So. During the course of Sunday afternoon, I:

• Screamed at the tantruming 2-year-old to SHUT UP

• Hauled thrashing toddler to his feet by the neck of his shirt and roughly shoved him towards the hallway, yelling GO TO YOUR ROOM, slammed his door shut behind him at top volume

• Stormed back to his room in order to pound on closed door as loudly as possible, still yelling

• Told the 4-year-old he was being a crybaby for howling when his brother pulled on his shirt

• Fought with husband over something stupid

• Yelled GET OVER IT at toddler for crying about his new shoes

• Yelled at 4-year-old to GROW THE HELL UP after the millionth brotherly wrestlefest ended with him crying

I was ugly, furious, out of control. I imagine my face, transformed by anger, and what it must look like to my children. The unattractive parentheses on either side of my cheeks deepened, brows creased, mouth open. A terrible witch.

At one point, Dylan acted out after being told to stop misbehaving. He threw his cup on the floor with a loud clatter, staring at me, and I started to walk towards him to—I don’t even know. Bark at him not to do that, probably. And Riley saw me coming and clapped his hands over his ears.

I had yelled so much during that day my boy was covering his ears.

At the end of the evening, I made cookies and ate a large amount of the dough. I took three beta blockers. I talked with Riley about how if he needs an adult to intervene when he and Dylan are playing, he should ask for help instead of crying. (Which he immediately put into effect during their next tussle: “Mom! Help! HELLLP!”) I sat Dylan on my lap and indulged his bottomless desire to surf Flickr for pictures of animals. I took slow, deep breaths.

Too late, though. The day had happened, every shameful, shitty, regrettable moment. The moments I hope they forget. Oh please. No need to keep those memories, babies. It’s my job to hold them and learn from them, not yours.

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JennB
12 years ago

I’m sorry… I have the same problem some times. I call these my nominations for “Parent of the Year”. I believe I put my 5 year-old in her bed and told her to “take a nap, before I REALLY get mad”… and it wasn’t a gentle, Pottery Barn tucking in, too. I may have pushed her so that she was lying down on her mattress. And her face. It was terrified. I am so not qualified to raise these little people some times.

Billie
Billie
12 years ago

I’m hoping my daughters have forgotten or at least forgiven me for moments like the ones you described. They are 35 and 41 now, and I still feel horrible guilt about those times! Thankfully, they don’t seem to have been ruined by my bad days!

CBO
CBO
12 years ago

We’ve all had those kinds of days. You love your kids, the love you. Sometimes, things are hard or aren’t perfect. The good thing is that tommorow is a new day and you can move on. You’re a good mom … if you weren’t you wouldn’t have made it this far with them.

Jess
12 years ago

They won’t remember. You’re a wonderful mom who had an off day. I by all accounts had the cruelest, most verbally abusive mother on the planet. (everyone who knows me is nodding slowly) And hell, I still only want to remember the good.

You are by all accounts a freaking rockstar who is an inspiration to people all around the world, while maintaining status of most fun and aware mom ever… so again, I think you’re good. I’m sorry you had such a crapper though. YOU are the one who needs to forget about it.

Sam
Sam
12 years ago

Wow. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for sharing that with the world! I only have one child and I’m pretty sure I had the same horrible rotten experience this past weekend! I was too afraid to publicize it, and I feel a lot better knowing I’m not the only mom who has a rough-go at life with little ones.

Claudia
12 years ago

Life is just full of those days. I will say that they get better when your kids are older. You are able to talk to them and they are able to understand better. They are better able to understand cause and effect. They know exactly why they’re being sent to their rooms: because they are fucking selfish little assholes sometimes and need to chill out. Just like parents. We’re human and we’re often unable to control out anger. Don’t beat yourself up too much. Learning to remove yourself from the anger helps. Learning to distance yourself, to not take every episode personally helps, but it takes practice. And mindfullness. And damn if kids don’t give you plenty of opportunities to practice those skills. Shit happens. We all have bad BAD days. And as long as there are more good days and as long as your sons know you love them more than buttered toast, everything will be okay. There was a very long awful winter once when my daughters (who are 3.5 yrs apart) were about the age your sons are now. It really, really sucked and thought I might have to a) get a divorce and b) give up my children. I didn’t. We got past that and now they just fight over Barbie fairness. Life ain’t fair and shut the hell up about who has more Barbies. I. don’t. want. to. hear. it. :)

KKF
KKF
12 years ago

Thanks for being brave enough to post this, strong enough to recongnize it, and smart enough to immediately start trying new coping mechanisms with everyone (“you need to tell me you need help instead of crying” = genius, genius move)

The weight of regret makes you human. The burden of motherhood makes you superhuman. All of you. Very, very good ones.

From a non-mom to all you superhuman moms and dads out there – I’m so glad you are the good guys.

Penny
12 years ago

I too had a horrible day yesterday and at the end of the night found myself SCREAMING in my three year olds face to “STOP YELLING AT ME!” AHHH the irony was lost on him.

Simone
Simone
12 years ago

Linda – your honesty is so refreshing. So many of us are trying to put on our perfect faces — your blunt truthfulness shows your humility and openness. I appreciate that.

Here’s a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day…..”

Amy
Amy
12 years ago

Oh god, you are so not alone here. This is why I eventually saw a therapist for postpartum depression. For me, it didn’t manifest itself in sadness as much as anger. And I had those same regrets every night as I would lie in bed thinking of all the ways I was emotionally damaging my kids. You are a fantastic mom and shitty days happen. Sometimes they happen over and over again. And you can’t see the light. But the good always outweighs the bad. At least that’s what I tell myself over the guilt I feel over barking at my 4-year-old and 20-month-old. Thanks for your honesty though. Sometimes for me, me saying it out loud to someone makes me more aware when I start spiraling down to that dark place again the next day.

Judy
Judy
12 years ago

We all have those days. I can remember behaving reprehensibly to my children. Today they are adults and they say “I deserved it.” And they still love me, and we’re all friends now. Like with childbirth, the pain fades and only the good stuff stays in your memory.

Veronica
Veronica
12 years ago

That was me last Monday And Tuesday. Except I have four kids to scream at. My husband actually came home from work to save the children from their Crazy Mother. We all have those days, it’s okay.

marcoda
12 years ago

Remember that scene from Monster’s Inc when Sully scares the robot kid and Boo sees it and Sully realizes what he’s been doing to kids this whole time and learns a valuable lesson?

I try to think of that just before I lose my ever loving shit. Sometimes I remember in time, other times I’m not so lucky.

It’s a horrible feeling when you yell like you’ve never yelled before at the people you love like you’ve never loved before. Especially when you only have two full days with a few scattered hours during the week to be with them. God, I hate that feeling.

Not sure where I’m going with this except to say, “I know.” If I knew you in ‘real life’, I’d hug you and say that you in person.

Marie Green
12 years ago

God, I was just telling the ladies at playgroup this morning that I had one of those days last Friday, and it left such an ugly SOUR taste of bitter regret in my mouth that I felt a tiny bit down about it all day on Saturday, which was the girls’ birthday.

I yelled at them on Friday so loudly and furiously and out-of-control-ly that I hurt my vocal cords. And then I ordered all three of them to their rooms, where I then proceeded to swat each of their butts once as they walked by me, cowering.

I loose my temper a lot, but this was soooo… extreme, considering the offense(s). They were just mildly bickering, a soft static undertone to the entire day (school canceled due to storm), and I suddenly couldn’t stand it for one more second.

It still makes me sad. And, though every other aspect of being med-free has been wonderful, it makes me wonder if I *DO* need that stupid effing zoloft after all.

Mrs. D
12 years ago

That sounds like a horrible day. I hope today is better.

I don’t have kids, but I do know that everyone has bad days. Even many bad days strung together.

You are a good mom. Your kids know that, despite the bad days.

akeeyu
12 years ago

I remember my father screaming at us, screaming and punching walls and seeming very big, very scary.

Here’s the thing, though: My father didn’t hit us. He was a good father, a gentleman and a gentle man. I was not afraid of my father. I didn’t tip toe around his ‘temper’, because for the most part, he didn’t have one.

He had moments.

You had a moment.

We all have moments.

I’m not sure how to explain this. These flashes of anger from my father, I remember them, but they aren’t the first thing (or even the 100th thing) that I think of when I remember my father.

sanman
sanman
12 years ago

thanks for that. have you ever sprayed a 2.5 yr old with cold freezing water cause he didn’t want to get out of the godd#*#$ f*&c^n bath tub? yeah its all good- we all have our mommy dearest moments “NO MORE WIRE HANGERSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!”

Joanne
12 years ago

They won’t remember, and you should try to be done with it, too. It’s hard as a stone, this job. It’s not our job to be perfect, to never yell or lose our temper. It’s our job to not commit violent horrible acts just because we have violent, horrible thoughts. Hang in there.

Jennifer
Jennifer
12 years ago

I’m so sorry, Linda. I’ve had moments like this and it makes you feel like ripping your own heart out. But my husband ran across a chapter in “How to Win Friends and Influence People” that completely changed my parenting view! It was all about being realistic about your dealings with certain people – including your children. The whole chapter was about how he was constantly after his son about this or that and always seemed to be disatisfied with him. Then one night when he chastised his son for interrupting his reading, he realized his son had simply stopped by his office to give him a goodnight kiss – and he continued to hug and kiss his father despite being reprimanded. The father felt so guilty and realized at that moment that his expectations of his son were unrealistic. He expected him to be a grown-up, to control his emotions, to be respectful to others in the house, etc. But then it hit him that this was a child, and children in general don’t know how to control their emotions, act like grown-ups, etc.

Anyway, ever since reading that chapter, I look at my kiddos totally differently. When my 18-month-old son has a temper tantrum for the 15th time that day, I simply walk away and wait for him to cool down. I know he can’t control it right now.

KateB
KateB
12 years ago

I swear you live in my head. It is so weird to see my inner-most thoughts written out by a stranger. Our boys are the same age difference (with mine being slightly older) so we seem to go through a lot of the same things. Thank you for sharing and for making me cry it out. :o) And, on a side note, thank you for getting me off my ass and running again. No half-marathon for me, but a 5 mile run that I need to get training for. Hope today will be better and thanks again!

js
js
12 years ago

I think quite a few of us need a do-over for Sunday. My 8 year old daughter was whining and whining and OHMIGOD the WHINING about having to clean her room. The last time she said, “But I don’t WANT to!” my reply was, “Tough. Fucking. Shit.” And that was at 10am, the rest of the day was pretty much sour. I hate these days, and I always tell myself I’ll learn from them, remember how guilty I feel after she goes to bed, but then another day from hell rolls around and the cycle repeats. As someone else said, I’m glad you write about the bad days too.

Sassy
Sassy
12 years ago

I’m nearly 39 and I don’t remember last week, so I think you’re golden. They’ll hang on to the good stuff the tightest. For sure. :)

Clarabella
Clarabella
12 years ago

Something must’ve been in the water (from the PacNW all the way down here to the dirty South) because I had the exact same day yesterday. When yelling at The Boy, it was the dogs. Sigh. Today has been better.

Mama Ritchie
12 years ago

…and then I got my period.

That’s how my stories like these usually end.

Thanks for being honest about the ugly side of parenting. We all have days that aren’t Leave it to Beaverish and it makes me feel much less alone.

Bachelor Girl
12 years ago

Personally, I don’t think you should feel that bad about a little yelling, considering all you have to manage on a daily basis.

Granted, I’m not a parent, but I *am* a former child, and I can assure you that my parents’ raised voices in no way scarred me for life.

Give yourself a break.

akeeyu
12 years ago

Oh, and for the record, I once called my mother after yelling at the girls and tearfully asked her how she got through parenting without screaming like a banshee.

“Are you KIDDING? I yelled all the TIME. My GOD, your sister…and the…and then…Don’t you remember? Of *course* I used to yell.”

And I guess, yeah, if I think about it, I do remember that the first time I heard curse words were the ones coming out of her mouth when we were running late and the damned car wouldn’t start and WHAT ARE YOU TWO DOING BACK THERE? STOP IT! I DO NOT WANT TO HEAR ANOTHER PEEP! but it’s really not in front of my memory.

It didn’t go on her permanent record, so to speak.

Christine
Christine
12 years ago

Yes, me too! The guilt is SO HORRIBLE that I lay in bed every night and ask God to PLEASE HELP ME BE BETTER! I love my girls so much my heart hurts but there are some days when they are not listening or whatever I just can’t take it anymore and I grab them roughly and push them towards their rooms and scream like a lunatic so badly I start to feel like I am going to hyperventilate.

I am sorry this happens to you and me and all of us. I hope they don’t remember this and that I (and all of us) can use these mistakes to take baby steps to be better at handling stuff next time…

Hugs to you!

Anne
Anne
12 years ago

I had that day last week. Things actually went pretty good most of the day, but I was on my own the whole day with two kids and no breaks, and when my three year old had a meltdown because she wanted me to brush her teeth and I told her to hold on a minute (because I was brushing MY teeth), I just completely lost it and yelled at her to “Just give me one fucking second to myself, GOD!” Ouch. Luckily my husband was home by that time and “tagged” me out.

Sigh. You take the good with the bad, I guess…

wealhtheow
12 years ago

I’ve had those days too. You are not alone, and I really think in the end the kids will remember the good things and not the bad from their childhood. Thanks for being honest enough to talk about it–I think our parenting community is so much healthier when we give ourselves a break and realize no one is a perfect parent.

Blabbermouse
12 years ago

You plagiarizing my diary again, girl? How many times I have been there! oh the crazy makingness of kids. It’s so hard. Nice to know we’re not alone, though. Yet another awesome thing about your blog.

Bren
12 years ago

Ugh – those are the moments I relive in my head as I lay in bed at night. It makes me so sad when I lose it too. I just hope and hope that my daughter NEVER remembers the stupid things I end up yelling over.

AndrewENZ
12 years ago

You are so not alone.

victoria
victoria
12 years ago

Oh, Linda, this post really speaks to me. I don’t’have kids but I have trouble controlling my anger, too. My anger has damaged my relationships and my career. I just bought “Anger Management for Dummies,” and am reading it, but so far it isn’t helping (all the early chapters are devoted to persuading you that your anger is unhealthy and is harming you. To which I say, “No duh.”) I hope there are techniques that will help me “disengage from rage,” as they say. But it happens so quickly! My outbursts happen in a flash, before I even know what’s happening! How do you stop something that hits quick as lightning? I have located a therapist and hope that I can get a handle on this.

(On a different note — in response to your Tweet about your school fears: my husband, who went to law school as a relatively “elderly” 31 year old student, after getting his PhD, had the same fears. “What if the other kids don’t like me and won’t let me join their reindeer games?” he said the night before his first class. He ended up almost instantly bonding with a group of ather students his age, and now, 14 years later, they are still his closest friends, and mine, too.

(I think going to school when you’re older is a bit like being an expat living in a foreign country: you end up bonding tightly with the other “outsiders,” and you discover a closer, warmer network than you ever thought possible. This has been the experience of my American Anglophone friends who’ve lived in Hong Kong, Japan, and France. They never really integrated into the local culture, but they made the best friends of their lives with other Americans. You’re going to be ok.)

Chandrika Guntur
12 years ago

Hi,

I came across your blog from Manic Mommies big tent. I really liked this post.

We all loose our cool sometimes and it is not bad. Don’t feel guilty. It will not scar your kids for life and I guarantee that they will be yelling at their kids just like this.

Looking forward to read more posts from you.

Kate
12 years ago

Oh yes. And the fact that you WILL hang on to the memories and let them shape your future behaviors is what makes you a good mom.

I remember once having a similar encounter when my son was about 3, practically dragging him to his room in a near rage. And then later, going to his room, in tears to beg forgiveness and tell him how sorry I was.

We’re all human Linda. And if there is more love and happiness in their lives than yelling and anger, than I think they do forget about the latter. At least I hope so. I’m just so afraid they’ll remember my harsh words and not my apology.

willikat
12 years ago

You’re a good mom. You have good kids. You all had a bad day on the same day.

I barely remember ANY of the times my mom yelled at me (except from teenage years, honestly…none from when I was a little kid, and I know she yelled) and much more of the times she took time to play a game with me or read me a book. Or, even the moments when she said she was sorry for being a mean mommy. (she never really was, but she still asks me from time to time if I remember her yelling when she shouldn’t have. I don’t.)

I think the other important thing is that you made amends. So many parents are either a) friends or b) “you’ll do because i say so” types. A lot of them don’t apologize and model great behavior for when they, eventually, lose their cool, too.

It’s OK. This too shall pass.

Kimberly
12 years ago

My dad did *far* worse, Linda, and he never once said he was sorry or appeared to express any remorse. I think losing your cool is normal. Everyone is weak and human, and it teaches kids something about how to repair what they’ve hurt when they see you own your bad behavior and make amends. I so wish I’d seen that from my dad. I don’t begrudge him the yelling, hitting or terrible, hurtful words. I begrudge the fuck out out of him for never having appeared to regret any of it.

Miss Behavin
12 years ago

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had to say, “I’m sorry,” to my kids at the end of a day like you had on Sunday. Those words go a long way with our kids and prove to them we are only human.

alfredsmom
12 years ago

So been there. A lot. LOT. And I’ve been taking Paxil for the past year to help keep in in check- but it doesnt always work.

Kris
Kris
12 years ago

I remember screaming at my 3 year old, you are on my last nerve! Just go to bed! in my craziest most screaming voice. He would not leave my side, he just burst into tears and said, noooooooooooooooo. Oh, it was a low moment. Soon after, I started telling him, Mommy is giving herself a time out. I’d go sit in my room, just sit. He’d peek in and say, are you done yet? No, not yet. Sometimes that helps. Thanks for sharing, we do all have those moments!

NancyJ
NancyJ
12 years ago

16 or 17 years ago I was screaming like a crazed Banshee at my son for some act of stubbornness or another.
He’s 19, he’s in college, he tells me he loves me every time he talks to me. He comes home to visit because he wants to not because he has to. There’s no scars – physical or mental on him but I had that guilt just like you do now.
It’ll pass! I promise!

Jen - Mom of 4
Jen - Mom of 4
12 years ago

I have totally been there. I think the one lesson we all learn is that parents make mistakes and when we do we have to apologize for them. Your boys are young, but they are learning now that you were sorry. It does make an impact as they grow. When my kidos have a bad day now they will come and say sorry to all of us for their misbehavior.

Cyber hug – I hope today was better!

K.P.
K.P.
12 years ago

I recently came across a passage that speaks to this very thing:

“We all hurt someone sooner or later. What matters is why we did it- and then what we choose to do about it.”

You had a bad day- you’re human, and as long as you’re not made of stone, you’re going to get pissed, you’re going to yell, you’re going to have days where life is a miserable shit-hole.

But even now, you’re teaching your kids something useful. You’re teaching them that you can be angry, you can screw up, and you can lose your temper, just like everyone else.

And then they learn that you can ask for forgiveness, you can right the wrongs you’ve done (or at least do the best you can), and you can survive not being 100% perfect and carry on.

My father and I had some terrible rows when I was growing up, especially when I was a teen. Terrible, hurtful things got said, and I admit there were times when I was afraid of him.

But these days, I remember the things he taught me, his bravery, his selflessness, and that underneath the gruff exterior lies one of the most gentle men that I will ever know. As long as you keep that love and that forgiveness at the core of all you do, even when you mess up, it’ll turn out OK.

bouncy
12 years ago

Omg I am so grateful that you wrote this. I needed that.

Because it’s normal right?

Kristen
Kristen
12 years ago

I’m sorry you all had a shocking day. Looks like most of us have been there.

I think when you have kids it dredges up a lot of(usually painful) stuff from your own childhood. It’s interesting how the things we vowed we’d never do to our own children… we end up repeating ourselves.

I know that talking through my issues with a therapist (a lovely woman with young kids herself who can therefore relate) has really helped me break the anger/yelling/guilt cycle that was making life in our household awful to be in.

Maria
12 years ago

I love that you are so brave to share this with us. For me, it helps to know that I am not alone when I have days just like yours. Truly, thanks.

statia
12 years ago

I think I’ll echo nearly everyone here. We all have days like that. I always feel like I must be the most evil, vile person on the planet. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone. Thanks.

warcrygirl
12 years ago

I’ve had one of those days. Unfortunately, the days became weeks and the weeks became months and the months became three years, off and on. Thank god for Prozac.

Melissa
Melissa
12 years ago

As usual, thank you for your honesty because I’m not alone. And judging by the comments we have a whole crowd of us. I can relate and have had similar days recently. I feel so guilty and horrible afterwards but it’s hard to find a way to channel the anger. Kids can be brutal and unrelenting…I love when people tell me to count to ten. Dude – tried it but would be doing it all day. Cookie dough is the best option. And I’m sure getting it off your chest feels good too. You are not alone and it’s over. There will be more bad days but the good will outnumber them.

Melissa
Melissa
12 years ago

And you are not alone..not because I’m…oops!