It wasn't the first time it had happened, and I'm sure it won't be the last. But it happened yesterday: I lost my cool.

My five-year-old stayed up late the night before, woke up early the next morning, and had proceeded to be a complete and utter pill all day. When he wasn't whining incessantly, he was having temper tantrum upon temper tantrum -- I'm talking full-on meltdowns -- about something as trivial as wanting something different than what he was served for lunch.

I knew he needed a nap. A nap would help him rest and hopefully allow him to wake up a more cheerful, happy person. And yet, every effort at a nap was rebuked. He didn't want to take a nap, he said (or wailed, rather), he wouldn't, he couldn't and he won't!

I tried multiple times to put him back to bed, and each time I could feel myself getting more and more frustrated with him. After the last time, he was yelling and screaming in my ear so loud, I just lost my cool. I could feel the heat rising up in my throat, my anger at him not doing what I wanted him to do was red hot. "Why won't he just REST?!?!?!," my mind screamed!!! I didn't understand why he just wasn't GETTING IT!

I don't get this mad very often, but it's a scary feeling for me when I do. I've never struck any of my children - but there's that moment in the heat of the anger when you wonder if you will truly lose your mind. After yelling a few angry words at him, I slammed his bedroom door and stomped downstairs to give myself a "time out," some time to cool off. He was still screaming his head off upstairs, but I needed five minutes to myself to recollect my emotions.

I'm the mother, I'm the adult. I'm the one who's supposed to rise above the petty taunts my children throw my way, to show them what being more mature and responsible looks like (boy, do I mess that up pretty regularly!). But I failed. I lost my temper and showed him that I could stoop to his level and match him yell for yell.

I felt horrible that I screamed at him, I felt defeated that I let him get me so riled up. Shouldn't I just tell myself, "Who cares if he takes a nap? So what if he's going to be a complete a$$hole all afternoon now? We'll just roll with it." Usually I can, but today, he just got the better of me.

Once I'd fully calmed down, I apologized to him and told him how much I loved him. But still the Mommy Guilt lingered. I felt less than worthy to hold this job of "mom." I felt like I'd let him down because I lost my temper.

I know I'm only human, and I know my children know how much I love them. I've never claimed to be perfect, and certainly as a mother, I know I still have so much to learn. There are some moments when everything is roses. And then there are other times that are less-than-perfect, messy, tear-filled and super complicated. And that switch can happen in the matter of minutes.

So what do you do when you feel one of your children pushing your buttons past the point of no return? How do you calm yourself down without losing your cool or going over the edge? I'd love to learn from some other moms out there. I feel like I need some parenting advice right now.

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Tags: kids, motherhood, parenting, tantrums

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Comment by Liza Jones on December 16, 2013 at 2:22pm

Janice - thank you for sharing! It's so nice to know I'm not the only one who's been there - even if it is a really low place to visit. I'm happy to report we all slept well last night and have had a better day today. I'm glad we're all in this together.

Comment by Janice Perry on December 16, 2013 at 2:15pm

We have all been in your shoes, or if you are like me in your slippers, at that moment of mom mental breakdown.  I try hard to keep from stooping to my five-year old's level, he is in the wrong BUT I am the one who will walk away feeling lower than low because I got in the arena with him.  I also go for the parent time out, I let Sonny Boy know I have had enough and need I a break (not that it's much of a break when I can hear him still going at it in his room), and I escape the charged environment before I give myself a reason to indulge in self loathing.

-Janice

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