My son is almost three. I prefer saying that to saying he's two and a half, because almost three puts greater distance between me and the terrible twos and we need all the distance we can get. Since this is my free space (read by only two loyal friends and a stranger, if I'm lucky) I will not follow up with a disclaimer that I am grateful for the lows as well as the highs. Let's just say, I am done with tantrums for now.
Despite all the positive parenting garb I can absorb, standing your ground in the face of a blasting tantrum is incredibly hard. When all you want to do is shake your toddler back to sanity (and silence), you must breathe, kneel down and gently coax him out of his panic. Sounds wonderful, but what about my panic? What about the times I want to scream right next to him, or I'm trying super, super hard not to lose my mind for the thousandth time this morning?
What's worse; what about when I do lose my mind? And feel incredibly, awfully, painfully guilty for losing my temper at a child that truly knows no better. He simply cannot process his emotions and does not understand that there are any considerations beyond his desire to not wear a jacket in the freezing cold. I know that, but I also know that I cannot take it anymore.
If you've lost your temper before (and frankly if you're that supermom who hasn't, well, share your secret or forever hold your peace) you will recognise the pain that follows. There is a restaurant I used to love that I now cannot step foot in because it reminds me of a particularly difficult episode I had with my son that I am ashamed of. I will miss their bread buns, but that's a small price to pay to never be in that place again.
And while I do not have advice that will help you avoid the tantrums, I do have a mommy-guilt trick to restore your self image when you just want to curl up and cry that you did not apply the 5 step method broadcast on social media by that mom who always has the perfect manicure. My secret? I read to him. No matter how loudly we yelled at each other that day, how well or how badly we behaved, I read to him.
During those moments, I can be kind again. I can be patient and sweet and give him the love I know he deserves and that I cannot always express. I know he forgives me and feels my love when I hold him in my arms and read to him whatever he wants, however many times he wants. I relax and free my mind that I am able to show him how I really feel, away from the frustrations of the day.
It is just me, and him and a book. And it is a moment that speaks my purest emotions.