(ALERT: if you are reading the following “Bad Mommy Moment” post, you might be eligible for payment due to the therapeutic nature of its content. Proceed with caution, and pull up a couch!)
I’m at Starbucks. I snuck out of the house while the rest of my family was napping, and left a note for Daddy that says “I’m giving you guys a break from the Mommy Monster for the rest of the day…”. I also sent a text to a Mommy friend, hoping to escape into a movie later, and drown my guilt in popcorn.
Instead of just stopping to breathe in “self-control”, I really needed someone to just whack me over the head with a big vat of it this morning! I awoke startled by the frenetic energy of my son, like an excited dog right by my head – no, literally barking and licking me like a dog, flashing me his toothy grin, then jumping up and down on sleepy parents, as if he needs to go out to pee or at least play. We did snuggle sweetly some, and I read him a book that was handy. Then, I went into controlling Mommy mode, wanting us to get a move on if we were gonna make a Saturday family trip to the zoo before everyone else in Dallas arrived and the temperature at the Giants of the Savanna actually hit 130 degrees like the real Serengeti. It was already 8:30 and the zoo opened in only half an hour. Come on, people! Dustin asked for 10 more minutes in bed, and I got dressed, brought clothes in for MJ, and asked him to use the potty. Meanwhile, I was getting a bit irritated that D was not helping in this effort to get the family out the door. (Though let it be said that I know he deserves a break every now and then, too! It’s just not always so convenient for me.) Somehow, at the point where MJ continued to goof off, not doing as I had asked, and D continued to stay in bed, I felt my blood pressure going up, saying things like, “I’m trying to do something fun for this family” and “I guess nobody else wants to go to the zoo!” Then, when MJ flat-out lied to me about using the potty, and was being defiant about it, I ended up throwing him too forcefully onto the bed, yelling at him, and taking away the toy he was playing with for a week. (So I may have overreacted a bit. So what if the kid wets his pants, right?) Though his eyes got big in fear of Mommy Monster, my behavior did not scare the little pup into submission, but only made the dog madder. As he continued to cry, I picked him up, roughly setting him on the potty, kneeling in front of him until he urinated. (All this time, my anger is growing, and I realize it’s mostly because Dustin is still just lying in the bed while I’m struggling a few feet away, but I am taking it out on Michael James. I know I’m in a Bad Mommy Moment, but I’m too caught up in it to pull myself out.) He does begin to pee, but then wriggles around in protest, his urine splashing my face, and covering my dress. I loose it at this point, my Mommy Monster voice becoming two octaves lower and scarier, and as I’m forcing him to clean it up, Daddy finally gets out of bed and comes to rescue him from me, and I hand him over eagerly, “Take him from me!”. I hear him crying to Daddy, “I don’t like Mommy anymore! Why is she like that? She hurt me.” I slam the bathroom door, totally dejected, cry, and kick the wall, angry with myself for losing it one more time, for bringing out those fearful eyes again, for causing him to say those hurtful words about me, the one person who loves him the most in this world. And after a few minutes of Daddy consoling him, having a talk, and snuggling with him on the couch, I go to apologize. I used to have really crazy freak-outs before I was a mom, and was always comforted to look at the calendar afterwards, and say to Dustin, “Ohhh, that wasn’t really me, that was crazy hormonal me.” So the question of the day is: Can I say that to my kids? “It’s okay because Mommy Monster only comes to visit about once a month, so no worries!” I can’t. This is the part that sucks about being the so-called “grown-up” in the parent-child relationship. I tell him that Mommy was feeling frustrated, and I got too angry with him. That sometimes when I feel anger about other things or other people, I take it out on him, and that is not fair. I am sorry and I will find a way to do better. When I ask him for a hug, he starts to kick me and says he doesn’t want to be with me. I return to the bathroom like a wounded animal, tail between my legs, knowing I’ve got to get a handle on my own misbehavior, the song and lesson of the week from music class repeating in my head and conscience, “Monkey see, monkey do, the monkey does the same as you.” Please don’t act the same as Mommy did today! As I’m reflecting, I realize my biggest outbursts do seem to be caused when I am feeling irritated with Dustin, like I am “acting out” to get him to step up and step in. I don’t misbehave this way when he’s not around – why is that? It’s like I want him to observe how difficult my current parenting situation is and think, “Oh, let me help out here.” It seems like when I don’t feel control over my husband, I assert more in an inappropriate way over my kids. I know half the battle is recognizing this tendency. “Hi, I’m Lowry, and sometimes I’m a resentful wife.” Do other Mommies feel this, do this? I have been honest with Dustin about it, acknowledging that it is wrong and apologizing, but it is what seems to be happening in these circumstances. And I probably just need him to step in sooner, or maybe I can just have a secret code with him like, “It’s happening. I need you to take over for a few minutes.” Then go calm myself down before Mommy Monster fully escapes my body. 10 minutes later, all seems well again, and we eventually do go to the zoo. I feel emotionally spent, though the “edginess” to my parenting lingers all day, Daddy often saying, “Calm down, Mommy”. And I am left wondering if, hoping this is hormonal, after all. I need some excuse other than just “I’m having a Bad Mommy Day” to help me forgive and accept myself. Do other hormonal mommies feel this sometimes?
And here comes the “good thing“, in spite of it all. Michael James helped to heal my heart and spirit after lunch as we were eating ice cream in the shade. He kindly shared his with me, often leaning his cone over to me for licks, even handing it over. He did the same for Daddy and even Ellie with such tenderness that I felt tears coming down my face, witnessing this generosity and love. In spite of my bad behavior, he truly loves me, he is truly loving, and he tenderly reached out to share his love and ice cream with me. What more generous gift from a child than their precious cookies n’ cream ice cream? Now that is true love, and I will take it as a sign of forgiveness.