Well, it happened. I did it. Today, I completely lost my cool and exploded on a level that I don’t think any of us knew I had inside of me.
Friends, it’s been a long week. My 5 month old is teething, has an ear infection and is sick. On top of it, she’s been starting to get picky and super active during nursing times, so she cries often because she doesn’t take enough time to eat. So I am feeding her ALL the time (cue eye roll). It’s also my oldest child’s first week of Kindergarten, which has it’s own slew of stress inducers, as well as my poor middle child feeling more neglected than ever. *sigh*.
So, tonight as I was nursing (again), I was attempting to mentally prepare myself for another full week of school. My little baby girl was fighting me and being more distracted than ever and my boys were refusing to stop yelling and screaming and fighting, right there in the room with me. Every time one of them yelped, she would pull off and it would take some serious coaxing to get her back on, even though I knew she was hungry.
Feeling extremely overwhelmed, I told my boys to go play in their room across the house and to please try to be quiet so she could eat. They made it to their room after only asking 5 times (!) and then proceeded to scream loudly and run in and out of their room and in the hall. I tried to calmly and loudly suggest (with authority!) that they get back in their room and be quiet. And of course, this all while my little one kept pulling off and fussing.
Finally, this loud BOOMING voice emanated from deep within me. Okay, so in reality I just yelled as loudly as I could. I shouted “SHUT UP AND GET YOUR BUTTS IN YOUR ROOM BEFORE I LOSE IT”! (because I so clearly hadn’t lost it yet).
Well, that did it. The baby started crying because I had frightened her and the boys were terrified and scampered into their room. And while I tried to soothe my littlest, I was grateful for the quiet uninterrupted nursing time, but was unhappy about my outburst. As much as I wanted, no needed, to get their attention and get them to settle down, that was not the way I had intended to accomplish it. How terrible of a mother was I? Now I was sure I would witness my boys hollering at one another and quite possibly other children.
Then it hit me. I don’t need to be a perfect mom. It is okay to be a “bad mom” sometimes. I know, I know, you’re thinking uhhhh what? A bad mom? But hear me out. If I truly want to be a role model and if it’s truly part of my responsibility and opportunity as a mother to teach my littles how to interact in the world, isn’t it better to be imperfect around them; to be real? Their social experiences in life will revolve around raw and real encounters. Shouldn’t I be teaching them what to do when instances like this happen?
I finished nursing my little girlie and walked back to my boys’ room. I calmly entered and told them that I needed to talk to them. We sat down and as I gathered them in my arms, I apologized for yelling. We discussed the reasons mommy had gotten so angry and I reiterated how important it was for them to obey Mom and Dad. We also talked about why I had asked them to be quiet. Sometimes I find it helpful for them to understand that I do have reasoning behind my rules and requests. And then I told them that even though they hadn’t obeyed, that Mommy shouldn’t have yelled at them. I hugged and kissed the snot out of ‘em and made sure they knew how much I adored and loved them.
You see mamas, some day my boys are going to have moments where they too explode. And when that happens, I want them to know what to do. They need to learn how to deal with feelings of anger, frustration, and embarrassment (for starters) and what better way to teach them than by example.I want them to realize that although their feelings may be justified at times, they are responsible for how they react to those feelings.
“Bad mom” moments happen. We all have them. The times we lose our cool and angrily scream like I did today, or the moments when we have an argument with our spouse/significant other in front of the kids, or maybe the moments when we are too wrapped up in our work or mobile devices to pay attention to our kiddos when they need us. We all experience momming shortcomings. None of us are perfect. And for the sake of your children (and all of us other moms), please stop acting like it.
Instead of pretending that these “bad mom” moments don’t happen or feeling an overwhelming amount of guilt when they do, let’s use these moments as teaching tools for our kids. Embrace all that you are and be real with your kiddos. They’ll be better for it. When we let the aftermath be the defining moments of situations like this, your kids won’t remember you for your flaws, but for the way you handled them.