Friday, March 20, 2009

The One Where I Lost My Cool

It's taken me two weeks to work up the courage to write this blog post. I mean, look at me, intentionally posting on a Friday so less people will read the post. I'm a total chicken shit, but I am going to hold myself accountable for my poor parenting.

I yelled at Oscar.

Let me just say, I grew up in a house of yelling. My parents yelled at us kids when we misbehaved or weren't listening; they yelled at each other when they argued, right in front of us. That's just how it was in my house. And I hated it. I knew I was NEVER going to yell at my kids, or argue with my spouse in front of them, because it felt so awful.

And yelling does not work. Yes, there are situations where yelling to startle your kid may be appropriate - when they are about to step into the street unattended, or stick a fork in a light socket, things like that where you want them to pause just long enough for you to get there.

But this is not what happened when I yelled at Oscar. I just totally lost my cool.

It was a couple of weeks ago when Miles first started his growth spurt, so he was nursing all. the. time. Danny had just gone home and I was trying to get dinner ready. I put the dogs outside and Oscar asked me for some more water. As I grabbed the water pitcher out of the fridge, the dogs started barking at the neighbors. I carried the pitcher into the living room, where the back door is, and set it on the table so I could let the dogs back in.

Oscar is tall. Almost three feet (I KNOW!). And as I opened the door to call for the dogs, he snatched that pitcher and dumped the WHOLE THING onto the floor. "Uh-oh. Mess? Mess? Mess?" he said.

I turned around to see about a half gallon of water flooding my dining room. I spun back to the door and slammed it in my dogs faces to keep them from coming inside and running through the ocean of water in my house. And then I yelled.


And then, I kept yelling. Not at him, really, just yelling in general. About the number of times I mop up water in a day; the number of hand towels I go through; the increase in my laundry because of these towels; the number of times a week I have to change Oscar because he's soaked himself; how tired I was in general and how if I never had to clean water again it would be too soon.

After I finished cleaning the water I called for my dogs, who were STILL barking at the neighbors. They did not come. I called again because I could not see them from the door. I checked the front yard, since Valentine has been digging holes under the fence. Nope, not there. Then, I got really angry because I though they'd escaped the yard and I was going to have to go looking for them at 6:30 at night with two children, one of whom was wearing no pants or socks because they were soaking wet.

I stepped into the backyard and saw them standing there, just looking at me. "COME ON! LET'S GO!" I yelled. "COME ON!" No movement. They were afraid of me, because I was so angry. "FINE, YOU JERKS! STAY OUT HERE ALL NIGHT THEN!"

I stormed back into the house, fuming. And there was Oscar, standing by the door. He's started crying. He was holding up his little arms to me, to be picked up.

"All done? All done?" he said through the tears.

"All done?" I repeated, trying to figure it out.

All done. He wanted me to be all done. All done yelling. My 20-month-old was asking me to stop yelling.

I was a total asshole and quite possibly the worst mother ever.

I picked him up and squeezed him.

"I'm all done baby. I'm so sorry. I'm all done."


So there you have it. My worst parenting moment thus far in my nearly two year career as a mom. I've never felt so terrible in all my life as I felt in that moment. I hope that I never, ever yell at my kids again. It did not make me feel better, it did not help the situation, and I am still completely ashamed of myself. My kids deserve better than that.

Nelson got home ten minutes later. He let the dogs in, Oscar was playing happily, but I was a wreck. I'm still not over it. I wasn't even going to write this post and I know my finger will hesitate over the "Publish Post" button, but I wanted to hold myself accountable. To say in this public space that I made a mistake, one that I hope to never make again. I want to be a better mother than that. I hope I can be.


Super Ninja Mommy said...

seriously, it will be ok. my kids are so used to me yelling (not at them, but in general - like at the dog) that they think it's funny. Maybe you just don't yell enough.

go easy on yourself. it could have been so much worse.

Cara said...

I'm sorry Jenni. I've been in your shoes & it sucks. Oscar has already forgotten about it & you will too.

And I know it doesn't feel like it, but yelling isn't the end of the world.

Heidi said...

I agree with SNM - I think my kids are immune to the yelling. I've tried not to yell for the same reasons you do, but the more children you have in the house, the louder the ambient noise and therefore the more yelling. I try not to yell in anger (and fail) but I often find myself doing it just to be heard above the din. How do you keep from doing it more often?

Sarah's Blogtastic Adventures said...

I grew up in a house that was a "yelling house" too. I thought I was cabable of not doing that when I became a parent and I do for the most part, but I do also yell from time to time. Really it sucks but in the grand scheme of things there are a lot of worse things a parent can do. You didnt hit them, you didnt neglet them in a basement for 20 years (have you read that disgusting story) you didnt leave them in wet pants.

It will be okay, kids are resilant and they still know that you love them. It was probably just Another long day and one thing on top of the other was building up till sometimes you just yell. Believe me I know, the more kids, the less help, the harder. : )

Xbox4NappyRash said...

In my useless opinion, if that's your worst moment in 2 years, you've done brilliant.

I was yelled at every day.

Still am.

Peggy said...

Jenni...stop beating yourself up about this RIGHT NOW! The fact that you still feel bad about your little slips speaks volumes about what kind of mother you really are...A Great One!

Cameron said...

Don't sweat it....that fact that you're upset about it is clue enough that you're a good parent.

Keely said...

Oh, hon, we all lose our nut occasionally. I know it's heartbreaking but look at it this way - at least you know that when you yell because it's *important*, Oscar will listen.

You're human, not super woman. Your kids need to know that nobody's perfect and it's okay to lose your shit every once in a while, too.

B J Keltz said...

Oh, honey, look at your life. Two small ones and so much going on...and you've only yelled once? You are a paragon in that case.

Everything will be fine...the boys, you, and all of it. Forgive yourself. Oscar and the dogs already have.

Veronica said...



me too.

Becky said...

I think you're right that yelling doesn't work. But we all do it sometimes. I think the best thing you did was to pick up Oscar and say, "I'm all done. I'm so sorry." I think if we do lose our cool, if we just apologize and talk about it, it shows our kids that, for us AND for them, losing it isn't the end of the world, that there's always a way back.

Anonymous said...

We all have things that we will either do or never do, that our parents did, or didn't do; so we understand. You're not a bad mom, just had a moment of crazy. You're an awesome mom and your kids are lucky to have you.

Casey said...

I know that frustration all too well and I've lost my cool before. The difference is that I must be a big fat jerk all of the time since my screaming didn't even phase Graham. I've only done it twice but I try so hard not to let it get to that point. It's hard with two kids and a zillion things going on and sometimes it seems like the kids are working against you, pulling stunts like that. Oscar will be fine and you realizing that you shouldn't yell means you're a good mom. Bad moms would scream like that all the time without remorse.

Stimey said...

I agree that if that is your worst parenting moment thus far that you're doing really well. No, it's not awesome to do that, but is it normal? Does EVERY mother lose it and yell now and then? Are you a bad mom because of it? Yes, yes, and no. You're a great mom. And sometimes losing it and then apologizing can teach your child that people aren't perfect, and that sometimes there are good reasons to say, "I'm sorry."

I've done this too and it makes me feel terrible. But it happens.

So...still a GREAT mom...NOT alone...and GIANT hugs to you.

mrsbear said...

You're not a bad mom, you're just human. You got overwhelmed and you lost it. Once. The fact that you're agonizing over it and that you manage to exercise control 99.9% of the time speaks volumes. You're right, it doesn't work or solve anything, but there have been plenty of times the pressure builds and the steam escapes me in a rather loud, obnoxious manner. Luckily my kids haven't left me to join the circus or anything. ;) Feel better, it's okay.

Anonymous said...

I think that what they've all said above me is bang on - if it's the first time you've done it in 2 years then you are doing a great job. Yelling at Oscar once isn't going to hurt him - once isn't abuse and it isn't bullying. Please don't be so hard on yourself - if only I were half the mother you are.

Susanica said...

Hi Jenni. I somehow must have missed this post until now (sneaky you posting on a Friday.)

I know what it's like to be around yelling. I grew up with it. Hated it. I haven't yelled at Danny directly but last weekend Su and I were both angry and raised our voices at each other. It broke my heart to see how Danny got instantly quiet and cowered away from both of us. It made me feel so terrible.

I think anger frightens me and I try to avoid it, which then just makes it all the more scary when it does surface. I want to be able to express my anger in a "good" way and I want Danny to learn that too. I guess I don't know what that looks like yet. Feelings aren't right or wrong. They just are, right?

That being said, I can just imagine Oscar looking up at you with those beautiful eyes of his asking you if you were all done. That had to have been heartbreaking.

There will be more anger and frustration. I guess we'll have to find ways to recognize when it's happening and change our responses. -Monica