A Parent Freak Out

Last week I had a parent Freak Out over Liza, and had to leave her crying in her crib.

The Freak Out is one of those secrets of parenthood that most parents don’t talk about. It is nearly guaranteed that, at some point when your kid is still a baby, you will lose it and be unable to cope with them. They’ll have been crying and crying, tears streaking their face, and you’ll be running on very little sleep. Whatever ability to cope you once had boiled away over the previous hour. You look at your kid and all you can see is a package of obligations that you can’t meet. You hate your child. You hate yourself.

Liza slept very poorly during our Christmas travels. She had a series of colds culminating with an ear infection. A lot of times, the only way she would sleep was draped across one of us. She’s also developed a habit of flailing when you rock her to sleep. You hold her lengthwise across you, head at one arm and feet at the other, and her left hand smacks you in the face and neck.

That one night last week, we’d been dealing with Liza for hours. We would get her to sleep, put her in the crib, and she’d wake up and start crying. I tried to rock her and calm her down when she slammed her forearm into my throat, choking me.

That was it. I dumped her in her crib and stormed back to bed, telling Misty, “I can’t look at her. I can’t deal with her.”

When you’re a parent, not only do you get a subscription to Guilt Magazine, but also you get to write articles for it. A good Freak Out is worth a three-part article.

Liza is much better now. Antibiotics are taking care of her ear infection, and Misty and I are trying a new sleep regimen that’s helping all of us. With luck, I’m done with Freak Outs for a bit.

15 thoughts on “A Parent Freak Out

  1. Oh, man, the Freak Out. I remember it well. Good luck with better sleeping and less ear infections!

  2. Thank you. I’m sure I will have many of these. It’s reassuring to know it happens to the best of us.

  3. Just think–you could have taken the Britney Spears way out and had the police and paparazzi at your house!
    Sounds like you handled it wisely.

  4. What Stephen didn’t mention was that mine was once a week for the three weeks prior to his freak out. The joys of parenthood no one mentions!

  5. Oh I know the Freak Out well as well! What made me feel the worst would be when she would scream and scream in my arms and I finally put her in her bouncy seat just to set her down and walk away for a minute … and… silence. Sometimes she just wanted me to set her down. She would often become all smiles after this too. Those smiles made me feel both ecstatic and guilty at the same time.

    But yes, I know the Freak Out well. I’ve certainly had my share while I was at home on leave.

  6. I’ve only had two Freak Out & that was babysitting my niece, and then my nephew. My niece refused to go to sleep – kept screaming her head off. I was so frustrated I just had to walk away and come back 10 minutes or so later. My nephew had a similar problem – kept screaming for no good reason when I put him down. You try everything you can think of and then just finally realize that it doesn’t matter – they’re going to keep fussing/screaming…

  7. My mom actually threw me at my dad once. She claims I was completely airborne for about a half second. I think you’re still coming out ahead.

  8. I know that moment.

    That singular moment when you look at your child and have to make a simple decision.

    1) Hit him/her.

    2) Walk away.

    It’s doesn’t make you an evil person to get there, but you’re right, most people don’t talk about that aspect of parenting.

    I’ve been there once. I’ll certainly be there again. Last time I had to take Ivy to her room and latch the door – for her safety. I was so frustrated – but I managed to do the right thing, as it seems you guys have.

    Crazy though. Good on ya for blogging about something people keep so quiet.

  9. I am totally impressed with this blog, and the honesty with which you both portray your parenting. I have never seen such honest and entertaining writing.

    Thank you…from a gay man who will never know the joys of parenting, nor it’s trials. You give me something no one else has been able to.

  10. Oh, man. Full sympathy and empathy. I definitely know that feeling — it’s a full-body experience. The Freak Out isn’t cause for guilt, though, not when you handle it in such a benign way.

  11. This sounds like the first 6 weeks of Emily’s life. With the 12-hour marathon nursing sessions and the both of us finally collapsing for 5-8 hours of much needed sleep, only to wake up and repeat…I so understand Parent Freak Out. I think I spent as much time in tears as Emily.

    I have a very real experience with this, but will post it on my site so as not to take up tons of space. Just know that I totally understand where you are coming from. Remember, you and Misty are great parents. Don’t succumb to the Parent-Guilt trap.

  12. Had one of these just today. And my kids are older! I was ready to smack their whiny heads together. Makes me glad I have someone to snarl to, “YOU deal with this – I’ve got nothing left” and walk away.

    But the guilt is very real, even when you know you handled it well. Thanks for the reality check.

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