Three days of working from home with the kid, followed by the weekend… and I was spent. Lewis slept pretty well, with the exception of one night, so I was well rested. But sometimes being rested still isn’t enough to handle a teething, grumpy toddler.
My patience was tested. It wore thin. I snapped. I was frantic 80% of the time. There were moments where I was so upset that I could feel it as a physical sensation in my body, and my only safe release was to scream. Which I did.
Kyle may not have been there Wednesday through Friday during the work day, but even with just evenings and the weekend of toddler-madness, he was frustrated and upset.
We know why Lewis was having a rough time. The poor kid is clearly in pain from his canine teeth coming in. And he seemed extra tired, perhaps from growing (he sure has been eating a lot…). So when we weren’t upset, we were empathetic. We know that he is suffering, and we know that he has so few ways to express himself that sometimes tantrums and acting out are all he can do to get through to us. But even armed with empathy, we aren’t always able to muster up the patience we needed.
This is something we’ve been working on – Intentional patience. Patience despite ourselves. And after the most trying week (behavior-wise) we’ve ever experienced with Lewis, I can say that we have made great strides, and I’m very proud of us.
And when we failed at “intentional patience” and felt ourselves losing it, we resorted to other strategies more often than not. Because the frustration is such a physical sensation for me, the gym/working out has been a godsend. Using that as a physical outlet pushed the reset button for me on several occasions over the last week. Kyle even banished me to the gym on Friday because he could tell I was on the verge. And I, in turn, banished Kyle to the golf course on Sunday, because peace and quiet seem to help him. He also took himself on a long drive on Saturday with the windows down to clear his head and push the reset button on his temper.
We love Lewis so much. So, so, so, so much. We even love him when he is throwing tantrums, throwing food, clinging to us, climbing up the stove (when it is on!!!), banging toys against the wall, playing in the garbage can, climbing behind the baby gate while mommy is working, pulling his diaper off, getting into the dishwasher, standing on his ride-on toy instead of sitting, and more.
We love him all the time. But parenting isn’t easy, even when you have all the love in the world. We’re going to keep working on intentional patience, calm interventions, and empathy to accompany that love so we can survive the rough patches.
And we’re going to remember our coping mechanisms, use them when we need to, and encourage each other to recharge when we aren’t recognizing that need in ourselves or allowing ourselves to take the time we need. We’re going to get through this together, and at the end of it all, Lewis is going to know he is loved and understand the rules and boundaries. It just doesn’t happen overnight!