I once read an article that said if you ever question whether or not you’re a good mom, then you’re already a good mom. I try to remember this piece of advice whenever I find myself having doubts. It’s easy to be a good mom when things are, well, easy. It’s a lot more challenging when things are out of control and your kid is screaming because she wants to take a bath when she’s already IN THE BATH. Side note: If you haven’t seen that hilarious compilation of memes highlighting the ridiculous reasons that kids cry, I highly recommend it.
Today was one of those days. Without trying to explain why my almost two year old was having a meltdown that lasted for nearly 40 minutes (not like I even know myself), I’ll attempt to convey the myriad of emotions that I’ve experienced this evening. It started as it always does. Commence spontaneous meltdown as I try to take a breath and reason with the tiny tyrant. When that doesn’t work, I go for the time-out method, hoping that some solitary confinement (kidding—I’m in her line of sight at all times) will allow her to regain her composure. No go. Next, I attempt to console her with my magic Mommy powers even though I’m silently screaming for her to please cut the crap. All that gets me is some slaps in the face and kicks to the gut and THAT, my friends, is when I lose my sh*t.
I scream at her—very unkindly—as if she’s just committed an unforgivable crime against humanity. I startle her, startle myself, and then walk away because I can’t deal with the immediate guilt that comes flooding into my heart. She instantly becomes quiet, most likely scared to death of what just occurred (at least that’s what my guilt-ridden Mommy brain tells me she’s thinking). I look for a mindless task, anything to get me to calm down and think about what I’VE just done. I sit on the carpet and mechanically start to fold her clothes and put them in the drawers, internally beating myself up for yelling like a maniac at a toddler who can’t understand why. The shame I’m feeling is overwhelming. I debate my next course of action, but can’t figure out what the hell I can do to fix what I’ve just done. “Mama?” I hear. I look up and see my sweet girl handing me a swimsuit that she’s attempted to fold, making that guilty feeling grow like a tumor. I pull her close, give her the biggest hug I can muster, and try not to sob. “I love you,” I tell her. “Aroo,” she responds.
These are the moments that make me question whether or not I’m doing the right thing, if I’m EVER doing the right thing. It’s such a cliche to say that parenting is hard, but how else can I phrase it? I know some might read this and think, “What’s the big deal? All you did was shout.” To them I say, “You weren’t there.” Watching my baby girl instantly clam up with tears still streaming down her face after hearing my voice is literally the last thing I could ever want. Being the cause of her fear rather than her comfort leaves me in agony. I don’t want to be that person—not today, not ever.
Once again, I try to think back to that article. I AM a good mom. I made a mistake, not my first and probably not my last. I tell myself that if my daughter forgave me within a matter of minutes, I should be able to forgive myself within a matter of hours. It’s so hard not to overreact when you feel like you’re losing control of a situation, but part of the problem (I think) is needing that control in the first place. We’re still like kids in that way—they cry when they don’t get their way and we (I) flip our lid when we don’t get ours. If I learned anything today it’s that I have to relax, loosen the reigns, do whatever it takes to keep a level head when I lose my handle on the things around me. It won’t happen overnight, but I’m hoping that speaking it into the universe will somehow speak it into existence. I’ll work on it.
I really struggled with whether or not I should post this because I know everyone has their idea of the “right” way to parent. NEWSFLASH SANCTIMOMMIES: there is no right way. What works for you and yours may not work for us and vice-versa. I’m hoping that my honesty will help another mama (or dad) who is also experiencing wild temper tantrums and feel like they can’t deal. “Those who can’t do, teach” right? Take a deep breath (or three). Be patient. Be kind. Diffuse the situation in a way that doesn’t cause harm to either party. Toddlers can be absolute nightmares, but they can also be some of the sweetest little creatures on the planet. Sophie loves to kiss my boo-boos, brush my hair, and feed me food off of her plate without me asking for anything. She makes sure I’m looking to see when she does anything that she deems spectacular—like making a play dough heart or doing a lopsided forward roll—and she absolutely melts when I show her praise. She’s simply amazing, my favorite person in the universe, and thankfully all mine. I have to remember all of these wonderful things whenever the little imp tries to wear me down.