Yesterday, I had a meltdown.
I woke up. My body was so sore from skiing. I felt like every muscle was screaming at every movement, and my children seemed to be responding in the same manner. Jack’s new found confidence from his skiing success left him acting arrogant and unruly, while Lucas was finally cutting a tooth and in a state of perpetual depression. I found myself impatiently watching the clock and thinking “It’s only eight A.M.? It feels like at least two P.M.!” At that moment I knew it was going to be a rough day.
It seemed with every passing minute more toys and kitchen utensils cluttered my floor; no, all my floors. Seriously, there was at least one kitchen utensil in every room in my house! The dog was eating stolen table food in her cage, and my toddler was screaming because my four-year-old had zapped him in the face with a light-saber. Then I tripped over a broken hula-hoop littering my kitchen floor.
“Why is there are hula-hoop on the floor? and scissors? and all this cut up paper?” I was becoming more agitated by the second, and my voice had escalated to a yell. I saw the horror on my babies’ faces and I realized…”I need to stop!” I put the brakes on.
“I need to distance myself to gain better judgment.”
“I need space so I can be a nice person.”
I put the dog in her cage and the boys in their room, apologized, and told them I needed a time-out so I could make good choices. I buried my head in my pillow and cried. “BREATH: in and out, in and out, in and out.”
I found myself asking God to forgive me and to help me be better, to have more control and to feel peace. I needed to once again have patience with myself and those around me. After a time, quite some time, I headed back to visit with the boys; to hug them, tell them I love them, and explain my loss of temper.
I am always amazed at how forgiving my children are. I wish I was more like them. They have patience with me, and always allow me to try again.
My little dude said, “It’s okay Mommy. We make mistakes too. I love you!” What a great reminder of what I need to do when they have their meltdowns.
I felt better, but my disaster of a home was still agitating me. I concluded we all needed to distance ourselves from it. If patience was to be found, we needed to all get out and start over.
We bundled up, put a leash on the dog, and went for an hour-long walk. The fresh air did wonders for all of us. Walking helped me bounce back to reality and realize I have so much! Life is good regardless of how sore my body is and the mess in my house.
Since then I have reflected on the aspects of “the meltdown.” Meltdowns are often tiring and happen at inconvenient times; times when patience is running thin and exhaustion is setting in. Whether it is your own lack of patience with a situation, a person, an activity, or the lack patience on the part of another person, the “final straw” of patience is often what leads to meltdowns.
Everyone exhibits meltdowns differently. Some people are very dramatic. Some people get angry. Some people become very emotional or anxious, while others isolate themselves. The list is endless.
I used to think that the meltdown itself was a sign of weakness; but I now feel differently. I think our weakness or strength is exposed through the manner in which we deal with meltdowns. Can we bounce back? Can we have patience with ourselves and start over?
I think returning to reality after a meltdown is what we should be preparing for. I have learned that if I have a plan that allows me to distance myself from the situation, I am able to bounce back from my meltdown and gain better judgment and patience. Whether you are at home, in the car, at work, or wherever; you need a plan. Otherwise you may not be able to stop yourself from affecting others in a permanently negative way.
Meltdowns are part of life. No one is perfect. Patience with others and with ourselves is a process. Don’t beat yourself up because of your low and not so wonderful moments: rather allow those moments to help you recognize the changes you want to make, deal with them, and move on.
Question: What is your plan when you find yourself heading into a meltdown? How do you make sure you are able to bounce back to reality? What triggers your lack of patience and how do you regain it?
Challenge: Create a reminder, whether it’s a note, a picture, or a quote, that will help you remember the plan you have designed so that your meltdown is short lived and you can bounce back to reality.