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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Maria
12 years ago

We watched Where the Wild Things Are a couple of nights ago.

I cried the whole time.

And then I went into my son’s bed and cried some more.

I could have written this post. Thank you for writing it.

shelley
12 years ago

my day was today :( trying to get my 2 year old to sleep. my sweet boy flinched when i stomped to his bed for the gazillionth time to put him back in bed. i shut his door and went into the shower. i wonder how many cuddles it takes to make up for it?

Stacy
Stacy
12 years ago

As everyone has said…it happens and as long as it isn’t happening all the time, you are just human like the rest of us.

If it is a regular occurance then you need to figure out the problem and find a solution. Sounds like you could have used a break.

As a mother of 5, I pay someone to give me “one day off” that I use to do whatever I want to do. It is worth the money and my mental health to pay for the sitter. And I don’t feel resentful of my husband if he isn’t always “johnny on the spot” helping me. And a happier mother makes for happier kids.

Jen
Jen
12 years ago

Ah, it happens to us all. Learning from it, letting it go, moving on … you’ve got the recipe.

Lauren
Lauren
12 years ago

As someone who grew up dealing with far worse, I just wanted to say thanks for putting this out there, for owning it, and for recognizing it was a bad day. It’s healing for me to see parents who recognize when they mess up and actively want to do it better next time.

I think all parents explode sometimes, and all kids deal with crap, but it sounds like yours know how much they’re loved and wanted, and in my book, that usually is more lasting than a bad day.

Kim
Kim
12 years ago

If they remember it when they are older, it will be the day mom lost her mind. They will laugh about it because it is not their normal.

Dani C.
Dani C.
12 years ago

Been there, done that…many times with my 4 year son and 5 year old daughter. Some of those times are engraved in my mind and heart forever…other of those times have erased themselves from my mind.

I love what you said here: “No need to keep those memories, babies. It’s my job to hold them and learn from them, not yours.” So, so very true.

Keep your chin up.

Kate
12 years ago

Of course other people struggle with the same thing. It’s recognizing it and learning from it that’s important.

I think it’s a mix between what Jennifer said somewhere above this – about altering your expectations of how children deal with their feelings – and learning to walk away when you feel yourself losing your shit.

melissa
12 years ago

just found your site – just saw this post and the HUGE number of comments. SO glad I’m not the only one! love the site.

Amanda
12 years ago

It’s those last lines that kill me. Oh, that they let us keep those moments.

Dawn
Dawn
12 years ago

Ouch, my heart just aches after reading your post and recognizing myself on my less than stellar parenting days.
Thank you for your brutal honesty. I am stinking sick of mothers who pretend that everything is lovely, when this is the hardest f’ing job on the planet and sometimes I just suck at it.

Erin (Snarke)
12 years ago

I think you’re okay until they’re teenagers. Then, even if you only frown once a year they’ll still react with “whyyyy are you alwaaayyyyys maaaaad at meeee?” For now I think they’re still in a pretty forgiving place.

You’re doing better by them by letting them see you angry every once in a while than you would if all they ever saw was smiles. If they never see you mad they won’t know how to deal with anger when it happens to them (or to the people around them)!

vickey
vickey
12 years ago

My son always says his shoes don’t fit, and kicks them off after I’ve just got them on. Any shoes, any size. This enrages me.

Last weekend I found myself yelling in my four year old’s face to just put the damned ice skates on, or while all of his friends had fun without him he could just sit there by himself & cry. After much yelling & tears, I realized the stuffing was still in the toes of the skates…

I am very impatient & easily frustrated, as is my son, so you can imagine how many scenes like this we have. The absolute best thing to make all of you feel better is to tell them how crazy you were acting, while doing an over-the-top impression of yourself. You can see the stress melt from their faces, and it gives you a moment to forgive yourself, too.

Kim
Kim
12 years ago

I definitely have my days like this, too. It reminds me of a line I heard from a play called “Mom’s the Word” which goes something like this:

“I wake up in the morning with aspirations of being Mary Poppins with the kids, and go to bed at night feeling like Cruella De Vil.”

Just repeat to yourself: tomorrow is another day to start fresh and be more patient.

angelynn
12 years ago

Well said. There is so much up and down with little kids. One minute they’re fine the next they’re screaming. Then you’re yelling and eventually everything is fine. Aaaand back again. My boys are way more forgiving than I am. I feel so guilty when I’m the one who can’t hold it together. Then there’s that magic reset button that gets pushed. Something random happens that jerks us back into reality. What were we just yelling about? I dunno. Can we have a icee-pop?

Niki P
12 years ago

Been there, done that and have the gray hair to prove it. Everyone has these days- don’t sweat it.

Lippy
12 years ago

Hmmm, sounds like last week for me. I was stellar when yelling at the three year old, while repeatedly slamming the door. Then a few days later she got mad and I could see how she is modeling my crappy anger management. So I pretty much suck. I will do better this week.

Leanne
Leanne
12 years ago

You are a good mom. I wish my mom had reflected more on these things. You inspire me. Really, you do.

SKL
SKL
12 years ago

You’re reminding me of things I’d rather not think about. But the weird thing is, even when I say I suck, my kids insist I’m a “good Mommy.” I am not sure how that works, exactly, but it probably has something to do with the instinct to cling to sanity.

I have a really good memory, but I can’t remember anything “bad” before age 2. So I think you’re OK with Dylan for now. As for Riley, think of it as an opportunity to teach him that you’re human and no human has endless patience, even though we’d like to. Nothing wrong with him learning that.

tanya
tanya
12 years ago

I swear it’s part of the point of having children. The process will test and retest and hone and pull apart every piece of you. It’s not just for them. No one gets to have the perfect life growing up. The more perfect it is, the less able we are to handle imperfection as we grow older. You are doing so well. Your boys know they are loved. You are human and beautiful and it’s all part of it. Bad days are part of it. you are great.

Nicole
12 years ago

I agree with everyone who has said that you are probably more marked by the day then them. I know that feeling, at the end of the day, when you just want a do over so that you can fix all the stupid mistakes. But honestly, I think that you shouldn’t feel guilty about losing it when the kids are being impossible. I think acting like a robot who never gets mad is bad for kids. Showing them that moms get mad too, and then you get over it, and act better afterwards is an important model for them to see. When my 4 year old flips out over something I always tell her that its ok to get mad, if she wants to/needs to be mad for awhile, I understand. So why would I not allow myself the same thing?

Tricia
12 years ago

I had one of those days Sunday, except I have no kids. So my poor fiance bore the brunt of my repeated attacks. I was literally SHRIEKING and SPITTING FIRE. I don’t know what my problem was but I was basically stompy all week into the weekend and then monsterlady reared her ugly ugly head Sunday.

Sigh.

I know that having this happen with your kids instead of just your husband/fiance is far far worse but man, I’m pretty sure the guilt and shame is the same, cuz I am right there with you.

Yesterday was exponentially better, which caused me to pause and think WTF was WRONG with me this past weekend. Hello Sybil! Sheesh

Nila
12 years ago

Been there, done that. Who hasn’t? And those who say they haven’t are lying. We’re only human after all.

I don’t beat myself up over moments like those. My kids have so much love, I know that a day like that will be a fleeting moment in their memories and a little rough talk doesn’t do much harm. If anything, they’ve learned to behave when I’m a bitch on wheels.

Jeanette
12 years ago

Don’t worry. My kids are both adults now. One day I grilled both of them on things I remembered doing and saying when I was a less-than-stellar parent and neither one remembered a thing! Sure eased my mind!!

kootnygirl
12 years ago

I’m coming to this late, but I’m so, so glad I came. As awful as it is, I am grateful for this post. I’ve been there, really:

http://rhapsodyinbeige.wordpress.com/2010/01/09/different-scars-but-scars-nonetheless/

I understand the shame of which you speak, understand it far too well.

We’ll both do better today, I’m sure.

valeta
12 years ago

Me too. Me too.

Cheryl S.
Cheryl S.
12 years ago

I have SO been there. screaming like a harpy, knowing I’m out of control. My Jessica will tell me later “Mommy, promise you won’t yell like that again.” I try very very hard to keep that promise. I cry quietly after she goes to bed when I don’t. Hang in there. {{{{HUGS}}}}

Must Be Motherhood
12 years ago

I thank the lawd for your honesty and the community you’ve created here. Because now I know that we are *ALL* raising our children with a dose of the witchy. And I suspect, now that I am a parent, that all of humanity has been raised this way. (May explain the state we’re in…but how else do overwrought human parents respond to testy little human children?)

Karl
Karl
12 years ago

For some 17 years now I’ve occasionally beat myself up over the time I bloodied the then 13-year-old’s nose for him. He entirely, 100%, unequivocally deserved it, but my response was caveman at best. Certainly I never hit any of the others like that, nor him at any other time.

The kid in question is 30 now. I just a few months ago found out that he didn’t remember, and when we talked about it, his reaction was along the lines of “Oh that! Oh, now I remember. yeah, I was being a giant sized a**hole, trying to see how far I could go, I’m surprised you didn’t put me in the hospital.”

So I guess the moral is that you can always try to do better, but kids are tough and sort of know when they deserve the yelling and whatever. Take the mental energy being expended feeling bad, and redirect it to deciding how you are going to quietly and delicately nail their asses the next time they act out… :)

bec
bec
12 years ago

Everyone has these days. Unfortunately, we’re human and they are just unavoidable. As so many have pointed out already, the good so much outweighs the bad for your boys. They clearly know, deep down in their bones, that they are cherished by both of you.

You’ve also given them the gift of letting them see that Mommy sometimes makes mistakes. More importantly, that when she does make mistakes, she can admit that she has, and works to do better next time. That is truly wisdom.

Next weekend will be better.

jessica
jessica
12 years ago

thank you for posting this, Linda. thank you for being so honest.

Sarah in Huntsville
12 years ago

I had exactly one of those days last week with my 16-month-old, an entire evening I wish I could just erase. I don’t like knowing how horrible I can be to someone I love so much. It’s just…awful.

Melissa
12 years ago

I have these moments way too often. While they’re regrettable, they’re only much more so if we don’t learn from them. At least we’re making the most of a bad situation.

6512 and growing
12 years ago

You are so not alone.

Kate
Kate
12 years ago

Thank you. Thank you for admitting that those days happen. Not only are you not alone, you make a whole lot of us feel like we’re not alone, either.

Valerie
Valerie
12 years ago

Thank you for sharing. I needed to know I’m not the only one.

tina
12 years ago

I’m just chiming in to what everyone else is already saying but: I hear you. I hate those fucking days. I hate lying in bed in seeing myself in replay in my head. I hate myself when that happens. Every day I will myself to NOT GO THERE. It’s exhausting to beat yourself up. Thanks for being so honest about it. I usually just curl up in a ball of shame.

Akofaolain
Akofaolain
12 years ago

That was me, last night. As always, thank you for your honesty, and thank you for reminding me I’m not the only one.

lee
lee
12 years ago

hey, you didn’t hit anybody, so it’s all good in my book!

“people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” ~maya angelou

Laura
12 years ago

I’m sure others have left the same comment. However, I’ll still add my two cents. There is not one Mother in this world who has not had a day like that. If they say they haven’t then they are lying. Period.

It’s ugly, the follow moments or days are filled with regret, but we are human. Humans who have bad days, who lose control.

The key is to not make every day that way. I promise the kids remember more of the good days.

Nancy
Nancy
12 years ago

Chiming in to say BTDT, too. Two weekends ago with our 2.5 year old twins was the absolute worst — thank goodness things have been a bit better since then. It was just a day… everything we did was wrong by them, everything they did and said (accompanied by much whining and poking of each other) was wrong by us.

I called my mom that night and said, “How did you let us all live through this age?? You lived through it too, so it has to be a phase, right??” She was highly sympathetic and acknowledged that as parents, we all have better days and worse days — and the same for all of us as kids. she mused that it will get better… and then it’ll get worse. yay.

Thank you as always to Linda and all the commenters for your honesty, even when it stings. We’re all in this mess together, and it helps to know that sometimes other moms have the same kinds of days/moments.

Job Search Engine
Job Search Engine
12 years ago

I read the entire blog post. I see what you’re trying to say, but not everthing was clear.

Camille
Camille
12 years ago

This post brought tears to my eyes, because I’ve had that day. I’ve had that night. I don’t know how to make it not happen. Thank you for being honest about the ugly part of parenting. Hope today is better for you.

Emma
Emma
12 years ago

Tears for me, too. Thank you for making me realize that I am doing the same thing sometimes, and making me more cognizant of how I am reacting. And how I look to my boys. But we’d all be lying to swear we’d never to it again…as much as it breaks our hearts afterwards. Why is it so hard for us to learn? Oh yeah, because we’re human. And boys are boys…

Sonia
Sonia
12 years ago

If I had a dollar for every time I needed a do-over on a day? YEAH.
You aren’t alone. Those days are just the SHITS.

Jeff
Jeff
12 years ago

Been there. Several times. Never know what I am going to say or do in those moments, but always ALWAYS regret them later.

and I know that there will be more “episodes” like that to come.

I also think that there probably are people out there that don’t have those episodes, but is it me or are those people’s children just the most spoiled and obnoxious and intolerable people in the world? Kind of like their parents, actually.

Chin up. It happens. You’re out of the running for “Best Parent in the Universe”. Welcome to the club, and get over it.

Sara
12 years ago

I am *so* happy when you post things like this. Because I have those days, too (I have a 4-yr-old son and an almost 1-yr-old son), but I’d never know that it was normal if it weren’t for people like you, who has the balls to let it all hang out. THANK YOU.

What the hell did they do before blogs existed??? Crickey.

Sara
12 years ago

HAVE the balls. Have have haaaaaaave. I hate typos, and I can’t just let them be. THAT IS ALL.

pixielation
12 years ago

I am so relieved to know that other people sometimes have them too actually.

Amy
Amy
12 years ago

I laughed and cried while reading that because it sounds so much like my evening last night. FU@K hormones and my lack of self restraint! And thank you for letting me know that it happens to everyone sometimes!