The Parenting Cliff

by Ginger on November 18, 2012

in Mom Thoughts

I had one of those parenting moments today, the kind that make you feel like a rotten, no-good, awful parent who should just go ahead and start a therapy fund for their kid now.

The worst part is, I saw it coming. 6+ hours of cleaning the house made me tired and just barely holding on to my frustrations at every.little.thing. Jackson was apparently unable to listen to a single thing we said, defiantly pushing every boundary we put in place for hours. Those two things were a recipe for disaster.

And I saw it. I saw that cliff coming, and knew it was only a few more little steps until I was over the edge of it. And when I got to the edge, and flung myself over it, I KNEW as I was doing it, that this was not how I wanted to react.

Jackson was in the middle of a fist pounding, leg kicking, head shaking tantrum that was accompanied by tears of rage and screams of frustration. He also happened to be in the bathtub, effectively soaking me and everything in a 4 foot radius. He refused to stop. And I lost my cool, and I screamed in a way I try never to scream, my ability to regulate myself gone, and suddenly his crying wasn’t rage and frustration, it was hurt and fear.

All I could think, even as the words were still trailing out of my mouth, was “shitshitshitshit.”

I stopped myself from yelling any more, and I took a deep breath, and I opened my arms to my little boy and I said I was sorry. He climbed out of the bath, soaking wet, and folded himself into me, and I told him that I shouldn’t have yelled the way I did, that mommy got mad, but she shouldn’t have yelled that way. And he hugged me, and his breathing slowed, and within minutes it was forgotten.

For him.

Not so much for me.

I know I’m not a bad parent. I know these moments can happen. I know that one moment of losing my cool doesn’t override the 99% of the time that I have patience and keep myself collected even when I’m frustrated. I know all that.

But I also know that I feel like absolute shit when these moments happen, however infrequently. Every intellectual understanding of what happened in the world doesn’t override that knowledge that I failed in that moment, no matter what the moments before or after involved.

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