I got in a fight with JB this morning and while I was in the midst of raising my voice in growing frustration Riley came over to harangue me — wagging his finger and bossily telling me to stop shouting at his daddy — and in a chaotic moment of feeling picked on and misunderstood and marginalized by everyone, I barked at him to SHUT UP. To which he instantly responded by bursting into tears.

I tried to comfort him but he was pretty upset with me, and I was so angry at JB I couldn’t even let it go and so trailed him to the other side of the house, both children jailed in the kitchen and clinging pathetically to the baby gate, basically in order to escalate our screechy argument — pointless and poisonous, but I felt like I might just explode into a thousand pieces if I didn’t get the words out of my mouth. Because it always helps the situation to go ahead and throw out a few insults, right?

Eventually I went back to the kitchen where the baby raised his hands to be picked up and Riley snuck dark looks at me under his eyelashes and when I asked him for a hug he reluctantly backed into my outstretched arms and stood there, stiff-legged. I said I was so, so sorry for yelling at him, and he said, “But why were you yelling at my daddy?”


“Sometimes grownups have arguments, but it doesn’t mean we don’t love each other,” I said, weakly. Was there something better I could have said? I don’t know. I don’t know.

They left without saying goodbye this morning, JB gathering up the kids and sweeping out the door without the usual ritual of see-you-later kisses. I suppose I deserved it, and yet it’s just more evidence of the hurtful actions adults are willing to inflict on each other. Ugly and unworthy in the presence of children. Sometimes grownups fight. Sometimes grownups lose their temper and do stupid things. Sometimes 3-year-olds behave better than grownups.

My little boy who only wanted the yelling to stop, and got told to shut up. My heart beats brokenly today: do-over, do-over, do-over.


76 Responses to “Monday morning”

  1. Sonia on January 12th, 2009 5:10 pm

    Ugh, like most above….been there. Makes me cringe to look back on those moments. One a few months ago was particularly nasty and I was *so* angry, I was almost blind to the fact that it was within earshot of our son. My husband and I don’t fight often, but DAYUM we know how to really get in a froth when we do.

    Don’t be too hard on yourself.

  2. Amy on January 12th, 2009 5:13 pm

    been there, done that, hate it! The suckiness eventually subsides. Sorry you’re feeling crappy….but thanks for sharing. I was beginning to think you and JB were the uber-couple who never disagreed and went around being perpetually cool and together!

  3. Gina on January 12th, 2009 5:26 pm

    Yep, been there and felt horrible afterwards! Thanks for being honest because we can all relate!

  4. AK on January 12th, 2009 5:37 pm

    if it makes you feel any better my day went like this: new phone takes a hiatus from functioning, i have to deal with jerkoffs at the car repair shop and insurance company whose single goal today is to piss me off (dealing with my lemon of a car), i finally get to work and my computer doesn’t work, i choke on a huge gulp of hot tea and spew it all over the non-functioning computer, the keyboard, all my papers and me, and then i have a meeting that goes terribly, terribly wrong. so, know you are not alone – i am your pain sister.

  5. mixette on January 12th, 2009 5:41 pm

    Dooce recently posted the question: which is harder, being a parent or being married?

    Sorry you had a bad day, but you *are* good at both.

  6. Joanna on January 12th, 2009 5:47 pm

    That’s the WORST feeling. How about screaming back at your screaming newborn? As if you could get much more helpless than a two-week-old baby. I try to look at it as practice for behaving better next time; at least in that respect you do get a kind of do-over.

  7. iidly on January 12th, 2009 6:04 pm

    Linda – From one old crotechty vet to one one mom with two kids — okay so you fucked up and made a mistake. So this is what you do. Get a bucket, decorate it any color you like — and since you have two kids you need two. Once it’s decorated, you lable them “R’s therapy bucket” and “D’s therapy bucket”

    Okay got all that? Now every time you fuck up you toss a buck in whoevers bucket you it pertains and when they are 18 you give them this money and say this is for your therapy.

    Works like a charm. My kid is 8 and he has like $5000.00 so far?

    In all seriousness, we all make mistakes. You love your children, it’s very clear. Apologizing is one of the most important things you can do and follow that with love.

    And you do love your children very much.

  8. danielle on January 12th, 2009 6:14 pm

    I think you are amazing for sharing this story. My pride would have stopped me.

    Just remember this: guilt is a useless emotion. You cannot change what has already happened. Don’t carry the weight of it around with you.

    Even if you weren’t the perfect example of how to react in a moment of anger, you certainly were an excellent example of how to behave when you’re sorry.

    Best of all, I bet he doesn’t even remember it by the time he gets home tonight.

  9. Ashley on January 12th, 2009 6:53 pm

    Like fighting doesn’t suck on its own, having your child try to stop it is just more turd on the turd cake. We too have been there more than I care to admit.

  10. Lesley on January 12th, 2009 6:53 pm

    I totally feel your pain and I suppose the only reassuring thing is knowing most people, possibly everyone, has one of these moments several times in one’s lifetime. It sucks sucks sucks, but once the friendly kisses come back – and they probably already have – it will be better. Has Riley shouted at Dylan yet? Sometimes a little comparison doesn’t hurt, though I know…not the same. Adults are regarded as all powerful flawless Gods who can make weather change. (Seriously, a friend’s four year old once asked his mom when she was going to make it stop raining on their picnic.)

    Best of all, you shared. Takes courage to do that. BUT WE’VE ALL BEEN THERE, even if we don’t admit it.

  11. Lesley on January 12th, 2009 6:57 pm

    Btw, perhaps every family house could use a sound proof room with a lock for the parents cuz shit needs to be said between adults sometimes that isn’t the business of the kids or anyone. So don’t feel guilty for getting whatever it was off your chest, ok? You and JB have a relationship strictly apart from the kids. That’s legit.

  12. stormy on January 12th, 2009 7:29 pm

    yes, do over. but don’t beat yourself up over it. but, don’t ever let them leave without good-by kisses and hugs. we lost my brother-in-law at christmas in an accident. he was only 40. no more good-bye kisses. i’ve learned a hard lesson about all that. sad, but true.

  13. Kate on January 12th, 2009 7:33 pm

    Ugh. I’ve been there. Haven’t we all? I remember one time weeping sadly that even though I’d apologized to my son for my behavior, that it would be my snapping at him that he would remember and not the apology.

    I would let Riley see you and JB make up and apologize to each other too (if you’re at that point) so that he knows in his mind that you’re okay still.

    We’re all human, Linda. Thank goodness we also have the power to forgive and forget. Even kids. :)

  14. Kari on January 12th, 2009 8:26 pm

    @mixette: That was exactly what I thought when I read this post – Dooce’s video (with finslippy and others) about which was harder: marriage or parenting. It was an interesting question, even for this divorced, childless person.

    I was not the temper-loser in my marriage. I was the peacekeeper who strongly believed (still do) in the power of a simple, unconditional apology. You may still have a bone to pick or point to make and you will get that opportunity again and you will get it across even better.

    Sadly, my ex never really understood the value of an unconditional apology for his outbursts, and because he was never on the receiving end of them from me, he could never understand why, days after one of his explosions, I was still sort of smarting. Not pouting, just cautious, without any visible bruises to remind him that words do leave a mark.

    Not marital advice, as you are the last to need it. This just picked at an old scar, I guess.

  15. Marie Green on January 12th, 2009 8:35 pm

    Oh, man. Had meself plenty of do-over days too. So sorry. But hey, home is a safe place to be angry- if we were happy-go-luck ALL the time around our kids, they would have a very unrealistic view of the world. Right? (Well, that’s at least what I tell myself, after an appropriate amount of time wallowing).

  16. Victoria on January 12th, 2009 9:01 pm

    *hugs you*

  17. Shawna on January 12th, 2009 9:24 pm

    You know, I don’t think you did “deserve it”. Taking the kids away without letting them kiss you goodbye wasn’t a nice thing to do to you or to them. I know JB’s normally a good guy and great dad, but this particular action – using the kids to punish you – wasn’t cool.

  18. Sunny on January 12th, 2009 10:39 pm

    You’re an awesome Mom and JB is a cool Dad. The fact that you’re worried about the dust-up and feeling guilty proves my point and JB probably felt the same way after he left this morning. When everyone gets home, make a big deal of patching things up in front of Riley. He knows you love JB, Riley knows how much you love him and Dylan, just lay it on extra thick and, if nothing less, you’ll feel a lot better. (Meanwhile, they’ve all moved on to more exciting things and you’re the only one still fretting.) Hang in there. And go for make-up sex!! Heh heh!

  19. ivymae on January 12th, 2009 10:40 pm

    We ALL have these days. We do, and we all stew in our guilty juices, until someone broaches the subject with down cast eyes, and we all break into chorus of “Me too me too me too.”

    Which is to say: yes. Yes, you messed up, and yes, you will do better next time, and yes, you have a community of parents here who are thankful for your honesty.

  20. Kim on January 13th, 2009 3:56 am

    I hit a high note in my parenting saga as well. My husband was out playing in front with my son when his phone rang. He answered and continued to play, but a couple moments later I heard my son screaming. I went out and grabbed him (since it was hubby’s work on the phone) and when he screamed louder I assumed it was because he was told to come inside and didn’t want to so needed a time out.

    Hubby came in once his call was over and told me my son FELL OFF HIS TOY and that is why he was crying. I just made the assumption he was throwing another fit (he just turned two…)and left him to suffer through his ouchie elbow (long sleeved weather you know…could see no wounds)in time out. I am such a douche.

    After he calmed down he showed me his ouchie and even asked me put some liquid band aid on it. I can’t wait till communication is better so he can scream less and tell me off more.

  21. kristylynne on January 13th, 2009 7:28 am

    We fight in front of our kid far too often. Not bad fights, but still. I will say this, though. My parents never once fought in front of me as a child. NEVER. Not that they didn’t fight, they just never let me know about it. And so I grew up with totally unrealistic expectations of relationships and for a very long time I could not deal with conflict.

    As a result of that, I went on to date a long series of great men who I immediately dumped as soon as we’d have our first fight. I was well into my 30s before I realized that normal couples fight, and that’s OK. And then I FINALLY was able to commit to a relationship and get married.

    So. I think that your kids seeing you fight (occassionally, and then kiss and make up) may actually be beneficial in the long run.

  22. Krissa on January 13th, 2009 7:55 am

    Chalk one more up for the “power of an apology” camp – I’m not married, not a mother. But in living with people I love, and most recently with my best friend for going the last 3 1/2 years, I have had to learn that my outbursts hurt people. In fact, what I’m *trying* to do is hurt the other person when I lash out. I hate this quality in myself. I have made a conscious decision to apologize when I do this: a true, heartfelt apology about my actions. Yes, this means I eat crow after an argument. I think owning up to my own blame helps me move on and grow from the experience.
    Which isn’t to say that the other person is right, and I was wrong – that’s not it. My actions warrant the apology, and hopefully from there we can have a conversation about whatever became a fight, without the blame game.

    You’ve posted an update already – I’m really glad the evening was good. I hatehatehate that sinking, lost feeling after an argument. I hope you and JB found some time to make up, too. ;)

  23. sooboo on January 13th, 2009 11:14 am

    Seems like I’m a little late to this. One thing I’m still trying to learn is when I get hot under the collar, to take a breath and walk away. I’m not that good at it and I can’t imagine how it feels to have little eyes on you, holding you accountable. Sheesh! The whole don’t fight in front of the kids thing made me think of this Simpsons episode.

    Marge and Homer have an argument in the car. Marge turns on the radio.]
    Marge: When I was young, I always hated knowing my parents were fighting!
    [Bart, Lisa and Maggie watch from the house.]
    Bart: They’re fighting in the car again.
    Lisa: That music always sends a chill down my spine.

  24. Katie on January 13th, 2009 3:39 pm

    I know the 73 comments before mine say the same thing, with out even reading them. But I want to say it too. I have been there. And it feels terrible. But you did the right thing in telling R you were sorry. And he will learn how to tell others he is sorry from it. Thank you for sharing. It really makes me feel so much better that this happens in other homes too.

  25. LLL on January 13th, 2009 4:41 pm

    Okay–I get JB being mad (well maybe) but having him take the kids without the usual goodbye kisses. That’s bullshit, way to use the kids as a weapon.

  26. Anne on January 13th, 2009 6:34 pm

    As it should.

Leave a Reply