Question: What’s better than screaming at your kids all by yourself in the privacy of your home?
Answer: Doing it with a friend on the phone who hears every syllable of your insanity, your hostility and your total lost-your-shitness.
Welcome to my morning, folks.
The moment Mary picked up my MOMMY SOS call this morning, both of my children started whining. Loudly.
“Mary, I am about to lose my shit. HELP ME!” I whispered into the phone.
Mary, kind enough to answer her phone before 8 AM, listened to me vent my frustrations– the 5:30 AM wake-up call, husband out of town, no good food in the house, and THESE KIDS WON’T SHUT UP.
“Mommy, I want the phone,” Sadie wailed underfoot. “More Play Dough,” Simon screeched from the table.
“Just a second, Loves! Mommy needs to make a little phone call.”
But they wouldn’t stop. “The phone!” “Play Dough!”
So, I snapped. Loudly. It was ugly, and Mary heard every word. Were there F-bombs? Yes. I am sad to say I dropped an F-bomb.
“Mary, I am too tired to be embarrassed that you just heard me scream at my kids in such a nasty way.” While she may have been judging me, she sure didn’t act like it. She laughed in that I’ve-been-there-many-times way that only another mother can. I assured her that I would make amends to my kids for being an asshole and screaming like a raging alcoholic. (And, actually, I will make amends to her for subjecting her to my early morning stress break-down.)
My anger explosions confuse and terrify me. Forget about other mothers, I judge myself. I actually don’t drink at all so I can’t blame alcoholism directly, and I have worked all 12 steps in several programs, so why do I spew anger like someone coming off a heroin binge? (Are people who binge on heroin angry or just super skinny? For the sake of this post, let’s say they are angry as hornets.)
Maybe I am exaggerating it in my head. But, then again, I don’t want to minimize that impact it may have on my kids to see me clutching the phone like a life raft, screaming, “Please give Mommy one fucking minute. Please.”
This morning, when I got off the phone with Mary, I felt considerably calmer. The kids played a CD, and we danced around to “I’ve Been Working On the Railroad.” When the music paused for a new song, I hugged both my kids and said, “Mommy is so sorry for being mean this morning.”
Sadie said, “Your screaming is not nice.”
I said, “You’re right. Mommy would like to be different. It may not be the last time I scream. Just know I am working on better ways to let out my anger.” How could I possibly promise I would never do it again? That would be a lie. We don’t lie here. (We scream and drop F-bombs, but we don’t lie. That’s trashy.)
Surely, I am not the only one who snaps at her kids. But even if every mom/parent has those moments, I hate it when it happens at my house. Every single time I feel great remorse and pray for more patience and more light-heartedness. Then, I make amends to my kids; we talk about how it makes them feel. I assure them that they are allowed to have whatever feelings that come up for them when I am angry. I tell them they are allowed to be angry too.
My hope is to expose my anger and the parts of myself that I think are despicable (that part that drops F-bombs in front of toddlers, for example) so that I can shine a healing light on them and then connect with other people who are dealing with their anger. If I could have fixed all my issues before having kids I would have, but you know, that might take decades, and these eggs were getting stale.
One time I was talking about my anger in group therapy and expressed my great woe that my kids have to have to front row seat to the carnival that is my emotional life. A father in the group gave me a concerned “tsk tsk” about expressing anger in front of my kids. “What do you do when you feel angry and your kids are right there?” I asked him genuinely. His response, “It’s never happened.”
And that was the scariest response I could imagine. You mean I am the only one? There must something really, REALLY wrong with me. Of course, he works full-time so his exposure to his perfect angels is roughly two hours per day. And, maybe he’s a better person than I am. There’s plenty of you out there who are. (But also, f*ck him and the judgmental steed he rode in on.)
I think I would get more from honest shares about how other people navigate being human (angry, sad, depressed, wildly excited, overwhelmed) while small children are in the room.
I believe others can teach me to be a better parent. And I am willing to learn. How do you deal with your anger? How do you make amends to your kids when you have crossed lines you wish you wouldn’t have during tense moments?
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Here are the instructions:
Step 1: Write a blog post about hope & publish it on your blog.
Step 2: Invite one (or more!) bloggers to do the same.
Step 3: Link to the person who recruited you (me, in this case) at the top of the post, and the people you’re recruiting at the bottom of the post.
Melanie Crutchfield will be holding “Closing Ceremonies” around August 10 and will gather up little snippets from people who wrote about hope, so make sure you link back to her as the originator of the relay.
Thanks for reading!