The Mother of all Meltdowns

The Mother of all Meltdowns

There was crying. Loud, unabashed sobs.
 
Things were flung- at the door, on the bed, against the wall. 
 
Eyes reddened and the blood boiled to the extent that veins stood out on the temples.


It truly was the mother of all meltdowns. Last week, on a Wednesday afternoon, to be very precise, all of the above manifested to create a very scary and unexpected outburst.But it gets worse. (Oh yes! Worse!) 

All of the above was not Gy; it was me.

Mother of all Meltdowns, Diary of a Doting Mom, Shailaja V

What happened:

 As much as it hurts me to admit it, I broke my streak after almost a year of keeping my temper, maintaining my cool and handling tough situations with my daughter. 308 days of good parenting were flushed down the drain that afternoon.

Almost a year. Do you know how that feels? To go almost an entire year without raising your voice and then watch all Hell break loose in a flood of vitriolic fury? Oh and to do it two days before your daughter turns 9? Well, that’s just adding insult to injury.

The really funny part though? I didn’t yell

Nope, I didn’t raise my voice. It didn’t go a notch over the standard serious tone that says ‘Know-that-I-mean-business-young-lady‘. So why do I say that I broke my streak? That’s because I terrified the life out of two people- Gy and myself. There was so much palpable anger in the room that had it taken the form of a fire, it would have engulfed us both.

What caused the outburst is not important, but the anatomy of it will interest you. As I repeatedly asked her something and got only silence and a mutinous look in return, something snapped inside me. 

I could feel the yell welling up within and in an attempt to keep it inside, I balled up my fists and stood before her. After the fourth unsuccessful query, I picked up a doll on the bed and flung it across the room and watched it hit the wall.

Mother of all Meltdowns, Diary of a Doting Mom, Shailaja V



Then I saw the fear in her eyes, as she backed away from me, hands up in front of her face, as if to shield herself. Still, it didn’t hit me. I continued to stride forward menacingly and wagged my forefinger, forcing her to reply.

Shaking and whimpering, she cringed and moved to the corner. Frustrated, I stormed out of the room, slamming the door, the walls reverberating with my rage. This episode had been my worst in a long time- two years to be precise. The last time I had lost it this terribly was when I embarked on my Yelling less challenge.

My rage didn’t die down, not for a whole day. It simmered beneath the surface like a dormant volcano, waiting for the right moment to explode. Once it left the realm of pure fury, it gave way to sadness. So I sat in the living room and sobbed my heart out as Gy walked around on eggshells, watching me out of the corner of her eye. 

Ordinarily, I would have apologised, hugged her and smoothed things over within the hour. That day was different.

What I did later:

A whole day had to go by before I could clinically look at what had transpired the day before. One part of me was going through the standard emotions of rage, anger, cooling down, guilt, sadness, regret and vowing never to do it again. Another part was arguing that this was bound to happen since repeated instructions to Gy had failed to provoke a positive outcome.
 
I picked up the phone and called my mom and bawled. A good cry always helps. Trust me on this. Following that, I waited for Gy to get home from school, sat her down, hugged her close and explained that this could not happen again- both for her sake and mine. She nodded, still shaken from the memory of a mother who’d lost her head so completely.

We discussed that this episode was a good reminder of what happens when:

  •  we are not in control of our emotions
  •  we feel helpless 
  • there is lack of clear and level communication
  • there is no empathy for the other person- in this case, both ways.

The Outcome:

I was defeated by the very fact that this occurred, but a part of me is glad that it did. Now, instead of mere guilt over the incident, I am able to look back and learn from it.

Thinking back, there were a lot of things that happened last week that could had led to this- PMS, a sick relative, another in the hospital- but pinning my outburst on any/all of these would only be a temporary solution. Life is always going to get in the way. It’s never going to be a bed of roses, so it’s time we started triumphing in spite of our hurdles, not without them.
 
Since I haven’t really lost my cool this way for a while, Gy knew it was serious when it happened. It’s unfortunate that there is an element of fear now when it comes to telling me about something but that cannot be helped, except perhaps that with time, it will get better.
 
Life isn’t always going to be easy. Even a perfectly manicured garden will start looking shabby if it isn’t nurtured and tended to every single day. I have been neglecting myself- be it as a woman or a mom- and this was a wake-up call. If I care for myself just a little bit more, I would be in better control of my emotional health. This would imply a few adjustments in my schedule and I’ve started implementing them right away.

Mother of all Meltdowns, Diary of a Doting Mom, Shailaja V
 
 
Finally, despite our best efforts, mistakes happen. For all my yelling less tips and suggestions and that yelling less meter on my sidebar here, I am human. There are going to be pitfalls and slip ups along the way. What matters is not how I fall, but how I pick myself up and learn from that incident.
 
Writing this post was very very hard for me to do. It’s taken me a whole week just to come to terms with the fact, let alone put it down for posterity on my blog. But I have always found that writing about it and being honest-with myself and others- has been therapeutic. In doing this, there is hope that tomorrow will be a better day. And that, as we both know, is a wonderful thing to anticipate.
 




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0 thoughts on “The Mother of all Meltdowns

  1. It happens, Shailaja. I reckon it's high time you realise that you're only human. We're all impressed that you went 308 days without yelling. I don't even go 3 days, without doing that.
    You're a good person and good mother. But yes, slip ups happen. It's good that you've come to terms with whatever happened. Good luck on the journey ahead.

  2. Sending the warmest hugs your way Shailaja. You have an amazing clarity of mind in the way you dissected your anger. And you are right, life will continuously offer reasons to lose our cool. That's a lesson we need to learn if we have to pass it on to our kids. Take care of yourself. I'm sure you'll have a life-long streak this time round.

  3. You are human, Shy. You were under stress due to things beyond your control. It is okay to let off steam once in a while. You know I've always wondered how you haven't yelled for as long as you haven't. 😀 I find yelling/venting sometimes keeps me sane. It shows my kids that I am human too with my triggers. They yell at me too. And then we talk about it.

    Don't be harsh on yourself. I am glad you had a chat with Gy later. Oh and BTW I have thrown and broken a few of their toys while staying perfectly calm.

  4. Oh, Shailaja, I had a strong intuition something like this must have happened. In fact the first para was actually what I had thought about. And believe me, you aren't alone. I too have had quite a few such episodes -in Chikoo's presence- and his reaction taught me that I better express my frustration in a subtle way. But at the end of it all, we are humans. But we do learn from our mistakes and for that I am grateful to Him. Take care sweetheart. Hugs to you! ❤

  5. I can imagine what you have been through, as I have gone down this route more than once in the past. The guilt follows and stays. You and your yelling less challenge was what got through to me, and I decided to take control and make a change. It helped. A lot. You are one strong woman to admit to this on a public forum, and inspire us all to take a positive lesson from the inevitable mistakes that we make. Lots of lots of hugs, Shailaja.

  6. I've always known I was human. Thing is, I am also a bit of a stickler- for rules, challenges, you name it. So, it strikes at the core of my being when I fail at something. Not the silly things like marks or a contest, but things that matter, which is a better path to inner peace. I doubt I am a good mother. I see many signs where I could be better- less online, more present with her, more involved- but this is me. So although I cannot change some hardwired parts of my being, the other areas, yes I can work on those.

    Thanks for the wishes, Sid. They mean a lot.

  7. Thank you so much, Tulika. All this clarity would help when I am at the peak of my anger and can cool down a lot faster, actually. Life is always going to surprise me though and that is something I must be aware of. Thanks for being around. Really.

  8. Hugs, Shailaja. Considering what you've been going through, with all the stress, just forgive yourself! You are entitled to vent out. And you know what? Our kids understand best – and totally get it when we freak out. Unconditional love at its best. I am sure your cuddling later only brought you closer. Do pat yourself on the back for recognizing how you felt. Double hugs! ❤

  9. Very true, Rachna. Sometimes I wonder how I am able to refrain from landing a punch too and recalling that I was never hit as a child helps me stop myself. It is also frightening that for someone who was never yelled at, I seem to find it far more difficult to maintain my cool. Not sure if it is the stress of managing things as a nuclear family, the fact that Gy gets to see pretty much only my face all week long or that the hurdles of parenting have multiplied so much more in the last 10 or 15 years.

    Being harsh on myself to the extent of examining the situation is something I should do. No more, I suppose. Thank you so much for sharing your story too.

  10. The only solace I get is when I hear others say, 'You are not alone'. Not in a gloating manner, but more in a empathetic, I know what you mean, way. Thing is you read so much about emotional scarring and permanent damage that you get worried, right? Children and pets are very similar in that they let go of their anger and hurt so much quicker. Adults, sigh, that's another story.

  11. I am glad that the challenge has helped you, Shantala. As I said, admitting it on a public forum is thanks to the gutsy work of people like the Orange Rhino, who never shied away from saying so. And she has not one, but four kids! Thanks a lot for the support. It means more than you know.

  12. Coming from you, Vidya, the mom who never yells, that is music to my ears. I beat myself up so terribly over this. My only relief was that I did not hit her in my anger, because I doubt I could have forgiven myself in that case. The cuddling has become a daily habit now and you should see the smile on her face when I fling the door open to welcome her home from school. It's incredible! Thanks for all the love.

  13. Shailaja – I feel so proud to know you. It is not easy to accept the way we are and share it with the world. Anger is an emotion like any other and sometimes it take over us. As long as you know this, you are doing things right.

  14. The best part is that you admitted your fault…don't feel guilty as being human (not the NGO) is natural…you have commendable patience and I really look upto you for that…and the fact that you also have the courage to admit on a social platform makes you a better human being and mother in my eyes…hugs

  15. The courage to admit on a social platform is something I worked up a couple of years ago, with the Yelling less challenge. Earlier this year, speaking out about my depression without worrying about whether people would judge me was the next step. This time, however, I was very ashamed because the trigger for the outburst was so silly and ridiculous. But, like you say, if this means that the child will understand to let go of any constraints and be herself, then there must be something good in it. Thank you, Balaka 🙂

  16. Shailaja, you have had 308 glorious days of not losing your cool and yelling. THAT takes a tremendous amount of willpower, and yet no one – you too – is perfect. Focus on the positive, that you did not yell and that you had 308 amazing days. You can do that again if you choose. However, things happens, we all slip up from time to time…the most important is that we learn from our mistakes and you did. I admire you for your courage in sharing your story and thank you for doing so. By the way, there is a movie 'Inside Out' on emotions that is supposed to be very good. Though I haven't seen it, I have heard great reviews from both women and men. It just came out so maybe in about six months time or so, you can check it out. In the meantime, forgive yourself. I am sure your daughter will or has. Children are so forgiving. ((Shailaja)) <-- and a hug from me. 🙂 <3

  17. Oh my! Shailaja don't be harsh on yourself! Melt downs happen but it is the route you took after this that speaks volumes about you. Good you had a chat with Gy later; she is a darling and she will understand. Love!

  18. Hugs to you. Sometimes the pent up emotions have to burst out. And it did. Don't beat yourself. You are a good mother and a good human being.

  19. Shailaja I must say that you are a very brave lady. We all lose temper with our kids, but the way you have handled the whole thing, only you could do it. The future generations will definitely learn from this post .

  20. A year without anger!! Wow so much control you have on your emotions… you definitely shouldn't let this one stray incident make you guilty or sad. And Anger, like love and sadness, is just another emotion (which can result in both happiness and destruction) and we are bound to feel. I think it's good you let it go … and now everyone knows who's the boss in the house 😛

  21. You know what, you have been a role model and inspiratiin to me when it comes to parenting. You still are my role model and inspiration. Meltdowns happen God knows I have had them. But what I admire is the way you have analysed this. GodMa you are awesome because you are you. Lots of love. <3

  22. Usha madam, coming from you, I feel both blessed and grateful. I look up to your wisdom and gutsy go-getter attitude at your age and am overwhelmed when I think of all you have seen in your life and the way you blog about it. If even one person feels inspired by my story, I would be so happy. Thank you once again!

  23. its good that you are a stickler for rules but that does not mean you are invincible… or more accurately invulnerable. These things happen. You did the best thing under the circumstances. You sat down and resolved it after accepting what went wrong… don't we all know parents who wouldn't even do that?

  24. Absolutely right Elly. Focusing on the positive is what helped me write this post 🙂 And hey, I watched the movie 'Inside Out', with my daughter too! It was a brilliant movie, I agree and helps to speak so beautifully about emotions and dealing with them. You should watch it as I am sure you will thoroughly enjoy it too! Hugs back at you 🙂

  25. Oh everyone already knew who was the boss in the house. I think the neighbours know it too now, though 😉 This one incident was rather overwhelming, to be honest, but it's now a permanent memory. Ah well, we live and learn 🙂 Thank you Rajlakshmi!

  26. Hearing that quite probably just made my day, Jaibala 🙂 I doubt I am good enough to be anyone's role model though, since I am incredibly flawed in so many, many ways. I don't think before I speak, I lose my temper and can be sarcastic and hurtful when I am angry. But, I am learning. Thank you so much for all your love and support. It is so humbling.

  27. Shailaja, it was just a reminder that you are human. I am a yeller, and I am loud. The solution is that I have told my son to tell me to speak quietly when ever I yell.
    It works like a charm, as yelling is a mistake I am making. So sometimes I walk off, calm down and then talk.
    308 days is awesome. I don't last 8 hours. 🙂

    Hugs and much love to you.

  28. 308 days is great, I don't last 8 hours.
    I tell my kid to tell me speak softly when I yell. I am loud so it helps.
    I go out of the room and calm down and then speak to him.
    Hugs and lots of love.

  29. that is totally human Shailaja…there'd be something wrong with you if hadn't. we need to let the steam out sometimes, its good for our health too…but the way you controlled yourself is commendable.

  30. That's actually a lovely strategy Inderpreet! When you involve the kids in the challenge, it helps immensely. Even the Orange Rhino recommends the same thing. I am mostly okay, but I guess the stress of the last week finally got to me.

  31. Sounds like you are going through a very stressful period and it's only human that emotions are more raw during those times. Not good to keep things bottled up; that usually leads to explosions. Wishing you and your daughter all the best, Shailaja! Throwing things at the wall isn't so bad. My mother used to take a carpet beater to me. 😉 Everybody loses it once in awhile and you were calm for a long time.

  32. That's true, Roshan. I still think about the parents who must be so helpless as to yell daily at their kids and I feel their pain. I know some kids can be really difficult and as Gy grows older, I notice that the defiance and other things grow as well. Yes, the best under the circs just about sums it up. Thank you and good to see you here 🙂

  33. That sounds rather painful, Debbie! A carpet beater? Wow! And to think my parents never lifted a finger against me. That makes it harder, you know. Knowing that I do the exact opposite of what my parents did- yell/ scream/ throw things. But yes, bottling up isn't good for us. Thanks for the love.

  34. I think it was all because of the stress that you going through. It's ok, after we are just humans, but it is commendable that you didnt yell for 308 days!! This one day should not deter/upset you. Sending you a big hug from this side. Take care ♥

  35. Yes, writing about it surely helps. But I think it's amazing that you went 308 days without losing your cool?!!?! How!!!
    As for the meltdown – you /were/ going through a lot; no one can blame you. We've all been there. And kids do forgive us. I am sure she was really scared; but kids are so understanding sometimes that it's heartbreaking!

  36. It doesn't deter me, but it upset me for sure. She is also going through that moody phase where everything I say is taken the wrong way. TIme for me to re-examine my priorities. Thanks so much for the hugs, dear Shilpa!

  37. Hugs Shailaja. It takes so much courage to write about it. As mother's we have our moments of meltdown. As you rightly said, there's so much going on around us, that at times we tend to lose it…and I myself have done it several times in the past. I'm glad you wrote about this incident. 308 days of not yelling…hats off.
    Please pass a hug to Gy…she's such a lovely child 🙂
    Love and hugs
    Gayu

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