A few days after posting a happy-clappy sunshine post about how WONDERFUL motherhood has been lately, I had one of those 0-60 moments where I just couldnotfreakingdealwithitanymore. Granted, I think some of my frustration stemmed from an awesome weekend of hanging out with friends. I forget, as an introvert, that sometimes even just hanging out in small groups of friends can be exhausting and paired with not going to be early (because of aforementioned hanging out), I go through some moments where I am worn thin and don’t even realize it (because I’ve been having fun). It was a really lovely weekend, overall, I managed to behave myself at Easter dinner and participate in mind-numbing small-talk with Boof’s second cousins, and watched Potamus dance to music and explore their boxes of toys, and ate some yummy food.
And then 8:30 pm hit and Potamus wasn’t asleep. Well, after a struggle, where I told him stories and explained how sleep would help, and did his progressive muscle relaxation, and nursed him, and snuggled him, and rubbed his back, he was asleep. And I sneaked out to watch a much needed episode of Millionaire Matchmaker. Five minutes in he was crying, unconsolably, and Boof was off getting gas for his car, so I was alone, and tired and tried to get him to fall back asleep but it kept getting worse until I yelled:
My very embarassed and rational Monday-morning mind hates admitting that AND acknowledges that shouting at a screaming toddler doesn’t actually make the situation better. Ever.
In order to put a stop to my self-shaming, I told Boof what I had done. And I looked my son in the eye, this morning, and told him I was sorry. He might not understand what I was saying, but it was something I needed to do. He was in his high chair and I said,
“buddy, I’m sorry about last night. I yelled at you and that wasn’t fair. You weren’t doing anything wrong, you were trying to tell me something (he was majorly hungry, scarfing down yogurt and crackers when Boof came home and I handed Potamus to him). I’m sorry that I scared you and that you were sad and didn’t understand what was going on.”
I almost started to cry in this apology, looking in his eyes when I said it, and I felt so humble before this quizzical toddler. He looked like he understood what I was saying, and while I’m not sure it will curb all yelling, it was a moment that made think about how I will speak to him in the future. There was something about getting down, looking him in the eye and realizing, again, that he is a person with thoughts and feelings and my crazy frustration level at his inability to communicate is NOT OKAY.
When I step back, and try to analyze the “whys” of what happened, I wonder…is it because of my depression/anxiety? Is it because I’m a burnt-out itnrovert at the end of a long weekend and I need to do some more self-care before I do self-implosion? Am I just a struggling mom who isn’t perfect? A combination of all three? Do I just have ridiculous expectations of myself? Do other mothers yell at their toddlers when they are frustrated?
My son is ten now and we have had this scenario play out multiple times. It happens. Parents yell sometimes. I do the same thing you did, I apologize. I hope knowing you are not alone is comforting in some way.
This has been me lately 😦 my toddler has some separation anxiety which is just driving my anxiety higher and higher. Every time I set him down he cries and I want to follow suit. His cry literally makes my heart race and my brain shut down. I love your approach to making amends. I have been carrying all of the guilt on my shoulders when I lose my cool with him. I think I’ll try apologizing next time.