Tuesday, November 11, 2014
The Horrible Mother
No recipe today, just an honest post about something I've been mentally struggling with recently.
I love my children. I really do. I love them more than life itself and often think about how I would give anything to shield them from suffering and pain.
I've always had a bad temper - my hair color really should be red - and my temper is ultimately the reason I have so many moments of parental failure. In these moments, I am the cause of my children's tears - the source of their pain. These are the moments that taunt me, telling me what a liar I am for thinking I love my children so much. If I did love, why would I ever hurt them? Sometimes I get so angry, so stressed, that my negative emotions take over and turn me into a gigantic ogre who yells, punishes, and just plain scares everyone.
The other day was particularly rough. Emma has been refusing to take her naps, meaning I don't get as much accomplished as normal during the day and she turns into a gigantic grump around 4:30 - way too late to put her down for a nap. Plus, she's in an exhausting phase where she is into tearing EVERYTHING apart. Plus, I'm tired, hormonal, and irritable due to the pregnancy - not that I can play that card forever. On top of everything else, Matthew has been getting in trouble at school and I have had to chat with the teacher frequently about his behavior and it has been emotionally a little draining. Anyway, I managed to get the two of them playing with Legos upstairs and snuck away to make dinner and get it in the oven quickly and (hopefully) without being disturbed.
Well, wouldn't you know it - at an extremely critical time in the recipe - the part where you pretty much have to babysit the dish lest the sauce curdle or burn - the two little people decide to come downstairs to check in on me. They both begin whining about being hungry, thirsty, bored, in need of Halloween candy, etc. Emma grabs onto my legs as I'm trying to finish frying off the chicken and complains about the loud sounds of the sizzling meat (even though her crying about it was waayyy louder). Matthew then decides to get a drink for him and Emma - which is fine except that he's standing between me and the refrigerator and I'm really trying to finish everything off. Not that I could move anyway without Emma's grip pulling my pants down. While I'm whisking the flour and seasoning into my sauce, Matthew, unbeknownst to me, hands an unlidded cup to Emma filled to the brim with water. Of course, she dumps the entire thing all over herself and the floor and then proceeds to scream about it. At the same time, Matthew, turning to see what happened with Emma, accidentally knocks the bottle of oil off the counter. It crashes to the floor and the impact causes the cap to dislodge and oil spills everywhere.
I lost it.
I started yelling at them to GET OUT! Why must you always be huddled around me?! If I'm cooking, and unless I ask for your help, you keep out of the kitchen! GET OUT! OUT!
They both burst into tears and moved themselves a generous 6 feet away and continued to cry as I tried to salvage dinner (it was beginning to scorch) and then proceed to clean up the oil-and-water mess on the floor. I don't think I've ever been so angry in my entire mothering career.
And then Paul came home. It must have been quite a sight. Me, with my hair piled into a messy bun atop my head, crazily wiping the floor while the children cowered on the other side of the room. I should probably also mention that there was a nice haze of smoke from the dinner I had burned in the process. Matthew ran up to Paul and declared: "Mommy scared us!" That made me lose it again. I started to cry and sob to myself as I continued to scrub the floors. I was a horrible, horrible mother! My children are scared of me! I don't deserve them. How can I bring a third child into this world if I can barely handle the two I have? And they are really great kids, despite what Matthew's preschool behavioral chart might indicate. They are sweet, loving, beautiful kids and I don't deserve to be their mother.
After I had composed myself, I apologized to each kid. I hugged them tight and said I was very sorry for yelling at them. I hugged Matthew tight and told him: "You're my favorite boy in the whole world."
He hugged me back and said: "And you're my best girl, Mommy!"
And with that, I knew I had been forgiven.
I can't blame hormones or exhaustion or anything else for losing my temper. I just simply have to be better - a better example for my children so that when they think back on their childhood they do not remember the times I totally lost it. I need to figure out another, more productive way to teach them not to push my buttons so much. In other words, no more being a horrible mother. I'm starting my own behavior chart - using Matthew's preschool behavior chart as inspiration - to keep track of my temper. Hopefully both of us will improve so neither of us flunks out.