I used to absolutely hate taking my son to the shops. The thing I hated most was the dreaded glares from people who I just knew were judging me. I swear if anyone had said anything nasty to me, it would have unleashed the craziness in me and they would have copped more than an earful. And coming from a usually shy, reserved person who hates confrontation, that’s saying something.
I’m hoping they could tell I was already dealing with enough. And someone giving me a piece of their mind probably would have tipped me right over the edge.
I avoided eye contact with everyone. For some reason I’ve found if you make eye contact, people often take that as an invitation to let you know what they think. When I’m dealing with a tantruming child, I couldn’t care less what anyone thinks.
Well, I probably do later, but at that moment, everyone better keep their comments to themselves.
No one ever said anything horrible to me, I did have a few people with words of encouragement or a smile. Most people would understand, but you always get those few, either who have never had kids, or those who were so lucky that theirs never chucked a tantrum or were perfect little angels all the time that just have to pass judgement.
I’m not that lucky.
My son was always one of those kids who wanted everything his way and the whole neighbourhood, shopping centre or wherever we were would know about it.
Screaming matches would last all day, tantrums could go on for hours. Almost everything was a battle.
And nothing worked.
There were times I didn’t even like my own child. It might have only been a few minutes after hours of constant tantrums, but I felt like the worst mother in the world.
How can you not like your own child?
I lost count of the amount of times I found myself in tears. Having to shut myself in my bedroom to get away from him. I was frustrated, exhausted and had no one to really share it with.
My husband often worked 60 + hours a week.
No one understood. It overwhelmed me.
I coped the best I could, but it didn’t stop me from feeling worthless and inadequate. No one else seemed to struggle like I did. What was I doing wrong? Why couldn’t I handle my own child?
It hurt when we went to the shops and other kids seemed like angels, and here was mine screaming because he wanted to go down aisle eight, or he didn’t want to go to that shop, or just whatever made him decide to be a pain in the butt that day.
He’d go through stages where he had to do things a certain way. We’d break one habit, but he’d just pick up another one just as, if not more irritating. If he didn’t knock on the door, watch the kettle turn on and off, see the shower turn on, go around the table, see Fat Cat go to bed (just to name a few) all hell would break loose.
And don’t get me started if he didn’t get to see mummy pee, because we know how exciting that is.
Combine this with a lack of sleep, I was an exhausted mess.
He knew exactly how to push my buttons and bring me to the brink of insanity – every single time. I knew there would always be bad days, but when they happened, I was always hopeful that the next day would be a better one.
Having a difficult child was never going to be easy. Sometimes even my own family made me feel like I’d done something wrong. That he behaved that way because of something I did or because I let him get away with it.
At the time I believed it. No one told me that some kids are just difficult, strong minded, strong willed and harder to handle. It was so hard to feel like I had failed. He was a terrible sleeper, eater and just hard to deal with all the time.
And everyone implied it was my fault.
Every single day was a battle and I hated it.
It’s hard enough dealing with everything without being reminded that it was my fault.
If only I could work out what I had supposedly done wrong. It took so long to work out that I did the best I could, and I don’t think if I had done anything differently, he would be any different.
Kids are different. Some are easy going, some are absolute terrors and most fit somewhere in between. I think it’s incredibly hard for people who have only had fairly well behaved kids to understand that some kids are harder to deal with and chuck tantrums like it’s no one’s business.
I think that’s were the guilt trip comes in. They can control their easy going child, so they think that everyone else should be able to control theirs.
If only all kids reacted the same way.
But I think I would have been able to handle the past few years a lot better if I wasn’t made to feel like it was all my fault. If I had known at the time my son was a “difficult child” it would have been easier to get through the day, not constantly stressing about everything.
I think any mother can say they place enough guilt on themselves without others adding to it. When our kids are losing it, I think sometimes we just need a smile, words of encouragement or a small time out. It shouldn’t be this hard.
It’s so easy to make judgements on what you see. You have no idea what else is going on.
A long journey
I think it all started around 18 months, ranked up about 2 ½ years and hit it’s peak around age 3. Around 3 ½ he got a bit better, but it was only really at about 4 ½ that it seemed we were starting to get past that “terrible two’s” stage that lasted for over 3 years.
And now at 5 he’s calmed down a lot. I’m nowhere near as stressed and I can enjoy being around him more. He grew up and became better at understanding and explaining what he wants and why he can’t always do or have what he wants. He still chucks a “bit of a wobbly” at times, mostly if he’s tired or hungry, but nowhere near what it used to be and usually calms down within minutes instead of hours.
Looking back, there’s one thing I would do differently. I would have asked for help. I’m sure it would have helped immensely. Even if it was just someone to talk to who understood. It’s lonely enough without feeling like you’re shut off from everyone because no one understands what you’re going through.
Even though he is so much better these days, I still breathe a sigh of relief when he’s finally asleep. We’ve both survived another day.
Do you have a difficult child? How did you cope?