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.

How I handled the mother of all meltdowns: My own. #Parenting Click to Tweet

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.

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.
 Mother of all meltdowns: Have you ever lost your cool with your kids? Has your anger overwhelmed you to the point of no return? I admit it has. But here's what I learnt from it.

*Featured image courtesy: shutterstock


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