** Post Note: I wrote this post on Saturday night, but debated posting it. It was a very rough day, and even though I wrote it while tears hit my keyboard – I knew I needed to say it.
I lost my temper with Dominic today. Dominic. My beautiful, perfect, radiant, happy-go-lucky blessing from above. I lost my temper. Those words make me cringe even as I write them. Now, he’s 2 years and 3 months old, so I’ve been around the toddler phase a little while. And yes, I understand that it’s not altogether abnormal to be upset, frustrated, angry and maybe even emotional after a long day chasing him around. I get that. My friends get that. You all get that. I know my mom gets it because not only did she raise me (a feat all on its own), but she’s listened to me cry on numerous occasions when that sweet baby has pushed me beyond the bounds of what my sanity can handle. But I’m not talking about being frustrated, or annoyed because he’s created some new and exciting way to break the rules in my house. Nor am I talking about the “walk away and take a minute before you hit somebody” feeling. No, this was something different. This was a, “yell at Dominic for practically nothing and unable to stop myself even when I can see what I’m doing” temper. Let me just break it down for you:
I’m getting ready this morning, and I’m frustrated because I have to go to a staff meeting. On a Saturday. At noon. To say that’s not the best time of day for me, would be putting it mildly. But I have to go, it’s mandatory. On top of that, I have to go pick up my nephew’s gift for his 5th birthday, that starts directly after the staff meeting. So I already know – I will not have another opportunity to get ready. It’s now or never. And while all of this is going through my head – that toddler of mine is wreaking havoc through my bedroom. I mean, Hurricane Katrina could rip through my bedroom and cause less damage. And of course, Tim is in bed because he’s STILL trying to pass that stupid kidney stone and he’s been in a lot of pain. In fact, we’re contemplating an ER visit at this very moment as I sit and try to make myself look human before the party.
So let’s jump to “the incident.” Dominic comes over near where I’m sitting on the floor and he turns our fan on. Well, you need to know 2 things: 1) We don’t sleep with just any fan. You know those giant industrial fans that keep warehouses cool? Yeah, it looks like that. 2) We’ve told him millions of times, “DON’T TOUCH the fan.” Because one of these days he’s gonna lose a finger. Okay, so he knows. He knows dang well he’s not supposed to turn it on. So Tim gets annoyed because he knows I’m stressed about not only having to DO all these things before noon, but about having to cart Dominic around to do them, instead of getting my typical and much needed weekend break. He tells Dom, “Turn if off, Dom.” …blank stares.
That’s when it happened. I lost it. I stand up and I’m yelling, “Turn the fan off Dominic!” …more blank stares. He’s just looking at me like, “No.” So I get louder. My volume rises and I’m yelling angrier now. “TURN THE FAN OFF DOMINIC.” And now I’ve scared him. But I keep yelling. So he starts crying and now he’s too upset to turn it off even if he wanted to. I don’t even think he remembers what he’s supposed to be doing. He’s 2 remember… this is Mom’s issue now. Not his. And he’s looking at me with these unbelievably beautiful, big brown eyes and crying, “Mama… Mama…” And I’m pretty sure, I’m still yelling.
I stopped short of myself, and left the room. I fell onto the couch, put my head in my hands and wept like a child. No, not like a child. I wept like an adult who should have known better. I wept like a Mother who let all the other stupid things in her life that didn’t matter, get in the way of parenting this amazing child the way he deserves. I wept, like I’m weeping now… with huge, heavy, rolling waves of regret.
I heard Tim open the door and let Dominic out of our bedroom. He walked right over to me, his cheeks stained with tears and crawled up into my lap for a hug. A big hug. A bear hug that only Dominic can give. And he just held me while I cried, and then he looked up and put the sweetest little kiss on my cheek. And with that, I knew all was forgiven. He loves unconditionally. I vowed to put “the incident” behind me and enjoy the rest of my day with him. So after I whispered an apology and an “I love you” into his ear, we loaded up and started our day.
At the birthday party, Dominic got to play in a Foam Pit:
Cut in line and get in everybody’s way:
Watch Ben ride the rope swing with Grandpa:
Take a ride on a Rope Swing:
Play with friends:
Watch his cousin turn 5! (Wow, time flies!)
Happy Birthday Tyson!! We love you!
And eat cupcakes and ice cream:
All in all, the turned day out to be pretty great. It would be easy to dismiss the “incident” this morning. However, with recognition, comes improvement. Tim and I are nowhere near perfect parents, but I feel we excel at one thing: We are constantly re-evaluating our strategies and our methods. What’s working? What’s making Dominic rebel? What’s making him happy? What does he enjoy doing with us? How can we make sure that he is getting the love and support he needs, in a way that he understands it?
I tell you this story in honesty, despite how it might make you feel about me, because I know there are people out there who can relate. Sometimes, what I really need when I’m feeling bad about myself, is just to know that I’m not the only parent out there who is struggling. To know that I’m not the only one who thinks parenting is the most complex, amazing, joy-filled, and confusing thing that has ever been done. How can you love someone to the very depths of your soul and so completely, while literally being so angry at the way they are acting that you don’t even have words? (at least not words that you can use in front of them) And you know what’s so insane? Dominic just bounced right back. He was happy as could be the rest of the day. Yet, I have thought of little else since my “episode.” I thought writing about it would help me to forgive myself and realize, that we as parents, are going to make mistakes. It’s just going to happen. I don’t know one parent on the planet who thinks they did it with perfection. That doesn’t necessarily make me feel better about my shortcomings. But it does provide some comfort knowing that there are people out there who relate to how I’m feeling.
Here’s to a new day, where Moms are perfect and I never lose my temper. …and while we’re toasting to stuff, we might as well hope for perfect toddlers too, right? :o) Who’s with me?
** Leah **
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