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When My Son's Meltdowns Seem to Make Time Stand Still

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There’re 24 hours in a day, but it can take just one meltdown to make time stand still. Each meltdown can feel never-ending.

My son was having a great day, but within seconds, he unbuckled himself from the backseat of the car and thrust back and forth screaming. I pulled over and tried to help him. I told him to use his words and do the four B’s — put on the brakes, take a deep breath, shut off your brain and hug your body — but he was at a point in the meltdown where the only way out was through.

For 45 minutes we were parked at a Chick-fil-A, the same place he so badly wanted to have dinner. Unfortunately, he seemed to have lost all sight of dinner or anything through the fog of his meltdown.

Seconds felt like minutes and minutes felt like hours as I watched my son no longer form words, hit his head and lunge to bite me. All I could do was watch and try to keep him safe until the fog lifted.

Then I could see his rage turn to sadness. His cries were less angered and became more of a cry for help. He leaned forward and said, “Mommy, my head hurts. Please let’s go home to bed.” I let out a huge sigh, buckled him in and drove back to our apartment.

The physical post-meltdown exhaustion wore on him like a 200-pound weight, and shortly after 8 p.m., he was fast asleep. I was lying next to him and cried out every emotion I felt. Anger because I couldn’t help him. Sadness because it’s not fair that he has to go through this. Fear because of his safety.

The list goes on and on, but after my late-night detox from it all, I find myself in him — in his strength — and I find hope. Hope for a better tomorrow. Hope that the next meltdown won’t be as bad as the last. Hope.

From one mom to the next, it’s easy to drown in the tears of a meltdown hangover, but no one said being a mom was easy.

Don’t live in the meltdown. Process it, feel it, but move beyond it. If nothing else, believe in hope and give anything but up.

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Originally published: March 25, 2016
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