Sometimes I think the length of my mommy fuse is directly proportional to the number of months I had to wait to get pregnant.
I figure three and a half years of charting and temperature taking gave me a very long fuse. All those months of excruciating heartache made it almost impossible for me to lose my temper once my blessed little child arrived.
Now, I’m certainly NOT saying I’m a star parent… obviously not… my list of parental shortcomings could fill pages. But I am proud, and quite surprised, that I’ve made it to my daughter’s third birthday without ever losing my temper and yelling at her.
During Julia’s first year of life, I spent every day in such amazement that I had finally gotten pregnant and had a baby, that hours of walking the floor while nursing and singing to a fussy baby was fine with me. And, there were many people — sometimes including Janice — who said I spoiled her.
I simply replied, “Oh well, maybe she is spoiled and will only sleep with her mommy nearby, but I don’t mind.” I happily co-slept with my little bundle of fusses and didn’t mind nursing her throughout the night. I laughed that Julia decided for me that I should embrace attachment parenting. So I did and I loved having my baby ‘attached’ to me.
After that first year, Julia gradually turned from a slightly high-needs baby into a sweet little girl. Now we are extra blessed to have a very easy little girl who responds beautifully to simple parenting techniques such as giving choices with a little dose of distraction tossed in here or there.
But, like every toddler and preschooler, some days Julia can drain my pool of patience almost dry. And the other night, I could feel the surface cracking.
Julia was pushing her routine night-time procrastination stunts too far and eventually threw herself into a stereotypical kicking and screaming tantrum over having to wear long-sleeve pajamas. As I lay on the bed, holding and hugging her wild little body next to me and trying to console her, I grew more and more agitated.
My consoling turned to stern directives. And I heard myself saying in a deep, very stern voice, “Julia, what you are having is called a temper tantrum. You have lost your temper and you are having a temper tantrum. And do you know what? Mommies can lose their tempers too. What do you think will happen if Mommy loses her temper and Mommy has a temper tantrum?”
And to my complete surprise, Julia’s screams and cries tapered off and her little body went limp as she stopped to ponder the question. My tone had been so serious and the reality of Mommy getting really angry rocked her little three year old world. As she stopped and thought, exhaustion won and she fell fast asleep right there in my arms.
I thanked the Lord and closed my eyes to welcome my own sweet sleep.
UPDATE: For a different perspective, Janice just posted about her experience with her “short fuse” in her post, “When Mommy Loses her Temper…” Click over and read about what happens with the other twin who is raising a six year old boy! And please note that my daughter is still very young. I am sure I will lose my temper with her in years to come. (And if my memory correctly serves, when I was pregnant and exhausted last year, I lost my temper with Janice’s son Jackson on a few occasions!)