“A caring heart that listens is often more valued than an intelligent mind that talks”
Today was a very big day. I experienced my first tantrum….that is to say that I experienced Faith’s first tantrum although my insides were also losing it. At 2 years and 4 months I have so far only had the occasional whinge and the tired cry and the teething screams. All very manageable and very non-‘possessed creature of satan’. Today however, after lunch and right about what used to be nap time, Faith started to lose her cool. She wanted me to read a book in the rocking chair. Simple request yes, but I had said no and told Faith that it was time for a rest. She had plenty of warning and ‘usually’ this is all she needs to move to our next activity. I moseyed on over to the couch – I was keen for a little rest myself.
It began; the screeching and the agonizing sounds of a toddler with unrequited wants. Faith spared nothing; I witnessed the stomping of feet, the flailing of arms, and frothing at the mouth. I literally had to lean her forward so she could cough up her phlegm and carry on. She was relentless and strong. At one point she got down on the ground and started to bang her head on the floor. She was hitting herself, hitting me, biting and ripping at her clothes. Internally I managed to recount all the reading I had done and kept it together whilst trying to hold her arms down so she would stop hurting herself. She ripped my necklace of my neck and broke it. She screamed at me as though she hated the sight of me. I let her go while I held her close and I didnt try and stop her tears. For at least 30 minutes this continued and once or twice I wondered what the hell I was supposed to do. I remember the amazing books by Aletha Solter and recounted the words in my mind as I was battling the physical and emotional outrage from my happy little girl. I felt she was both releasing and experiencing this as it was happening and we were both a little scared. She reached down my top and ripped at my breasts wanting ‘booby’. There was no way I was letting her anywhere near my nipples in her state – both for the sake of their safety and to allow Faith to let this all out and not repress it with anything. As she started to calm down I kissed her and held her tightly but lovingly asking her to breath and telling her she was ok. I breathed deeply so she could match me. we connected again and I asked her, “is there anymore?” she shook her head. I asked her, “are you ok?” she nodded. I gave her some boob and she held me close and quickly drifted off to sleep, nestling into me more than ever. It was over.
I held her with compassion and gently stroked her face as I watched her blotchy skin from all the crying start to fade and as I felt her breath deeper and deeper into the rest I had asked her to have. This was more intense than I had imagined and as I reviewed the 45 minutes we had just gone through I was grateful for all that I had learned and read. I often feel inadequate as a mother for this reason or that, as I’m sure we all do. But watching her and kissing her sweet face I was so pleased that I had not walked away from her. I had not yelled at her and demanded that she stop. I had not judged her and told her she was bad. I allowed her to release her emotions and frustrations and in staying with her and not walking away either in anger or to ‘ignore’ the ‘behaviour’ I felt we became closer; that the trust she has in me as her mother was made even stronger as I held the space for her to be and feel and cry. By sitting with her pain I didn’t negate it or make it wrong. I know she felt safe. I know she was grateful that I had not left her, even for a second. I know that she felt free to be herself and that she was loved for that. I knew all that from her looking into my eyes, nose to nose, at the very end and nodding that she was finished- that she was done, and in my acknowledgement of that.
When Faith woke she was happy and vibrant again. We played and I said yes to somethings and no to others. Whatever she needed to release today was gone and we were back on our regular terms of communication.
Im an emotional person – Im latin and arabic. Its fair to say that I express myself. I remember times when I am crying in pain and distraught for the most seemingly ridiculous reasons. The times that I just need to cry and be held as irrational as it is at the time. I remembered how it feels to be left alone or turned away from even for a second in that expression and how embraced by love I feel when someone just stays with me, silently, and sits with my pain. No words, no tissues, no talking. Its all I need.
She may be two, but she is human and I see no difference in her needs for love and acceptance than in mine.
I wonder what was happening for her? Maybe she was feeling nervous and scared about tonight, her first night in her own bed (albeit right near my bed). Maybe she was feeling the excitement and pressure of growing up to be a ‘big girl’. Maybe she was sore from the massive teeth that have just popped through. Maybe she was letting go of some of the tension she has been experiencing from me this past week. Maybe she just really really wanted that book. Or maybe she was just tired. I dont know. But I do know that she cant talk to me about it. She cant call a friend and have a coffee. She cant read up about whether what she is going through is normal. She cant go and get a massage or do any of the things I do when I feel stressed or emotional. She can cry, she can scream, she can hit and hope that as her mother I will understand and be there for her. And I am so grateful that I remembered to do that today.
Today was a special day for us. My beautiful girl experienced something new and so did I. I guess I can ‘attempt’ to understand why some would label this terrible, as in the ‘terrible twos’, but really, I feel richer for the experience, closer to Faith and bonded in trust with this special person in my life, who chose to trust me with her emotions. I feel truly blessed,
and totally in awe of my little one’s ability to overcome what she was feeling in the moment in the only way she knows how, and to then move forward with a greater sense of ease and calm.
Now. How am I going to release the emotions running around inside me right now as I realise that my little one is growing up, and that Ill miss her warm cuddles tonight and her little feet pressing against my thighs. I may just take a leaf out of her book and hope Craig is open for a big hug and some irrational tears when he gets home tonight. Here’s hoping.
Sweet dreams my big girl.