We make mistakes. We’re not perfect and to my surprise, no one expects me to be except me. How many times have I snapped at my kids, not because they were doing something catastrophic, but more because I was at my wit’s end, frustrated, stressed, and alone?
Of course normally this occurs during what I like to call, the “I can’t take any more, get my husband home” stretch. It’s that hour to hour an half between the time my 5-year-old gets home from school and the hubby walks through the door.
It’s not like I have a lot of dignity to begin with. After three labors, births and breast feeding, that all went out the window a long time ago.
So it’s yesterday, end of the week, and Owen, my oldest, barrels through the door. Every day he says the exact same thing: “Mommy, may I please have a snack?”
He barely gets inside the house before the words are spilling out of his mouth. No “Hey mom, good to see you,” or “Love you mommy.” Nope, he just wants a snack.
However, he does ask nicely and I can imagine how tired and hungry a 5-year-old can get at kindergarten. It’s a very taxing day. So I get up and prepare a quick snack for all the kids. Then I start picking up the house, my daily reset.
A few moments later, I notice how quiet it is — which is never a good sign.
I walk into the boy’s room to find Blake and Owen playing games on my iPad. You can imagine how that might be a big no-no. Off they go to time-out. Meanwhile, Madison has taken advantage of the distraction and headed for the bathroom to play in water. Can you sense the frustration building?
After I let the boys out of time-out, my friend Paul drops by to pick up some stuff. While we’re chatting, I hear something coming from the outside room. I panicked Immediately. Crap, paint! It suddenly occurred to me that I’d been painting some rods for the Catonsville Prom and I’d left the paint out.
I round the corner to find all three of them with paint brushes in hand, literally caught red-handed. Frustration building again and back to time-out they go. This time I was firm, but had not quite lost it yet. After all, my friend was still there. But wait, there’s still some icing for the cake.
While I’m cleaning up the mess and the kids are sitting in time-out, Madison, my 2-year-old, climbs up on the counter and grabs the bag of tortillas that I’d brought out for dinner. I walk in to find that the kids have devoured my dinner plans and were trying to hide it. There was nowhere else for my frustration to go. I snapped.
Do you know how humbling it is to apologize to your kids for losing your temper?
Yep, it sucks. There were many other ways I could have dealt with the situation. I didn’t have to yell, but at the time it felt like my only options were to yell or get in the car and drive far, far away.
Believe me, I understand that we’re not perfect. As parents, we make mistakes all the time. Remember, it’s not like we got an operating manual for parenthood. I’m not saying it’s OK to blow my lid, but I am saying that when I do and I’m willing to own it and take responsibility, I find a deeper bond with my kids. They have so much love and a huge propensity to forgive. We just have to be willing to ask for it.
Right after my fit, which was like a grown-up version of a temper tantrum, I walked out of the room, took several deep breaths and came right back. I sat down with each child and apologized for raising my voice and talked with them about not only their behavior, but mine as well.
Owen and Blake both gave me a hug, and Madison popped her fingers out of her mouth and pulled my hair. Oh well. To each his own.