I am not usually a yeller. I can actually go weeks, if not months, without yelling at my child. But man, when I do yell, it’s major. I’m not talking about “the Mommy Voice” that happens a lot. I’m talking about the yelling where you totally lose it. The kind where you feel, and probably look, possessed by some evil spirit. The kind where your screaming and your kid ends up crying. That major kind of yelling.
Well, it had been months since I had yelled and I was feeling pretty good about my current parenting state.
Then Wednesday happened…
J and I had had a really good morning. He played well, followed directions well, and I even got a hot shower.’
Then we went to the grocery store.
In my afterglow of such a wonderful morning, I decided that J could handle walking with me and helping me shop. I put Baby E in my wrap, gave J his special grocery list, and off we went. Life was good…this was going to be easy!
Let me start out by saying that this was only my second trip to this store since we moved. It’s completely different than my last store, and it is still a challenge to find everything I need.
J insisted on helping me push the cart, and I was so distracted trying to find everything I needed, that he ended up being in the middle of everything and I’m sure he bothered several other shoppers. Because I don’t know the layout of this new grocery store, I had to zig zag across the store 3 times to get everything I needed. It took twice as long as I had hoped. By the time we were done, E was getting tired and fussy, it was time for J’s nap, and I was losing my mind. I swear I said J’s name a thousand times, and I got several sympathetic looks before we got to the check out line. I totally felt like “that Mom”.
When we get to the car, I was so frazzled that I somehow lost track of J in the parking lot while putting E in his seat. I looked up and saw 2 cars stopped, waiting for my 3 year old to get out of there way. I was terrified, angry, and embarrassed.
On the way home I used my Mommy Voice and reminded J of all the different reasons why he needed to stay with me. Truthfully, I was more angry with myself than him. I told him that I was scared and frustrated so I needed some quiet time to calm down.
He said “ok” and actually sat quietly while I listened to my music and tried to calm myself. After a bit, I told him I was better and I went through the plan for when we got home.
I told him that his job was to clean his toys while I put E down for a nap and put away groceries, then we would get ready for his nap. He said “sure, Mommy” and I thought “yes, some cooperation!”
Well, when we got home, the garage door decided to quit working. Great! One more thing to do! Just what I needed today! Grrr! I could feel the anger well up inside me all over again.
I brought both boys inside and reminded J of our plan. He then started crying and whining about having to clean up.
And I LOST IT, I mean really lost it.
I yelled, screamed, and told him to get in his playroom and start cleaning up immediately!!! I ranted, I raved, I was boiling! I yelled so loud that my throat actually hurt.
After what felt like an eternity of yelling, I stopped in my tracks…took a deep breath…and tried to center myself.
Whoa…I needed to calm down. My poor kid was crying, but cleaning. He was doing his best and was trying to please me, while I screamed at him. I could tell he was scared, of ME, and that broke my heart. I’m supposed to be his safe place, not his scary place.
I needed to reconnect with him and I needed to do it quickly.
I got down on my knees so he could see my face, and this is how the conversation went:
Me: “I’m sorry J, I should not have yelled at you. It was wrong of me to do that”.
J: “That’s ok Mommy. You got mad because I ran in front of the car, and the garage door broke, and you yelled because I wouldn’t clean.”
Me: “Your right J, I was angry about those things, but that’s still not a good reason to yell. I am so sorry.”
J: “No problem, Mommy. You’ll try again later, and you’ll do better.”
That apology let us start the day over again. I took naptime and focused on nurturing myself a bit (apparently I needed it). We were able to start again that afternoon and ended the day with play and laughter. Thank goodness for the kind hearts of children. Their ability to forgive and move past conflicts is amazing to me.
I knew that I was angry at other things and taking it out on him., It really wasn’t him…it was me. He was being a 3 year old kid. He wasn’t acting any different that he usually does. The real problem was that I was stressed and had had reached my limit.
At moments like this, it’s important that I apologize. I’m not perfect and it’s important that he sees that adults make mistakes and need forgiveness just like kids do. Hey we’re all human and we all screw up…even Mommies!
Hello A, 🙂
First of all, go pat your back for being the quiet one for such a long time. Secondly, the way J calmed you is phenomenal, so he deserves a pat too! 🙂
These incidents have been happening in this household, across the globe, more often than I am proud to admit. And I must say, I could use your tips a lot.
Thank you so much. I am quite proud of both of us. 🙂
Karen - Making Memories in the chaos.
Really appreciated this post! I am currently on a “STOP YELLING” regime in my house! Sometimes I amaze myself at just how much I can really go off on one! Jeepers – poor kids 🙁 But when I step back, 9 times out of 10, it’s something deeper going on – it’s not really the kids..it’s my lack of sleep/rest etc…..Us mummies are always learning, eh?! xxx
It’s tough to stop yelling, especially when you have ton on your plate and are stressed. That’s why I try so hard to remember to take care of me and my stuff. It’s hard, but I’m such a better parent when I don’t have all that emotional baggage. Sometimes life just gets too big though. You should really look into the Orange Rhino’s page. She took a challenge to not yell at her kids for an entire year, and succeeded! She’s such an inspiration and gives such great ideas on how to keep your cool! Sounds like you’re doing a great job!
Here’s MY takeaway from your post: J’s response to your apology was totally insightful, loving, and forgiving. You know who taught him to be that way? YOU!!! So to me, it’s obvious that J is soaking in and modeling your LOVING behavior, not your occasional meltdown behavior.
(BTW, I’ve made my boys cry with my yelling, too. I know what a horrible feeling it is.)
Thanks Prickly Mom. I needed that 🙂
“…..and the Lord will restore the years the locust have eaten away”….Everyone melts down, but it is the wise mother who recognizes that there are “do overs” and that we ALL can forgive and try again. I love Maya Angelou’s adage…”When you know better, you do better”. Looks like a lot of growing went on in your home that day.
Amanda, Please be kind to yourself. Perfect is an unreal expectation. Yelling is not the end of the world. Your children know you love them…it was evident in your son’s response. He was mirroring your “normal” behavor:) Carry on!
Thanks Amanda for your HONESTY! I really thought I am the only one, who is yelling and having sore throat afterwards…. Yes, we Mommies have a lot of our plates and we focus on so many things at once…. You are amazing, inspiring Mom for me and I learned a lot from your blog! Greetings from Alberta in Canada!
In resume, don’t’t go shopping to a new store with young children
Thank you for this post. Glad to know that I’m not the only one to blow-up at my child from time to time. It seems to happens to me more on days that multiple things aren’t going right for me or out of the ordinary problems occur and my child does something to just break the last straw. I feel so bad after it happens… I feel like I should get the “worst mom of the universe” award and that I have messed my child up for life. It helps to know that I’m not the only mom that happens to loose her mommy cool. Thanks!
Mummy overwhelm is my trigger point. Like you and others we often recognise the onset and rectify the situation and BREATH! But sometimes life just throws it at you thick and fast. Us Mummy’s always remember the blow-ups and the hurt and the bad mummy moment but the reality is we are doing so much good in little ways every day ALL the time and we just don’t give ourselves credit for it…until our little one takes us under their wing and knows just what to say to make our hearts sing with joy and it was us that taught them that, how to show empathy and compassion, that is down to us.
Theres Just One Mommy
Have to say it brought tears to my eyes because I have definitely been there!
Sometimes it seems it’s something so minor that is the final straw…but that getting down on their level and apologizing is just so important! We all make mistakes, and we are all learning as we go!
I have yelled a couple times lately. I totally understand. This post was much needed. An apology to our children, even though they’re young, is very powerful.
I have a 2 yr old and 5 mo old so life gets too big sometimes.
Now if I could figure out how to cope with his sudden crying all the time??? I don’t get it. He cries and whines and I just cannot take it.