Breakdowns & Crowns
Saturday was officially the most challenging day with Wes. On the swing, on the floor, being picked up, being put down, turning the “wrong” direction while holding him, walking out of sight, not responding soon enough to his baby-signs. You name it. There was a tantrum or breakdown for it. And every parent I’ve talked to since Saturday says we’re in for a long painful ride. Eek.
What Wes is going through reminds me of a very unfortunate combination of three things: (1) me at my most hormonal and anxious, (2) the time I felt totally out of control when I injured my knees and Mark had to push me around Disneyland on a peek day in a manual wheelchair, and (3) the inability to express those frustrations and be completely aware of them would drive anyone to their wit’s end.
Sunday was almost identical to Saturday. And so on with every day since. But between those breakdowns have been some seriously magical moments. He’s said more words than ever. He's been hopping into the dog bed to cuddle with our fur babies and proactively asking to cuddle with me to read or watch iPhone memories. And tonight before bed, we played a game where I collected every pacifier in his room and rocket launched them from my mouth (attractive, I know). It made him laugh more than I’ve ever seen anyone laugh ever. Those moments give me the fuel I need to get through the bumpy times.
Wes' breakdowns have been a challenge for me and Mark. Especially as we haven’t come to an agreement on how we'd like to handle them (tip: do not attempt to discuss a solution to handling breakdowns while breakdowns are occurring). We usually keep things light and stay calm, especially when stuff hits the fan. But boy has this thrown us for a loop. After a tough two days of regular tantrums with Wes, and Mark and I not communicating well during them, so much that we stayed away from each other for most of Sunday, it was time to raise the white flag.
Before going to bed on Sunday night, I found him watching a TV show about the World’s Most Important Buildings (he doesn't watch TV so clearly he needed a mental break). I grabbed a blanket and cuddled up next to him, wrapped my arms around my big hunky guy and said “I’m sorry we all had a tough day.” We hugged tight and in that moment I knew we were back to normal. He apologized for the same and we agreed to continue talking about how to handle these breakdowns when we’re both calm and in a good space.
There’s this crown that Mark and I stuff into each other’s suitcases when we travel. I got it for him for his 32nd birthday as a gag gift and made him wear it even though it’s totally ridiculous. He was a great sport about it. It’s come all over the world with us and even to the hospital when I was in labor. It’s a reminder – and an inside joke – for us to keep things playful. To lighten the mood, I put it under his pillow. He found it when he came to bed, gave me a big squeeze and said "thank you."
While I can’t promise our blood levels won’t rise the next time we’re together and Wes looses it, I can promise that the most important thing in those situations is that mom and dad are good. When I'm a total mess, I need someone to let me have space to let it out, tell me it's going to be ok, give me a hug and move on. Mark so beautifully helped me see this over the course of almost ten years of our relationship. I see that Wes needs the same as he struggles in this phase.
We tag team, we sweat all while trying to keep it cool, we stay patient and then we play. And when we do breakdown, we find little ways to remind ourselves and each other that we’re on the same team. We've handled so much worse... We got this, babe.