Not my proudest mom moment during my five-year-old’s latest temper tantrum. She ran to her room and screamed, “you hate me!”
She slammed the door and I could hear her crying as I collapsed in my living room recliner and sobbed myself. This is not the mother I envisioned being.
I prayed for a daughter. After two boys, a daughter was my dream. I thought of Barbies, dolls, and everything pink with bows. However, since I separated from my ex-husband almost four years ago, her anger has become uncontrollable.
“You are her safe person.”
I hear this phrase all the time as I cry, “why does she only do this to me?” I know why. My degree is in mental health and child development after all. She feels no sense of control. She is bounced between two households, one very toxic and one she feels safe to react.
But that does not make being “safe” easy. Everyday is the same- screaming at the top of her lungs, not listening to the extreme, being disrespectful, breaking things, trying to hurt me physically, uncontrollable crying to name a few.
I also have a background in ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) which is the approach I’ve been using. We do a lot of first-thens, star charts, sticker charts, time outs in her room where I‘ve had to block for safety. She has to sit on her rug with a calm body before we discuss what happened and then clean any mess she made.
There’s no manual for being the safe person
I’m defeated, I’m at a loss, on a island alone. My ex refuses testing, saying she’s fine, the courts won’t allow counseling because he is against it, so I have to wait for our trial to fight for it. I love this little diva girl more than life itself- she’s smart, sassy, funny, kind, helpful and can make me laugh until it hurts.
But being her “safe person” is a job they don’t teach you about with a child who is struggling. There are days I want to quit, I want to run away, I want to scream from the rooftops. But then her little hand will grab mine, she’ll surprise me with a picture she drew of us, she’ll stroke my face and say “do you know how much I love you mommy?” And it reminds me how important this job is.
My tattoo says Warr;or, and it’s true for both of us. It’s also a sign- the semicolon project is for mental health awareness. Children struggle at a young age and this isn’t talked about enough, it is still taboo.
The quicker we help our children- to give them emotional support, to give coping strategies, to let them know it’s okay to not be okay – the more we are encouraging their minds to accept struggles and persevere.
This is my most important job
In this picture above, I am holding my daughter’s hand. It is a reminder, that after each struggle, each tantrum we will pause, but we will keep going. It is a reminder of an unconditional love between mother and child. It is a reminder that being the “safe person” is not easy but it may be my most important job.
So I wipe that stray tear, take a deep breath, and let my daughter know I am sorry, I make mistakes too, but my love will never falter. I will walk beside her encouraging her every step of the way, because that fire burning inside my little tiny girl will someday allow her to do incredible things. Which makes being her “safe person” a million times worth it.
My daughter, this I promise you… you are my Warrior, you may not always like me, but I always love you. We will conquer these dark days and will come out stronger than ever, this I promise you.