The ups and downs shall pass – they always have done

He kicked, he screamed, he fought, he cried. My beautiful four-year-old boy turned into someone I barely recognised.

As days go, it followed a run of lovely ones. It came after my proclamations of us having had a lovely extended break together, at the end of a much-needed and blissful little holiday from work and school. It came after I’d been quietly reflecting on how grown up he had become and how settled life seemed. It came after I’d cautiously acknowledged that sometimes, some weeks, this parenting-thing was something I could manage.

It came as a shock – a horrid, sad, angry few hours. He scratched, he punched, he shouted out words he didn’t mean. He acted out of spite, he showed no compassion. He lashed out at me, at his best friend, at his sister.

I took him upstairs to his room, put on an audio CD of Toy Story, and asked him to stay up there until our friends had left. He nodded, defeated, and sat on his bed and listened to the story. Half an hour later, when I went upstairs, he was still listening. His friend had gone, I was upset about all that had happened – and it seemed he was too. He told me he didn’t like fighting and didn’t want to do it anymore, and that he’d liked the time alone in his room.

Until that point, as I’d watched our day unravel, I’d felt sad and upset about how he’d behaved. He’d been so violent and mean – was it my fault? He’d been so cross – why? I worried about how I could help him and what I’d done wrong.

His remorse lifted me. He hadn’t liked the anger, he wanted to try and control it. I still felt sad and upset – but relieved somehow that we’d figure this out. I didn’t want my child to be violent, just as he didn’t want to lose control.

This too shall pass Milin at park

I learnt that day that my little boy might be four, but we’re all still learning. Yes, the baby days are over, and I can look back at them and know how I could have done things differently, how they might have been easier – but this doesn’t mean I know what I am doing now.

Every day, week, stage and age simply moves the challenges on. When you look back on the tough times of one month they feel like absolute hell or a dream in comparison to the ones you face today. You might have learnt how to settle your one-year-old, but that gives you no insight into how to calm your over-tired four-year-old.

My cautious bliss, my belief that I might have cracked this motherhood thing was naively optimistic. Yet I still go through this process every few months of believing we’re finally in a more serene place. I’d fallen into the trap of a few days in a row of peace – and I’d lulled myself into the belief that all our days would be like this now. Of course they won’t be. That’s not what life is like with children.

What life is like, now, is unpredictable and unfathomable. But while the challenges change and there are new reasons for dark days – the good ones are also brighter. And those good days – there’s more of them now. More days where you’ve slept for six straight hours. More days when you don’t shout. More days when no-one has a meltdown in a supermarket over being told to keep their coat on. More days when you remember their library bag and nursery permission form and get through bath-time without tears.

As the children grow, and as we grow, the ups and downs might take us by surprise as we become less used to their intensity – but they too shall pass. Just as they always have done.This too shall pass Milin smiling

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8 Comments on The ups and downs shall pass – they always have done

  1. Sarah MumofThree World
    January 26, 2016 at 8:52 am (2 years ago)

    Poor boy! It must have been horrible for him and for you. Unsurprisingly, I’m finding the teenage years a challenge and it will be double trouble before the year is up. It’s good to read that a lot of things are getting easier for you all, but, like you say, kids do have a habit of moving the goalposts constantly!

    Reply
  2. Mary @ Over 40 and a Mum to One
    January 26, 2016 at 7:37 pm (2 years ago)

    I find being tired is always the trigger for Monkey these days. He’s pretty good most of the time, but after school is always a little more tricky. All part of growing up as they learn to control and process their feelings.

    Reply
  3. mummyofboygirltwins
    January 26, 2016 at 11:36 pm (2 years ago)

    Ahhh such a tough one. I agree above…that tiredness usually makes mine act this way too. I am finding their ages easier (practically) but harder in terms of arguments and battles!! Teenage years stay away! xx

    Reply
  4. Charlotte
    January 27, 2016 at 11:59 am (2 years ago)

    What a lovely piece about parenting with empathy and acceptance. A reminder that we are all vulnerable to not knowing and not getting it right, and to approach it with curiosity (not blame or judgement- of ourselves or of our children). Well done for helping your son to learn how to identify his feelings and reflect. Well done for remaining kind to yourself and him through a tough day.

    Reply
  5. Rachel In Real Life
    January 27, 2016 at 12:07 pm (2 years ago)

    We had a few days at the end of last week where the husband and myself barely recognised our own child; he was moody, miserable, rude, everything that he normally isn’t. The result was the husband and I were both snappy as well. While tiredness is definitely a trigger here I think recently it’s been down to the simple fact of wet weather making it impossible to get outside to burn off some energy so it’s been expended elsewhere.

    Reply
  6. Another Bun
    January 27, 2016 at 10:21 pm (2 years ago)

    This sounds like our house at the moment. My boy was 3 in November and he seems to have a lot of big emotions to deal with, it’s pretty hard for all of us!

    Reply
  7. Natalie Ray
    January 29, 2016 at 11:48 pm (2 years ago)

    Such a lovely post. Those times are so difficult aren’t they? For some reason I find the tantrums so much more difficult to bear with my older girl (she will be 4 in June) than with her little sister. I think it’s because as a general rule, she is such a lovely, calm, reasonable and grown up girl. It really takes me by surprise when she has a meltdown. I hope things have calmed down for you now.xx

    Reply
  8. Louise (Little Hearts, Big Love)
    January 30, 2016 at 11:12 pm (2 years ago)

    Glad that the Toy Story audio CD helped your little one calm down and get over his anger. It’s so hard when they’re really struggling with their emotions in that way but hopefully together you’ll find a way through them until the challenges change once again. It’s so true that once you think you’ve got this parenthood lark mostly sussed, things change and you realise that you don’t really know what you’re doing yet again! A beautiful reflection on the challenges and changes that parenthood brings.

    Reply

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