Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Vitriolic Threat Spewing Mad Mom Machine - A Confession About Why I'm Not Cutting It Anymore

*Updated at approx. 11:45 p.m., as promised.

I beyond the pale lost my cool on three-year-old my middle child Moody Cheeks McGee today. If I were a child care worker, I'd be fired right now. No one should ever talk to a child like that. No one. My rage scared me, so I can't imagine what it did to him. I plan a full, hopefully cathartic confession late night or by morning.

I promise I'll bare some in-the-heat-of-the-moment-of-fury confessional style meat within the body of this post after I return from fermenting my conflicted, remorseful thoughts during my evening run. I hope that I am brave enough to confess completely uncensored and at the risk of being forever dubbed a "bad mom," possibly the worst moninker a mother could ever have the shame of wearing.

Said raging, pissed off body post "meat" will be directly derived from a hot-headed journal entry that I furiously scribbled today at every city stop light between my youngest son's preschool and my oldest son's kindergarten. Every word scratched down in my lifeline journal linked me closer to survival.

It's amazing how much I can vent on paper between pressing on the gas pedal and cantankerously (and regrettably now that I'm no longer seeing red) verbally lambasting Moody Cheeks McGee for smashing a high sentimental valued piece of pottery during a temper tantrum and purposely spitting in my face and on my car. I wish I could capture the verbal daggers that exploded this morning from my sharp-edged tongue on paper forever, instead of hurling them in the direction of my sweet little kid (who was just being a kid having a fit).

After posting tonight I must clean white-glove test caliber for sleep-over Thanksgiving guests, launder enough towels and linens for them and last-minute grocery shop for our 15-plus person turkey feast. Thank Goddess for hyper helpful husbands (who is now watching our three football chasing kids as I type, and when I should be running).

Until the wee hours, that is, IF I topple my towering chore list ...

Seeing the signs that I might perhaps be burned out on staying home is one of the hardest views I've had to take in. Even if I prefer to be blind right now, I have to take a hard look at possibly getting a "real" job outside the home . Maybe it would be better for us all, but most especially the kids.

"If a small thing has the power to make you angry, does that not indicate something about your size?" ~Sydney J. Harris

"Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret." ~Ambrose Bierce

A couple of sluggish, nonproductive hours later ... Chore completion zero! Kids sleeping like babies: three. (Similar to when I hustled leads and wrestled synonyms in newsrooms, I thrive on the challenge of a nervewrackingly tight deadline. We'll see how well I cope tomorrow, the day my guests whisk into town at who knows what time. Maybe I'll leave the place in squalor. If they love me, they won't care, right? My sister-in-law suggested I deep clean only the bathrooms and kitchen. Sounds good to procrastinating 'ole domestic slackstress me. Hey, c'mon. I've just had five kids through the weekend. Whaddya' expect?)

Now, as promised, I sheepishly give you the enraged contents of my venting-heavy journal entry on my son Cheeks' fit of rage today ... which was immediately followed (and further fueled) by my own.

But first a disclaimer/explanation of sorts:

Why you might ask would I want to reveal such intense emotions, ones that perhaps will cast a negative light on me as a woman and, most importantly, as a mother? Why would I want to expose the ambiguous, sometimes seedy, difficult to hear about underbelly of stay-at-home by choice motherhood, an institution society at large seems to view as sanctimonious, hallowed and all homemade gingersnap cookies and butterfly kisses?

My answers are not clean-cut and crystal clear. To tell you the truth, I'm not completely sure why I'm motivated to bear all, possibly more than I should, day after day on this blog. It just feels right and I go forth every day here on instinct.

So far, even if people might think I'm a weirdo freak mama to divulge so much, I think it is important to share the highs of stay-home motherdom, but equally as crucial to expose the lows, which can dive down dark and deep at times for so many of us.

Why should we always have to grit our hopefully brushed mama teeth and smile, even when we're on the verge of tears? So, in an effort to encourage fellow overwhelmed by wee little clone humans of their own making to come clean of the mother-guilt that is such an intrinsic part of raising children in these modern times, in encouraging them to open up to other mothers so we know that we are not alone in our struggles, and even failures, and maybe we aren't really that bad after all, here goes. (Run-on sentence, alert!) This is going to be painful for me, even embarrassing. But I feel there is worth in sharing this, even if I don't yet fully understand what that worth is. Does that make sense?

Begin journal entry written in the red hot heat of anger:

(Please keep in mind that I did not say these all of these things, only the terrible, terrible parts about quitting the SAHM gig and sending Cheeks to more preschool. I know ... I was quite bad. Aside from needing to vent pronto, I jotted down many of the rageful comments I was tempted to say but thankfully did not in order to spare my son. It's a good thing I always have a venting journal and trusty fast-gliding pen handy. You never know when Cheeks might flare up, or me for that matter.)

How would you feel if you were only three years old and your mom told you she quits? That's right. She's just about ready to quit staying home taking care of YOU! That's it! She's going to get a "real" job. Now! Somewhere, anywhere, far, far away from playrooms and play things! Far away from anything shellacked in spit.

What if you were only three and I, your mother, told you that it's "gross" and "disgusting" when you hawk loogeys in an angry fit of kid rage at my already filthy minivan, as if your saliva could make it dirtier? What would you think? Would you think you were indeed "gross" and "disgusting"? Would these horrible words/names make you feel shame? Unloved? Too dirty to be loved? Would you think that I, your mommy, don't love you? That you wish you could run away? Run away into the arms of a non-evil enraged, I've-had-it-up-to-here mom who wouldn't verbally lash out at you the entire drive to the school you never even want to go to?

Yes, preschool. The place you say no one plays with you at. The place that I just said I might send you all week (instead of only four hours twice a week) when I quit, quit, quit and get a real job like daddy.

Would you cover your soft little ears and whimper "I don't like you, mommy," and "I can't hear you, mommy"? If the sight of this doesn't stop a fire-spewing mother in her tracks I don't know what will.

I wish I could duct tape my mouth shut in damaging moments of fury like these. They must have glue at preschool. Maybe they have a magic potion too so I can take back all the hurtful words that I have just irresponsibly spoken to someone I made, someone I love.

How did I turn into such a bad mother today? How could a few jagged, chipped sections of thrown against the wall and smashed to bits pottery turn me into an enraged mom-strocity? How could a gazillion sets of kid sized sneakers, flip flops and poofy slippers chucked against a closed for time-out door set me off so harshly? How could I let myself take the fitful actions of an attention-starved middle child three-year-old personally?

In all my vim and vigor, in all my instant regret at having launched a verbal assault aimed at a bullseye Moody Cheeks McGee, I have just now realized that he grapples with same explosive anger and impatience that I suffer from. That's it. We are the same. Maybe that's why we drive each other mad without even meaning to. Maybe that's the place we can start healing from.

Except that Cheeks is not the same as me. He hasn't lived all that I have lived. Seen what I have seen. For starters he's a kid. Twenty-eight years younger than me, to be precise. He's also much, much louder than me when his rage takes hold.

Except that I don't break things when I'm mad, unlike Cheeks earlier today. I only break children's self-esteem.

Except that I'm an adult and I should know better.

What difference does all this make? I can never take my words back. All I can do is move on and try for a better tomorrow.

In true slackstress style, I'll close now by asking YOU a question: If you are feeling brave enough to come clean, what's the worst you've said to your child in anger? How old was your child at the time and what set you off? C'mon. We'll all feel better knowing we're not the only ones who lose our cool sometimes. Sometimes too much.

If you are not a parent and happen to be reading this, go out and procreate already! Join the insane ranks of us breeders, especially after reading such an uninspiring horrible parenting confessional post. Just playing.

Anyway, if you happen to have kids or not, do you remember a time or two when your mom lost her cool? If so, do you feel in doing so she damaged your self-esteem, self-concept, etc.? What would you tell your mother about inappropriately venting her anger on you as a child if you could?


At 7:47 PM, Blogger Little Miss said...

You know what? I'm glad you posted this. I don't think I could ever own up to it publicly, hell, I can't even own up to it to my husband.

A few days ago, my youngest destroyed a picture of my grandma and grandpa holding both my girls just a few months before they passed away. The owner of that pic is no longer part of this family (LONG story there), but calling her to get another copy is OUT of the question. Needless to say, I unleashed a mountain of fury at my two year old, even had the other two on the brink of tears.

about an hour later, extreme guilt took over, I got all three of my munchkins out of bed, read them stories, apologized, sang silly songs, and tried to convince them that it was just a stupid picture.

However, my baby still brings it up saying, "i make you happy, mama? i get a new pitcher for you of gamma gampa?"


maybe you should see if there are TWO jobs available outside the home...

****i don't think I should even post this, but you took a risk, so now i'm going to.... must.hit.publish.now. grrr

At 8:12 PM, Blogger Mad Hatter said...

We all go to that place. It is not a good place but we all go there. Bubandpie wrote about it last month and the response to her post was overwhelming.

You know, though, our kids survive it and in part it reaffirms for them the depths of our passions.

At 10:02 PM, Blogger Crunchy Carpets said...

I was talking about this with my son last night.

I will sadly admit my temper sucks and I have said really horrid things to him in my frustration.

And yelled waaay too much.

He was going on about how I was the greatest mom and how he loved to be with me and on and on.....and I asked him how I could be so great if I was always losing my temper and being so cranky?

He was like 'whatever' you give great cuddles.

And I know you love me.

Today at dinner he said to me in front of his dad and sister...that if it was just him and me....it would be perfect!

So...the lesson...yes losing our tempers at small humans is bad and sucks and we should not do it and is usually a symptom of ________fill in the blanks....need a break, need a hobby, need work..who knows.

Beat yourself up and resolve to do better and carry on.

Our kids will survive.

My mom said she yelled at me a lot.
I have no recollection of this.

At 3:24 AM, Blogger My Marrakech said...

Dear Mad Mom Machine-
Yep, we all been there, baby. But the good news is that we are horrified by the behavior, strive to do better, and we do most of the time.

I am sending you a Moroccan martini via cyberspace.

At 6:48 AM, Anonymous chris said...

been there, done that, more times than i care to think about. i have screamed things at my sons that i wouldn't yell at another driver who cut me off on the road. it's like i can use the 'soft answer that turns away wrath' 49 times of 50; but then i think 'why should I have to swallow this shit time after time after time?!?' ooh, that's right- i'm supposed to be the grown-up.

At 6:59 AM, Blogger jen said...

ah, sister...what brilliant honesty. i yelled once at M for knocking something over, yelled loud and harshly. she crumpled on the spot. seemed to forget it 5 minutes later.

you know, i truly think it's the sum of our parts rather than a single moment that defines us.

At 9:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can do you one better. Sure I've yelled. But last night, Brute Force was just pushing every button possible to push, and I told him he was driving me crazy, and then sat down and cried from frustration. He was like "oh no, mama, don't cry!" So instead of denigration, I'm using emotional blackmail to deal with my son. Nice.

Honestly, I think we all do the best we can given the tools we have, which are none. Seriously, the way I was raised, it was get frustrated and pissed off, vent your rage on the nearest person, and then once you've cooled down, feel guilty and apologize. My father firmly believes this is what family does to each other-this is how family works. So suffice to say I've got a steep learning curve in the patience department.

At 10:06 AM, Blogger Steven Novak said...

Do I remember a time in which my mom lost her cool?

You are assuming that she ever had some cool to begin with. ;)


At 11:41 AM, Blogger Crunchy Carpets said...

Geezus...I think I have yelled 'I quit' at least once a month and gone sulked in my bed.

And being that my kids are both strong willed with big tempers...most of my rages seem to roll over them with no affect.(maybe a yawn and a 'so anyway')

I think the worst I have done is not said 'I love you too' and just grunted when told 'I love you mommy.'

My biggest is to stop the swearing and focus the rant on what is happening at the time and try to see how trivial this all is.

At 1:41 PM, Blogger one love said...

My reply to this was pretty long so if anybody is interested in reading a different point of view- you can read my post for today!

visit with an open mind :)

At 1:55 PM, Blogger Sara said...

My mother went straight for the nasty names and swear words when she was angry, but way worse than that was when she just threw up her hands and said, "I'm done. It's over," and then she turned away. I don't do much swearing, but I do withdraw. I can just imagine my little girl thinking, She doesn't care, or It's not fair, just like I did.

At 1:57 PM, Anonymous karrie said...

This might be scattered as my son woke up as soon as I opened the comment screen.

First, I have apologized to my mother for being such a wild little kid. She laughed, and let's just say that watching me with a spirited (truly) little one of my own is payback enough for her.

Second, I have yelled at my son on several occasions. I'm not proud of the fact that I yelled GOD DAMNIT! at him this afternoon when he grabbed my last container of yogurt from the fridge and spontaneously flung it against the wall. I'm not proud that a few nights ago I said something similar about "quitting", followed by "Listen to me, because I MEAN BUSINESS!!" (Which only made my son burst out laughing, and left me feeling absurd and guilty.)

I also blogged about this when I shared a blog with my husband:


in short--one handed now, lol--i think everyone loses it. everyone. even dr. sears and his wife. lol

this is a tough gig and the pressure to be perfect is enormous.

take care

At 2:50 PM, Blogger ewe are here said...

Being a stay at home mom can be really really hard at times. At the end of a long day, well, I've found myself yelling at my whiny, screechy, uncooperative boy. But he's 18 months old and that's what they do when they're tired and hungry and frustrated; I'm his mommy and should know better. Do know better. But there I am, yelling at him anyways. Making it worse.


It happens. And I do apologize to my boy when it does.

At 4:17 PM, Blogger Rae said...

The worst thing I ever said to my kid was when I told him he was going to go to hell. Top that.

I'm not even religious either.

At 5:36 PM, Anonymous Momish said...

I've done it, and most likely will do it again because I am human. You are human. I agree with Jen, it is the sum and not the parts. Your children will learn that you are not perfect, but you own up to your actions and mend anything you have broken. That is a much more important lesson than trying to live up to a fantasy or ideal which no one ever could. You noticed it, corrected it and owned up to it, even here.
Very courageous and very real!

At 7:55 PM, Blogger LadySeduction said...

I just told my 17 yr old dd to get out and deal with her shit. I am not proud of this, she totally pushed my buttons that she KNOWs how to push and you would think that by now after all this time and energy and education and practice that I would no longer lose my cool. And yet it continues to happen. I will apologize to her later and she will apologize to me. That doesn't make it acceptable in my eyes, but it will have to do b/c I can't take it back and there is only so much energy in the Universe for me to draw from in moments of stress. I think about the old adage of picking your battles...I think about picking which issues I will pay for therapy over......
I am here from a comment you left on Maiden's blog re: Sage Woman magazine.....I used to live in Chico CA and hung out at the coast ALOT and used to read it alllllll the time! We have MUCHO in common, glad to find your blog, excellent writing and kindred activist spirits.

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