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I hate when I’m mean to one of my kids.

I didn’t do something awful – like tell them Barbie dolls come alive at night to nip at their heels while they sleep. Even typing that makes me a little frightened to close my eyes tonight.

But I was not nice.

We were late for school. After we parked, I told Dylan to grab her backpack out of the car and then I, along with Dylan, Summer and the twins made our way to the building. In case you need a visual, I am holding Chase, pushing Harlowe in the Snap and Go stroller (because she’s still in the infant seat) and shepherding Dylan and Summer.

Half way there I notice that Dylan does not have her backpack. So I start yelling about HOW SHE DOES NOT LISTEN.

I give her the keys and watch her run back to where we parked.

She tries to locate the car but she can’t find it. She can’t tell apart six almost identical minivans? What is wrong with that girl?!

As Dylan heads back to me and only a few feet away, I see her run across the street outside of the cross walk.  Now I’m exploding because my mother was almost killed crossing the street.  I shout out, “YOU MUST CROSS IN THE CROSS WALK. DRIVERS CAN’T SEE YOU!!!” I’m yelling at her but really I’m angry at myself because I let her cross alone.

So now I cart Dylan, Summer and the babies all back to the minivan to get the backpack.  And I tell her… “YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR BACKPACK. YOU NEED TO PUT IT IN THE CAR. AND TAKE IT OUT OF THE CAR. AND IF YOU DON’T – YOU WON’T HAVE SNACK. YOU WON’T HAVE LUNCH. AND YOU WILL BE VERY HUNGRY AND SAD.”

And Dylan responds, “Well, when kids forget their lunch, the teacher makes sure they get one. They aren’t hungry.”

“Well, that’s good,” I mutter, thinking how kind and patient Dylan’s teacher is while I’m currently some sort of sweaty, food depriving lunatic. I give Dylan a kiss and watch her run into school.

I will apologize later. I did not handle the situation with calmness.

But a part of me feels like apologizing isn’t enough because it’s my role as a parent to teach my kids how to handle stressful situations with grace. At least most of the time.

I recently read in Amy Wilson’s book “When Did I Get Like This?” the following quote… “I realized that saying you’re sorry for having been a jerk is not really as powerful an example for your children as not having been a jerk in the first place.”

I agree.

So this morning when Dylan and Summer were supposed to be getting dressed but instead SCREAMING at each over the definition of tennis socks (Specifically, is any ankle length sock a tennis sock or does it have to be a certain thickness?!), I suppressed the deep desire to scream, “STOP FIGHTING RIGHT NOW! GET DRESSED. YOU DON’T EVEN PLAY TENNIS!!!!”

Instead, I opened the bathroom door in my towel, asked the girls to stop yelling, examined the disputed socks, declared that they certainly could be called tennis socks although no one needs to actually partake in the sport of tennis to wear them and then sent the girls off to get dressed.

No mean mom anywhere.

Now only 12 more hours until bedtime to display grace, calmness and kindness.

29 Responses to who invited the mean mom to hang out with us?

  • scrappysue says:

    don’t beat yourself up. the situation only became stressful because the backpack was forgotten in the first place. we’re just lucky their heads are attached, eh? i certainly don’t miss mornings like that! big hugs,

  • Alecia says:

    It’s hard to keep your cool 100% of the time. Like you, I beat myself up over it, when I let my tone of voice get annoyed or overly authoritative, but it really is bound to happen from time to time. You are doing a great job!

  • Mel says:

    I know how you feel. I hate the times when I lose it with my daughter and become angry, usually at myself, and lash out. I do, however, think that teaching them that it is okay to apologize, that they never have to save face with people they love and trust, that relationships can survive conflict, well – there’s value in that, too. Maybe not as much value as the handling it with grace in the first place thing, but there’s value.

    • Roxanne says:

      I agree. But that doesn’t stop me from feeling guilty any time I end up yelling at my kid. I apologize when it happens (later, after we’ve both had time to calm down), & we discuss why I got upset or why he got upset or whatever it is that happened.

  • Becky says:

    I agree with Marinka. We all have meltdown moments.

    The leaving the school bag in the minivan is a universal truth about children. I like to think it is because they are so excited about going to school and learning new things, that they just forget about taking it with them.

    Yeah, I’m totally deluded.

  • maura says:

    Good timing on this post!
    I can’t tell you how much I mutter, “They JUST don’t listen…”
    I’m trying so hard to be the patient, calm mom that I had… but I was probably a more attentive child, right?

    Thank you again for the timing of this post.
    I’m going to chew on it today as I wrangle my girls and try to get them to follow simple instructions that Ham-the-chimp-that-flew-in-space managed effortlessly.


  • Jenn says:

    Oh Honey, I know how you feel. I swore I’d never been the screetchy mom, and I’m finding it happen more and more often. I think, though, that I’m vidicated (at least I relentlessly tell myself as much) because I am a wife, mother, full time Manager, sell Avon on the side and run a team for them, blogger (um… we’ll just put that in there anyway) and I’ve just written exams. I’m exhausted.
    But I dont’ have 100 kids… so you’re more vindicated than me.
    *mooches off with head hung low*

  • Oh, I am feeling it. I know that they don’t need vacuous doe-eyed mommies who speak in a whisper, but I would rather have them see me struggle to keep my cool and then actually keep it, than lose it and say “sorry”. Because nothing annoys me more than when my kids act like “sorry” is a free pass, so why should they feel any differently?

  • Patrick says:

    This is a beautiful post. Don’t forget that your job is to be a “good enough” mother, not a perfect mother. If you did somehow manage to be perfect, you would not be preparing your children for the real world they must live in.

  • MN Mama says:

    Thanks for showing you are human and real. We all need this encouragement. Being a mother is the hardest yet most rewarding job I have ever had. I am so honored and grateful to be their mom but I did not expect them to be holding up a mirror to me all the time. I am so incredibly blessed to be so challenged by them.

  • annie says:

    This happens to all of us…anyone who denies it is lying. Or heavily medicated.

    After a day like this once with my oldest, I sat down with her, apologized and told her there might be more like that but I’d do my best not to let it happen. Then I explained I’m still learning how to do this mom thing and will make mistakes. Nobody knows how to do it all right…we aren’t born knowing. We wing it.

    I think it’s fair that they understand that. They have bad days and so do we.

    You are an amazing mom!

  • annie says:

    ps – thanks for this. We’re packing for the weekend and impatient screaming mom tends to show up when we’re trying to get out of the house on time. I’ll remember your words today!

  • Daphnr says:

    I disagree. I think saying sorry for losing it is a huge life lesson. One we are trying very hard to get my 10 year old to understand.

  • grace says:

    I recently lost it on my 5 year old by yelling at him for whinning and screaming for three days straight (yes I see the irony in that). Later that day I apologized to him for losing my mind and his exact quote was “you don’t have to say you are sorry it was my fault”. I felt awful! I told him he is a kid and still learning but I was supposed to have learned patience already!

  • Aunt Marcia (Guess Whose?) says:

    VERY SCARY for Dylan to cross street alone and not in cross walk. I think you were too calm about that; and should have whacked her little tushy hard enough so she’d remember for next time. You also could have hit her over the head with Chase (he’d remember also); then say ‘you’re sorry’.

  • MommyTime says:

    “I realized that saying you’re sorry for having been a jerk is not really as powerful an example for your children as not having been a jerk in the first place.”

    I actually disagree with this. It’s one thing if you’re a jerk all the time (which you aren’t). But I actually think that it’s really powerful for kids to see adults make mistakes, admit they made them, apologize, and be forgiven. It helps kids see that adults aren’t perfect and that just because we correct our kids doesn’t mean we don’t also make mistakes. A good lesson is apologizing gracefully, I think.

  • christine says:

    You’re not alone. Some days are better than others and really, it takes A LOT of practice to actually be patient and understanding. 🙂 We’ll get there, hopefully soon!

  • anna says:

    i have countless stories like this, i’ve found it helps to pretend i am being filmed (but not for a reality show). i got this advice on urban baby years ago. sometimes when the kids really drive me crazy i up the ante and instead of yelling sing broadway music style whatever i want them to do. with jazz hands!

    my kids all agree they’d rather have screaming then show tunes, which just goes to show you can’t win. especially when you’re outnumbered. and it’s early in the morning.

  • amourningmom says:

    You are a great mom – very patient and understanding. No mom/dad can keep their cool 100% of the time.

    I have that book by Amy Wilson on my bookshelf. I need to go read it. xoxo

  • Sabine says:

    There’s a little book called “I Choose” (and its couterpart intended for grown-ups, “I Choose Too”) that has really helped me and my kids in quite a few potentially escalating situations. The premise of these books is: “We are the only ones who can choose what comes out of our mouth, stays in our head, and lives in our heart”.

    Check them out:
    http://www.illuminatedpublishi.....hase_books (not asking you to purchase the book, but this page shows a few sample pages of the book)

    And please don’t believe that I always “choose” to handle a situation in the way I later wish I would have. I totally feel for you. And I agree with many on here, that it is a good life lesson for kids to see that adults make mistakes too, and it’s okay to apologize.

  • Leigh Ann says:

    I totally agree with that quote too (and really want to read the book), but sometimes we just lose it. It’s inevitable. I think a lot of times us losing our tempers and going crazy is more about us than it is them. I had a ridiculous library story time mom fail in which I totally yelled at my kids as I put them back in the car (after leaving halfway thru the program), then payed no one was nearby to hear my frustration. Because not everyone would have understood and I would have been pegged as “that mom.” It wasn’t their fault. It was just the circumstances. ANd we all cried all the way home.

    You’re doing an awesome job.

  • Emily says:

    Ugh- how we have all been there. It’s not a nice feeling to look back and remember. Be comforted in the fact that EVERY mother has these moments. No matter the amount of kids! 🙂

  • johanna says:

    mom guilt is the worst! if I snap the guilt eats me to pieces…but we all have bad days/tough moments/rough patches so I think moms should get a few free passes for every once in awhile.

  • Ann says:

    I constantly stop my self from yelling “WERE LATE WERE LATE OMYGOD WERE GOING TO BE LATE”

    Because what good does that do??

    I love Amy’s book. She is so smart and wise and funny and a way better parent than I.

  • km says:

    when I discovered one child had come to the store without shoes, shoes, SHOES, I admit, I used the “possessed by the devil” voice.

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kelcey kintner