I gave him my water from my water cup that sits on my nightstand. It sits in an orange plastic cup with a lid and a plastic straw, and he loves to drink out of grown people straws. So he drank to his heart’s content and then began playing with the straw. He then tried to lay down with the cup and straw. He refused to put the cup down. I wasn’t about to let him turn the cup on the side and leak water into the bed, or poke me or him in the eye with a wayward straw. Little did I know, this meant war.

orangecup

The orange cup that started the whole temper tantrum.

He cried mercilessly when I took the cup away. Nothing would console him, we rocked him, we rubbed his back, we put him back in his crib. We took him back out of the crib. We spoke to him in loving tones, we shhhsh’d him (is that a word?),  spoke to him stern tones, sang to him, changed his diaper, and through it all he wailed, he rolled around, he kicked his legs , he raised his tiny tyrannical arm in the direction of my cup to make sure we knew what he was after. Every chance he got he would raise up onto sleepy, wobbly legs – grasping my shoulder, or standing on my neck or pressing down on my chest for support to reach as far as he could to get to the orange cup. By4:27 he was exhausted. He had given in. He collapsed back into fitful sleep, a sweaty, snotty, tear streaked mess – crying and whimpering as he drifted to sleep. Or at least that’s my guess. I’m not really sure, because as soon as he stopped kicking me in my pregnant belly, I went back to sleep.

When I woke in the morning (really, just 2 hours later), I realized that I had just experienced my first tantrum. As, I replay the event again in my head, I have some questions.

1. If Fisher Price is making “My First…” toys, where’s the adult beverage company that’s making parenting firsts cocktails? I would buy every mom I know a my first tantrum, or a my first night letting baby “Cry-It-Out” – bottle of wine. I think I might just have to do it myself.

 2. Are tantrums always this unpredictable? I assumed that a mom knew when a tantrum was on its way: when she refuses to buy the cookie at the grocery store, or when she takes away a toy, she does so with full knowledge of the consequences. Am I wrong?  My first tantrum was totally unexpected. After all it’s not the first time I’ve let him drink from my water cup in bed, and in general, if I take something away from my son, I can redirect his attention to avoid prolonged shrieking. Clearly, that’s a bit more difficult at 3 in the morning. My arsenal is low, I had no noise making toys on hand and I was too tired to think about playing itsy bitsy spider.

3. Am I always going to hold steadfast? I’m pretty stubborn and stuck in my ways, so I’m not really shocked that my son has inherited this trait. But can I truly avoid caving in every time he has a fit? If I say “no” and then change my mind when he cries, I feel like I’m teaching him to cry longer and press down on my chest harder until he gets his way. I’ve watched way too many Nanny 911s,  and I don’t want my baby to turn into the 2 year old that masterfully uses tantrums to get his way – but I can’t imagine my will is always going to be this strong. This is my first tantrum and I’m already worse for the wear.

I won the battle, but not the war. I was unprepared for this test of wills, and I won at the expense of sheer exhaustion. And now I’m so consumed by it, that I’m writing to you all about it. Meanwhile, he “lost” the battle, and woke up this morning happy as a lamb, and will very likely take two beautifully restful naps today to make up for any lost sleep. Maybe I didn’t win after all!

To all of you veteran moms that have been fighting the war of wills for a while, my hat’s off to you. It is clear to me now there is no right or wrong answer to dealing with a tantrum. There’s no single, consistent way to solve the issue, and sadly no adult beverage dedicated to this occasion. But there is the happy aftermath. That blissfully calm time when you can see your child in a happy light again, and when you feel vindicated in your effort to instill a sense discipline – that is until tantrum #2.

 

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