Why are bad moods contagious?
Why can an active (read: monkey) five year old boy make me crazy and ready to throw out my “non-spanking” beliefs for just one good, hard swat across his behind?
Why is it almost impossible to stop a bad day from continuing to disintegrate?
And really – WHY do I take my son shopping?
Yes – so went my afternoon.
I suppose it really comes down to that last question. Have I not learned my lesson? My son is a wild animal and needs to be free to thrash around in a field. Stand quietly next to me in the store while I try clothes on Julia? Hold my hand in a parking lot? Apparently that is asking too much! (This is sarcasm – please understand that I obviously know that my son is fully capable of behaving appropriately in a store. He just doesn’t always choose to and on days like this – I don’t choose to react correctly.)
So while my son bounced around the store, annoying the grumpy sales lady, I started to lose my temper. Soon it was officially gone, and I was raising my voice as I sat him down on yet another time out, while “watching” myself come undone.
The worst part was – that I knew it! I knew that I was losing my temper. I knew that my son was pushing my buttons. I knew that I should stay calm. I knew that I shouldn’t raise my voice. But today I did it anyway. Today I failed. I was a parenting failure and I knew it!
Then we got back in the car and headed to the second store. (A wiser mom would have aborted the mission and gone home – but my week is packed and I really wanted to get those errands done.) My son was still bouncing! Thank goodness he was strapped in. But as his silliness and naughtiness continued, I continued to get grumpier and grumpier. As I drove, all I could think about was Angelina Jolie and her children shopping hand in hand, the store ladies reporting to the papers that the children were perfectly behaved in the store. (Thank the Lord I am not famous and no one is taking notes on our shopping trips!)
Susan read this fabulous parenting book called, Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood: Practical Parenting from Birth to Six Years. She began implementing the techniques with Jackson and it worked wonders. I started reading it too and it is awesome! Absolutely brilliant.
But today, I ignored everything I learned. Today I reacted. Today I failed. By the time we got in the house tonight, I had raised my voice numerous times – yes I had actually yelled at my son – and had completely disappointed myself.
At one point when we were driving home from the store (it was about a twenty minute drive) Jackson was entertaining Julia by making very loud screeching noises (she does her little toddler squeal and he reciprocates!) I lost it. (I had already asked him twice to stop screeching.) I yelled, “Jackson – no more. I want you to be quiet. No talking – nothing! Mommy is angry and she needs a time out. I want you to sit still and be quiet.” In the rear view mirror, I saw his shocked face. I suppose this time he was temporarily stunned into submission. At one point I heard a little whimper, “I want to talk.” I replied, “No – Mommy does not want to talk right now. Mommy needs some quiet time.”
After sending him directly to his room for a time out when we got home, I was able to get my temper back under control. We actually had a decent evening even as I scrambled to make dinner and feed him and Julia. But the whole time I had this heavy, aching heart. I hate it when I am a bad mom. I hate it when I lose it and raise my voice.
So tonight, when I finally get to curl up in bed, I think I will bring that book with me and try to “refresh” my memory of how I should have reacted to a boisterous five year old boy who knows how to push his mom’s buttons.
Have you had those days too? Please tell me I am not the only parenting failure out here.
What do you do when your day and your temper are unraveling? How do you reclaim your calm?