Stupid, bad, idiot Mama


This morning I woke early, before the baby and my alarm.  I had a few moments to put on coffee, brush my teeth, and use my netti pot.  Then I climbed back into bed, lulled by the sound of our cat purring in between my husband and me, and the baby’s soft snoring.

It was actually kind of blissful, although the clock was still ticking.  Even ten minutes in the morning can seem like an eternity, and I run a pretty tight ship around here.

Looking at the clock, realizing it was almost 7:00, I made a conscious choice to relax and not stress if I am a little late for work.  Being with my family on this peaceful morning was well worth it, right?

Eventually, Emily woke, nursed, cuddled, and I got up to get in the shower.  The kids ate and dressed.  I put on make up, dried my hair and went out to make lunches.  Everything was going so well (!) until Jack came out of his room sans socks.  I told him if he put on socks and shoes, he would have time to watch a show before catching the school bus, but he was going to have to show a little hustle because we were all running a little late this morning.

“Oh!  Why do I have to get my own socks?” he whined.

“Because it is your responsibility,” I replied, stuffing a banana in Emily’s ladybug lunchbox.

“But I was just in there, and you didn’t tell me I needed socks!” he shouted.  Like he isn’t told he needs frigging socks every frigging morning?  He eventually did turn around to get the socks, but tripped over the baby gate.  He was totally unscathed, however not all actors are in Hollywood, my friend.  He took this moment to make his Oscar bid, wailing and flailing to beat the band.

My head whirrled.  Do I ignore him?  Offer him an ice pack?  Go get the damn socks for him?  

Ultimately, I kept doing what I was doing, packing the lunches.  I took a moment to fill Jack’s water bottle and heard my husband come out of the bathroom to help Jack.  Whew.  I sighed.  Crisis averted.  It was being handled by my sergeant at arms.  I came around the corner to see my husband, still disheveled in his pajamas.  Five minutes before go time.

“You haven’t showered yet?” I quipped.

“No, I haven’t showered yet.” he nipped.  I heaved a huge, heavy breath and placid morning turned to prickly morning.  I looked at Jack bawling on the floor, still tantruming over his stupid socks.  Empathy paled as I embarked on my own Oscar bid.  The following words came out of my mouth:

“Great!  Now I’m going to be late for work.  Thanks guys.  I’ll probably be fired and we will have to live in a box on the street!”

As soon as the words were out, I felt awful, reactive, and narcissistic.  And as soon as the words were out, they dialed up the intensity on Jack’s meltdown.

“Mama you are stupid!  You are the worst, stupid, idiot Mama in the world!  I hate you!”  he screamed at me.  I tried to redirect him by reminding him he is working on earning a yellow stripe in karate for being responsible and calm, and he screeched, “SHUT UP!” at me.  Then he kicked me.

In retrospect, I see his point.  It was kind of hypocritical of me trying to bribe him to get control of himself when I was not modeling very proper self control of myself.

Some mornings it is really hard to find the joy when we are all bustling to get to places to which none of us really want to go.  Sometimes I say and do really stupid shit.  Sometimes I feel like Jack was put here on earth to call me on some of that shit, but man, I really would like to catch a break here and there.

I drove to work feeling guilty, ashamed, and angry I had been robbed of my peaceful morning.  Correction:  that I had robbed myself of my peaceful morning.  I totally made things worse by losing my own composure, by stressing over time.  In the end, I wasn’t even late for work, so it was all for naught.

I also felt pretty crappy because Jack has been doing so much better lately with his behavior.  Karate seems to be helping him with his self control.  His break through anger is much more infrequent and usually shorter lived.  So, exacerbating his distress this morning really did make me feel like a stupid, bad, idiot  mama.

At the end of the day, I entered the house saying silent little prayers that everything was going okay and there wouldn’t be any tantrums.  My husband kissed me at the door when I cam in.  Jack and Emily were already in their pajamas.  They were both thrilled to see me and wanted lots of cuddles.  We had all moved on, and the day ended peacefully.  The way it had started.

Do other parents have these vain and crazy moments where they say and do things that are senseless and regrettable?  I’ve heard tell of it.  But I feel like everyone presents such a pretty picture and would never do or say the crap that I do.  Especially because of my job, I think I should hold myself to a higher standard.

But I guess I’m human, so by design I screw stuff up.

Alright.  Time to get back on the horse and do better next time.

Thanks for listening.  Momaste.


19 responses »

  1. Thanks so much for your honesty. I too am a mother and therapist, and so often feel doubly guilty when I fall short in my parenting.

  2. Uh, yes. My public family looks like we have our stuff together, and I suppose in the big areas, we do. However, we have moments like you described way more frequently than I want to even admit to myself. I have two sons — ages six and five, and neither are particularly easy temperament-wise. Last week was especially rough with the five-year-old — tantrum city. One night after a VERY trying day, I was snuggling with him before he fell asleep. It was peaceful and happy and I was doing my best to soak up the moment when he said, “Mommy, I love you so much. I won’t ever kick you in the shins and tell you how much I hate you EVER again.” Yeah…that. It’s not just you.

    • Unless you actually HAVE a kid with a ‘non-easy’ temperament, I don’t think you can really understand how exhausting and defeating it can feel. My son is six and the tantrums are definitely getting less frequent, but they trigger me so hard and make me feel like a failure. I have to work really hard on keeping my cool and not taking his behavior personally. And, girl, I too have been kicked in the shins many, many times! Thank you so much for leaving such a supportive and validating comment. It is infinitely supportive for me to hear from other moms who can relate. xo!

  3. Thank you for writing this! I want so badly to be that perfect patient mom and to practice the non-aggression principle but on more occasions than I care to admit I am a stupid, bad, idiot, mama too! I offer you virtual hugs and compassion, don’t forget to be kind to yourself!

  4. Isn’t there some homeostasis theory about trying to make change…and how things and relationships constantly try to pull or push back to keep us in those cycles? I say focus on the bliss you had, and then see how the shit that followed wants you to negate the bliss and stay in a cycle or thought pattern that you had actually broken for a moment this morning!!! Hugs, it is so hard.

    And I wonder if a picture checklist of clothing items he needs every day would help him as a reminder?

    • We have tried just about everything in the world with this guy. . . I think maybe a checklist would be fun for him, and I’ve been looking for one on the internet, but then it gets exhausting to run my house like I am at work, you know? Anyhoo, thanks for your reminder to stay in the bliss. I’ve been reading Pema Chodron’s chapter on Joy in one of her books, and it is really speaking to me. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!! xoxo.

  5. Same here! Especially those days when crazy deadlines seem to replicate themselves all over my desk! If you were perfect it would be hard on your children too, they would never feel allowed to fail (well it is a little self justification but I think it is true in a way too!)

      • Not so much…. Working part time and at home is the best way to be exploited by the employer who ask you to be always available and by the family, because since you’re at home you can do the housework… it is more relaxing in a way when I go to my office! This week-end is going to be very stressful, with the packing and preparations to go back there…

  6. Hats off to you for being honest! This parenting business is so challenging, and I love to read other moms sharing the struggles with each other. I did not stop by to promote my blog–I enjoyed reading yours! I actually blogged about sharing the hard stuff with other moms a few weeks ago. I think so many people only share the warm fuzzies, and it makes us all feel crummy about ourselves. I’ll post the link in case you’re interested. Thanks for a great post!

  7. What is it with socks? Many a morning chez nous has gone swimmingly until its time for my 4-yr-old to get her socks on – then if we aren’t hyper on top of it things go downhill pretty quick – having to wear them at all; having to put them on herself; having me put them on crooked – getting through it and getting to the bus on time without completely losing my sh@t is like some sort of preschool parent daily test. So I HEAR you!

  8. I remember driving my girls to a therapy appointment for my older girl, and on the way I lost my cool and yelled at them. On the way to a therapy appointment….because my girls were struggling with stuff. Oy!

    So when I spoke privately with the therapist before my daughter had her time, I lamented to the therapist about how awful I was, and she asked, “Did your yelling stop their negative behavior?” “Yes, but…” I replied. “Well,” said the therapist, “You’re right that you shouldn’t be yelling all the time, but sometimes you just do because you’re human, and it’s ok. Sometimes it’s even good for your kids – that they see that side of you – and it does get them to switch gears.”

    I appreciated her grace when it’s so easy to beat ourselves up. I hope you’re feel grace toward yourself today.

    • Thank you so much Kelly, for sharing that story with me. It means so much to hear such words of grace and compassion that are also rational and have a positive perspective! Thanks.

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