Mama had a meltdown

Mama had a meltdown

Posted: Wednesday, June 9, 2010 8:01 pm
By: By Lisa Smartt

When I was a little girl, the word “meltdown” only referred to a glacier melting somewhere in Antarctica. I never remember anyone saying, “My 2-year-old had a meltdown at the grocery store.” But in 2010 most of us know that meltdown no longer refers to melting ice. It refers to a melting emotional state. When a small child misses his nap he’s more likely to have a meltdown. In the backseat of the car when Junior takes the lollipop that the bank teller gave to Bubba, Baby Bubba has a meltdown. When 7-year old Clarice finds out that her family trip to Six Flags has been delayed because Grandma Betty can’t find her teeth, she proceeds to have a meltdown. 
As a general concept, I don’t support meltdowns. In fact, our boys learned long ago that if they ask for candy at the store and I tell them no, a meltdown will get them nowhere … or somewhere they really don’t wanna go. But every now and then I understand a meltdown. I understand the sleepy toddler crying from frustration. I tolerate the hungry kid getting a little whiny. And the mamas? Yeah. Once in a blue moon I can even have a little compassion on a 46-year-old “Mama meltdown.” Such was the case with our family last week. No, I’m not embarrassed.  We all learned a valuable lesson.
Our boys are 12 and 14. We still like them pretty well. They even like us most of the time. But something’s happening. It’s a strange adolescent hormonally-induced fiery competition between the two of them. Now that school’s out, I’m home with both of them all summer. Yep! Every day. It’s kind of like spending the summer with two hungry hyenas in the midst of a famine. “I brushed my teeth better than he did. He hardly brushed at all!” “I can run the trash can to the road faster than he can.” Sometimes this friendly “competition” turns into full-fledged fighting. Such was a day last week. They fought over the breakfast cereal. They fought over the television. They fought over who I was harder on. They even fought over whose handwriting was the best. And, incidentally, both of them have handwriting that requires the interpretive work of a hieroglyphic specialist.
Later that evening all four of us were returning from town when the boys began their backseat competitive banter. “I think that movie was stupid.” “That was the best movie I’ve ever seen.” “No, it wasn’t!” “Yes, it was! And since when do you know what I think about movies?” And that’s when it happened. I was done. Utterly and completely done. I didn’t take away privileges. I didn’t punish. I didn’t yell. I started crying. It started out like quiet sobbing. But eventually it turned into that full-fledged wailing. One man and two men-in-the-making were pale and silent for what seemed like eternity. One of the boys spoke first, “What’s wrong with Mama, Daddy?” “I’m not sure. Lisa, Honey, is there anything we can do for you?” “No. I’ll be done soon.” And I was. Ten minutes later I felt like a new woman. The boys apologized for their behavior. We all had a group hug. Yes, I had a “Mama meltdown” in the passenger seat of a Chevy Trail Blazer going 65 mph down Highway 22 last Friday. Regrets? No. We’re all the better for it.
For more information about Lisa Smartt, visit her website lisasmartt.com.
Published in The Messenger 6.9.10

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