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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.

These pictures have nothing to do with the post. They're just a random assortment from this fall.
Here, Matthew was helping me peel apples for applesauce and peeled his finger.
He hasn't touched a peeler since. All for the best - he was a bit on the slow side.

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.


  1. Monica, I appreciate your honesty. I think every mother has these "turning into a monster" moments. It's hard but you are doing great. God bless you and your beautiful family!

    1. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement! I get so worried that I'm not being the best I can be - it's the perfectionist in me coming out! My husband worries about me writing down my "dark moments" but it helps me cope in a way. I'm happy to report that I've had a really good last couple of days with the kids. Again, thank you for your kind words!

    2. You know, Monica I wanted to also say that you are very brave to come upfront and say it like it is. You see, most moms don't come out of the closet because people tend to get judgemental. Moms are supposed to be perfect but they are only human! So let's cut them (and you) some slack! Writing down your "dark moments" is therapeutic and I believe most moms with young children will find comfort knowing that they are not alone :)

      Glad to hear that the last couple of days have bee really good. Take care, Monica!

  2. I got upset with Matthew and Emma and I wasn't even there! Believe me, I would have reacted much worse. I thought you handled it fairly well. You're human, Monica. Stop beating yourself up. Children love to push our buttons and give us a guilt complex. It might even be a good thing if you scared them a little. Maybe they'll remember that the next time they become demanding. Don't get upset about Matthew's behavior in school. My oldest grandson was somewhat of a problem in grade school. His teacher actually wanted him put on medicine. My daughter and her husband absolutely refused to do it. They just worked with him a little harder. Today, he's on the swim team in high school. He's very disciplined. He gets up at 4 in the morning for practice. He's captain of his team and a straight A student. I wonder how he would have turned out if he had been put on medicine? Anyway, Matthew sounds like a typical boy to me. Instead of keeping a chart, why don't you try to find some time for yourself perhaps meditating - or doing something that makes you feel good. You deserve it.

    1. Thank you for your kind words! They really do encourage me. It's comforting to know that other mothers do lose their tempers at times. I also really appreciated the story about your grandson. Matthew has major focus/listening issues and those have been the source of his behavioral problems. I was completely aware of these issues when we sent him to school, but hoped he would behave better in a classroom environment. The teacher is confident he will be fine and will grow out of it, but it will take a little extra work encouraging him to focus. I know he's very bright (a little too smart sometimes) and very sweet and I'm hoping that he will be as successful as your grandson someday! Thanks you for your note!

    2. "Matthew has major focus/listening issues". My grandson had the same problem. His teacher's right; he'll grow out of it. I think boys have a tendency to be that way. So don't worry and keep up the good work!

  3. I actually have red hair and the temper that goes with it. =( I pray every day for more patience with Luke, especially now that he always wants to "help" in the kitchen and can climb up chairs. It's frustrating. When I yell at him I then get more mad at myself for yelling than I did at him for whatever he did in the first place. It's nice to hear other parents struggling too, especially since the tendency on blogs to paint everything as perfect. =)

    1. Diana, you have no idea how refreshing it is to hear that other moms I admire (such as yourself) struggle with patience with their kids. I think you're right about most "mom blogs" making it seem like they are the most patient moms with perfectly clean homes, perfect crafty activities for their perfect children to complete, perfectly decorated/organized homes, and so on. Definitely not the case with me. Some days I feel really defeated. It's something I need to pray for more!

  4. I have never experienced anything as humbling as motherhood. My vices and faults become brazenly clear around the children. Recently, as I walk up the Communion line, I find myself chanting: "Lord, I am not worthy...Lord, I am not worthy..." Our job is to raise saints; in doing so, we have to become saints ourselves and, my goodness, sometimes it is such a refiner's fire! I like to mentally picture myself offering God a jug of water and saying, "Okay, now it's up to you. Turn it into wine!" And I believe He will, as long as I keep cooperating as much as I can with His grace and beginning again...and again...and again. I found it's been really helpful to pray out loud, right in front of the kids, when I am about to lose it. Sometimes I practically scream the Hail Mary. It's hard to stay furious after praying that six or seven times aloud. I also invoke their guardian angels (George and Patrick, respectively. Mary named hers King George, but we just go by George, haha.) I think children learn a lot by our example--that it is okay to be angry, but we need to channel it the right way. And sometimes we, the adults, make bad choices, too, but we need to ask for forgiveness and try better the next time. Please don't ever feel like you're alone, Monica. I think every mother (well, with one exception!) has been in this position before. I know I have been very many times recently! Your post was a great comfort and let's all encourage each other to begin again! "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me" (2 Cor 12:9). :)

  5. This is me almost every day. Thomas is 5 now so I've started getting on his level and telling him that I am getting angry and I NEED space. Usually that helps buuuut I still yell