How did I get here?

Today I screamed at my daughter. I don’t mean “yelled;” I mean call-social-services-I-could-not-have-generated-more-volume-had-my-life-depended-on-it screamed.

Things evened out a little between my daughter and I as she became two, then three. The fall of her third year I enrolled her in a full-time preschool. It was an in-home program. Every morning she got a hot breakfast and a homemade lunch. It was wonderful. Until everything fell apart.

I got an email one weekend saying that the preschool was closing. Choosing someone to hand your very small child over to every day is a stressful endeavor. I wanted to call my mom and hear her say that everything would be fine and that she would take my daugher until I could find another place. Except that my mother was recovering from the heart surgery she had had the day before. The DAY before. And that very weekend was when she had a stroke which changed my relationship with her forever. I felt totally alone. I was pregnant with my son, nauseous 24 hours out of every day and so, so tired.

I found another excellent preschool, but my daughter was having a rough time. After she was born, I don’t know how much of her fussiness was a reaction to my depression, or vice versa. Now I didn’t know how much of her inability to adjust to the normal transitions inherent in the day was a result of my emotional state at the time. She would start to yell/fuss/complain as soon as we got in the car after preschool. During the 20-minute drive home I could not do or say ANYTHING right. If I said, “okay” to her, she would become irate. If I said, “yes” instead, she would become irate. If she dropped something on the floor of the car, and I told her she would have to wait until she got home to retrieve it, she became irate.

By 8 or 9 at night, I was sick, tired, and tired of feeling sick. I needed time to myself. Except that my daughter was having trouble falling asleep at night. She would wake up at three or four and want to sleep in my bed with me. When I told her she had to wait until morning, it did not go over well. This time I was the one who was irate. I knew I was teaching her horrible methods of dealing with her emotions.

After my depression was treated, I was able to hold my feelings in check a little better. My daugher would often complain for an hour or more. Her emotions would get away from her, and the result was complaint after complaint until some unseen force placated her. I was never that force. On the meds I was able to take the tantrums for an hour before I exploded. I used to try to explain to her that she couldn’t just push and push and push and think that others could just take it. She was four at the time. She didn’t get it, and I did not then and still do not now have the ability to absorb it with calm composure. I think she needs more from me than I am capable of giving.

So, at some point a long, long time ago, I reached my threshold when it comes to my daughter’s moods. Now I have little or no tolerance when she throws a tantrum. That well is dry, and I desperately wish I knew how to fill it again.


About barbaraeye

I am seeking sanity.
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2 Responses to How did I get here?

  1. stephanie clements says:

    as you know, i have 2 preschool aged girls. i think you’re being too hard on yourself. in my opinion, a lot of what you’ve blogged about thus far is common and a normal part of raising very young children. i pray for patience and the fruits of the spirit on an almost daily basis. I think raising young children is even more difficult when your family lives in another area of the country, and you really have “no backup” in cases of sickness or emergency. Since children seek indepedence as they grow and test boundaries, that is the source of a lot of stress.
    Carrie is my oldest and more challenging child. She was diagnosed as “special needs” at 2 1/2. Originally, she was thought to be on the autism spectrum, high functioning. Testing around age 3 revealed she had severe apraxia, a neuro disorder. She had no speech until around 3 1/2. She has been seeing a specialist for this and in intensive therapy multiple times a week since 2 1/2 yrs old, and i’ve also worked with her at home. we were told she may never speak. Most of the time kids with severe apraxia have cognitive delays, austism, downs, motor disorders requiring long term occupational therapy too. Fortunately, Carrie only had pure apraxia of speech and will make what is considered a full recovery within another year of therapy. She will probably have trouble with spelling and reading because of the neuro issue as well. All this started when Kendall was the newest of newborns.

    About the same time, Carrie started with night terrors and sleep walking every night. I was up every 1 1/2 -2 hrs with her every night, and she usually got up for the day between 4:30-5 am. There were no naps. This lasted a good 2 years and has only improved in the past few months. Like you, I have been significantly sleep deprived for long periods of time. I can tell a huge difference in my ability to function and parent when I don’t sleep. So, sleep is important.

    Kendall started speech therapy twice a week when she was 18 months. She is delayed for unknown reasons, but not likely apraxia like Carrie. Both kids are still in therapy 2 times a week and Carrie is also in peanut therapy for the next several months to desensitize her from a life threatening peanut allergy. Kendall is 2, like your youngest. This two year old year is not for the faint of heart. I think 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 is the hardest year. Most everything is a battle for middle earth. I imagine you’re in the trenches with me this summer doing potty training too. Kendall has literally waged a war with the potty for 6 months. She is potty trained when she wants to be. When she doesnt feel like using it, she doesn’t. It’s become a battle of the wills. Now, we wait and see who is the winner. I already know. Unfortunately, she hasn’t figured that out yet.

    I hope my comment helps you. I think this is all normal and common. Kids are going to be challenging or have issues growing up, it’s just a matter of what the issues are and when they surface. We’re parents, and we’re not perfect. And sometimes I butt heads with Carrie because our personalities are too much alike…and that’s a real eye opener. Prayer and coffee help too!

  2. Jamie says:

    Oh, Barbara, I could have written much of this myself. Quinn was a horribly colicky baby, and some days, I think that’s still the case! She is extremely emotional and does not “roll with it” very well. She’s an angel at school (would never want to draw that kind of negative attention to herself in the company of non-family), but when she comes home, she’s so tired of holding it all in, she unleashes it on yours truly. I can’t tell you how many times she’s stepped off the bus to immediately start laying into me, Eliza, or to just melt and rant about the world in general (hey, nice to see you, too, darlin’!). I tend to have a very impatient response to this (cue the yelling!). Also, I often use the same phrase describing Quinn, how she “pushes and pushes and pushes.” One book I would highly recommend is “The Highly Sensitive Child.” It was basically a book written about Quinn specifically for me. It’s helped me to not take her behavior personally–sometimes. It really has changed so much about the way I see her and react to her inability to cope with what I think are normal ups and downs of life. That said, I still have moments where I scream so loud my throat hurts (like, um, yesterday). I look forward to reading how your journey unfolds–GOOD LUCK to us both!

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