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Once I Had a Meltdown at One of the Most Peaceful Places on Earth

11/14/2013 09:49 am ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

By Tamara Bowman

Picture this. A serene hot-springs pool in Northern California. Distant mountains and the low hum of an airplane cutting across the sky on a clear day. 73 degrees. Warm, lapping waters. The murmur of low voices and the wind lifting the pages of a nearby book. I remember feeling blessed only minutes before my meltdown. I remember opening my eyes and smiling at a teenage girl lying on a lounge chair next to me. My daughter, Scarlet, was in a rainbow bathing suit and she was giggling and jumping up and down in her portable playpen beside me.

And then the tides turned. Something shifted in her. In me. Suddenly my senses filled up with a different picture. Crying toddler. Wet bathing suit. Complete blow-out swim diaper. Extreme mess.

I needed only to slightly peel her bathing suit away from her damp skin to get a sense of the horror inside her swim diaper. By now, she was uncomfortable and shrieking. All of the people relaxing near us sought out more soothing shelters from our impending storm. So what did I do?

I walked away. I bailed. I yelled, "I...Can't...Do...This." I had never done that before in her 14 months of life, but I ran to a locker room to catch my breath. I left my husband to deal with the mess. To be fair, I wouldn't have walked if I had not been awarded the luxury of having him there with me.

It was a rough time in our lives, due to recent losses, illnesses and stresses. There are so many factors that led to my meltdown; there are many imperfect recipes for perfect disasters. You don't always know what is about to set you off, how bad it will be, and where you will be when it happens. All we know is that there are inner storms brewing and we are not always equipped to face messes and stresses with calm demeanors. We are parenting from all sorts of places and emotional spaces, and it doesn't always align well. There are external and internal sources in our moods and meltdowns. In my case, it was grief mixed with a dreadful diaper. A little bit of this, and a little bit of that.

Sometimes, if you can, you have to walk.

The thing is, I never walked into motherhood thinking it was a walk in the park. I approached it one step at a time. First, I had to get through the tremulous first trimester. Then there was the relatively smooth second trimester. Followed by the wobbly third trimester. All I cared about at that point was getting through the birth. Nothing else mattered to me.

I had heard the stories of postpartum hair loss, night sweats and nipple pain. I could not care less. It was about the birth - the descent into the unknown. Little did I know what I was falling into.

Of course you probably know what happened next. The birth was the easy part. Before I left the hospital, I took five minutes to nearly crumple into a hospital wall with wracking sobs. I did not know why. I hadn't even left the birth center and I was nostalgic for the antiseptic and protected environment of the hospital.

I walked out and sat in the backseat the whole way home as she slept. She slept through every drop on the road, and around gentle curves. She slept through being lifted from her car seat and into her brand new Moses basket. She slept and I sat. "What now? What in the world now?"

I was never prepared for the depths of love and the scope of disaster possibilities. I found comfort in new friends and through MotherWoman support groups. That is where I really discovered my "home" within my relatively new geographical location. These were my people. The bewildered masses of first-time (and even second- and third-time) parents, in over their heads and out of their elements in love, loss, fear and joy.

In my Tuesday morning group, which I grew to look forward to all week, we spoke about everything.

How it gets better. Then worse than before. There are new phases and new growths. There are illnesses and injuries. Challenges. Reaching out and letting in. Reaching in and letting go. There are terrible times. There are meltdowns.

Theirs. Ours.

I find comfort in knowing that I'm so very not alone.

Over the summer, Tamara was approached by Crystal Ponti of mommifried.com to contribute a story about my her worst parenting meltdown. Crystal had a brainchild that we are all sitting on these wild stories of our parenting meltdowns, and wouldn't it be beneficial to get together and share these stories with the public?
What followed was an experience of a lifetime. Thirty bloggers have come together in writing, parenting and melt-downing. This book is for every new parent, experienced parent, and anyone who has ever witnessed an adult meltdown. So basically, this book has something for everyone!
The Mother of All Meltdowns: Real Stories of Moms' Finest (Worst, Completely Awful) Moments

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Author's Bio: Tamara Bowman is a professional photographer at Tamara Camera, a mama of two, a writer/blogger at Tamara Camera Blog and a nearly professional cookie taster. She has been known to be all four of those things at all hours of the day and night. She is a very proud contributor to the book, The Mother Of All Meltdowns After two cross country moves, due to her intense Bi-Coastal Disorder, she lives with her husband, daughter and son in glorious western Massachusetts.

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