Sunday, March 22, 2009


I like to consider myself a person who treats my children nicely. With respect. As I'd want to be treated myself.

But many days, more so recently, I'm not filling the bill as much as I would like to. As a matter of fact, I'm rather ashamed of the things I say and do to my own children.

Now, don't go calling Child Protective Services on me. I don't think my words or actions would be what anyone would consider abuse. I've never called my children stupid, I've never told them to shut up. I only spank them with fair warning (as in "if you go into the street, you will get a spank" which is followed with an explanation before the swat.) But, in my mind, I know that I would be fuming mad at anyone who spoke to my kids the very way I have been doing for most of their Spring Break (this past week).

I could give you a laundry list of the comments I have spat at them, in tones much too loud for the simple confines of our minivan. Suffice it to say, they made my kids hang their heads in shame or even come to tears. These sweet, good-natured, polite children are having their self-esteem chipped away daily by the very person with whom they should feel safest. That's how it feels to me, anyway.

"Why don't you listen?!?!"
"He's your brother! Your flesh and blood! You should be nicer to him than to your silly school friends!!"
"That's it. I'm done being nice to you all."
"Quit being so annoying!!"
"You are old enough to do it yourself!!"
"Can't ANYONE help me here???"

The anger is like a monster that I keep trying to push down inside me, but the harder I push the harder it pushes back. And, when the smallest thing sets me off, POW! There it is. And it doesn't matter at whom it's directed. Young or old, male or female. My anger is an equal-opportunity emotion.

I'm shocked and appalled at myself that I treat my own children like this. I've said before, how many times can I apologize to my kids for getting angry before the words are just lip service? I know lots of parents get mad at their kids, but I don't want to make myself feel better by comparing myself to someone who treats their kids even worse than I do mine.

Hmm, re-reading this post, I hope I'm not coming off as a person who goes into an uncontrollable rage and starts going psycho. Not at all. I just get frustrated easily. But I'm just saying that my patience threshold is getting lower and lower. I can easily see how people get to the point of beating their children. I don't mean that I condone it! I mean, I think I comprehend how the disconnect happens from thought to action. Here's what I mean: I don't know if beating your children is so much a conscious choice as much as it may be that you have seriously left your mind and are just acting in a primal way. Fight or flight, and since we can't escape our children, the fight instinct kicks in. Again, please understand that I don't even spank my kids any more... that is the punishment carried out by their dad... but I can understand the mental decline of folks who take discipline too far. I have it very squarely in my mind that laying my hand on my child to help ME release my own anger is wrong. I would never cross that boundary. But for some people who don't realize that they are about to cross that boundary, it becomes a very slippery, relentless, slope.

So. Back to school tomorrow. Probably the best thing in the world for my kids. Summer will be here soon and I think I am actually a little better prepared for summer than spring break, because it's like I'm bracing myself for 3 months of nit-picking, bickering, arguing, fighting, begging, crying, whining, etc. But on Spring Break I just forget that I'll have the kids all to myself for a whole week and so I haven't psyched myself up for the battle.

I just get so sad. I want my children to get along well but I really feel like I simply don't possess the skills to teach them how. I'm a big believer in giving kids specific instructions. Like, don't say "Be nice to her." Instead, say "Tell her why you like to play with her, and she will tell you what is most handsome about you." That type of thing. If I could just figure out how to get my kids to not push each other's buttons and just to be a little more easy-going, I think I would be able to deal with the occasional bickering a little better.

Until then, maybe I should just put on a housecoat and put my hair in rollers and wear no bra. Then, people probably wouldn't even bat an eye at my behavior.


Anna See said...

This is so hard. I hate it when I feel this way. I agree that hearing about people who treat their kids worse than we do isn't really a consolation. Today is a new day, and a day in which you'll have far fewer kids in your house, so I hope you'll get a nice break!

April said...

I think that is every paents dream. Also, I wear a robe and no bra all the time but don't concider myself white trash or a child abuser. Just comfy in my own home.

Chris said...

Wow. That's a rough post to read.

I know that I can hit that point where, if I take one more step, I will pass the point of no return. That's when I usually have to remove myself from the situation.

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 said...

I think you feel the way many of us felt over Spring Break--it can get very hard. In your anger and less than perfect moments, you are showing your kids we are not perfect and in your apologies you are teaching them to be humble and admit their mistakes.
I know very few siblings who actually get along at this young age. When my kids get really crazy, I have the older ones write essays on how they can improve a situation (last one was 'why it is important to be quiet and behaved in the car)--this works on so many levels 1. helps in their writing skills 2. makes them think of ways to behave 3. gives me a little piece and quiet(!!!)
And I am not nice on essay grading--it has to be a certain number words, flow and grammatically correct.
Every night this week, I have also had a glass of wine; this helps too ;)

Cookie Crums said...

I truly believe that there are more of us who feel this way than admit it. You are not the only mother that has these feelings. Knowing where the line is that you can't cross is the big issue though. I only have one child so I can't imagine having to deal with multiple children and all the craziness that's involved.

Being a mom (as I have learned this past year and a half) certainly is not always a walk in the park..... but the most rewarding job ever.

Hope you have a great day!!!

Nicole O'Dell said...

I'm sorry you're dealing with this. Hang in there! You're not the first mom who's lost it with her kids! BELIEVE me!

Kirby said...

Don't beat yourself up about it! All moms have that breakdown, I know I do all the time, and it makes me sad that sometimes I have to yell just to get my point across! Your kids will always forgive you...!

Jennifer said...

My mom would get so angry at my brother she would leave the house so that she wouldn't hurt him. She knew that she was at her limit so she would walk away, which is the total right thing to do. I think I'm going to have to be that kind of mom too. I would love to be one of those patient mothers that handles every situation appropriately, but I'm not. The way I see it is that at least I know my weaknesses and can work around them.

Debbi said...

read this over and over:
I am a NORMAL mother.

vanna said...

hugs, i too am guilty of going off the deep screaming end, it just gets so frustrating repeating yourself 500000000 times a day!!

Christine said...

I was ready to have margaritas at 8:00 am to celebrate the girls being back in school. Luckily they both do a lot of summer camp, vbs, and activities...or I think summer would be pure hell. You are not the only one who wants to pull your hair out just so you know!

Eudae-Mamia said...

A dear friend of ours told this as much before we had our first - "You will think it, but you won't do it. You will understand."

I sometimes have to pretend that I have a nannycam in my house to keep from saying the things that are swirling around in my brain. Pretty sad that it takes someone else "watching" me, you know besides my kids, to get me to control my anger some days.

It works. Most of the time.

Hugs my friend. Normal mama, indeed.

Noah's Mommy said...

this post made me want to call my mom...and tell her I'm sorry for making her say most of those to me at one time or another.....(holding my head in shame)

Carrie Thompson said...

Hey you,

I cant imagine writing that post...I love your honesty. I could however very well have written the post! As I am sure most moms can! I am often asked, "how do you do it all day, all the time?" and I always answer, "I dont really know, I just get through it."

But that isnt true, just getting through it means I survived... I dont wanna survive my kids child hood! I wanna thrive through it. I wanna teach and train them up in the way they should go. I want them to have good hearts, be sensitve to others, be less selfish and more giving.

I know we all do... but we actually have to do something in order to achieve that! That is the hard part!

I fail... ALL THE TIME.

But the next day, I get up and go again! I apologize a lot, I talk, train, think, try things, change how we do things, read books, apologize some more!!!!

get the picture! WE are all there....

Did you EVER thing it would be this hard? I know I didnt!

dianthe said...

i think every mom in the world could have written this post whether we want to admit or not - i feel this way and i only have one kid - and she just turned one - i often think her first full sentence will be "you are wearing mommy out!" because i say it so often! hang in there - you're the doing the best that you can - and your worst is still better than a lot of moms' best!

Jen said...

I so understand you in this post. I too speak terribly to my children. I often wonder why children are so forgiving. I am thankful for that but feel that their forgiveness comes too quickly.
I hate it when I let my anger and frustration get the best of me. But I am human and so are you.

The Nice One said...

You know, take a few deep breaths, and see if you can catch a break. It happens to us all. It isn't Leave It to Beaver...

momma said...

i know you feel bad, but i'm sure you are not a bad mom! kids have a way of getting under our skin. i think we all have been there and all understand!!

Jen said...

Thanks for the comment on my blog! I teach 4th and 5th grade. I am a special ed teacher and I work with my students in their regular ed classes!

Hope you're resting today after a much needed break from your Spring Break! Heehee!


E said...

I'm sorry you guys are in this hard place with each other right now.
Having a sweet and harmonious house is such a gift we can give our kids and when we fall too far short the frustration and despair do little to motivate our better selves.
I am going to go out on a limb here and say this may not be about your kids at all, or even your patience levels. I suspect you are dealing with some deeper frustrations and these interactions with the kids are the manifestation of whatever you are trying to resolve.
You can get what you want out of the kids and you already know how. Ignore 90% of the negative behavior and reward even the tiniest good sibling behavior. Decide that only three behaviors matter and forget all the rest. Modify only those three with a reward system and a sticker chart that governs the whole thing taking you out of the equation as the bad guy and keeping you in as the rewarder.
Everyone will want to get in on the good stuff. Behavior modification is pretty simple with good healthy kids who want to please you.
You can fix this.
But you might want to think about what is making you feel so edgy.
This might be one mama who needs some non busy time to take stock and relax a little. I would wonder who the critical voice sitting on your shoulder is.... Is somebody around you now, or maybe earlier, highly critical? Are you feeling judged by this current or old voice? I think you need to be gentler with yourself and then being gentler with the chaos of young kids will come easier.
And have a glass of wine at 5.
And put your favorite most upbeat music on your ipod and listen to it for ten minutes any time you really want to throttle them.
And take a hot bath every night no matter what still hasn't gotten done. ( A little wild sex with Texas Papa might just mellow the whole thing out too )
Good luck Mama, go take that bath....maybe with a little chocolate????

Bridgett said...

I hate spring break.

Kristen said...

We have all been there. And I only have one kid...whom I can easily pick up and put her in her room. Barricade the door and drink wine.

Just remember to apologize for being a "cranky mommy" and tell them how special they are.

Just today J-bug said "mommy you love me all the time. you say it all the time" Smart girl she is. And a holy terror at times too.