Sometimes, Motherhood Ain’t Pretty

Image by Martin Cathrae via Flickr

I had intended to piggyback on my Tuesday post, and wax sentimental about the reaction of my children when I walked in the house after a two-day absence. But my final parenting moment last night involved Nicholas screaming…yes, screaming…in my face for ten minutes straight because he dropped a squishy pool ball on his way up the stairs, and I told him he could have it back in the morning.

Maybe I should’ve given it to him. But it was choir night. Bedtime was long gone before we ever left church.

The tantrums have been less severe lately (knock on wood), because I’ve been trying to set him up for success. Being hungry and/or tired sets him off, so I’m more cognizant of snacks. We’ve rearranged the carpool so he gets a full nap at least two days a week every week, and especially on Wednesday—choir day—I try to make sure he gets a very long one. And it seems to be working. He’s eating vegetables now without having to be bribed every other bite, at least.

The difference is in me, too. I know Nicholas hates being yelled at; scolding of any kind pretty much turns him into a sullen, uncooperative lump who hollers so loudly that he actually can’t hear the meaning of anything I say. So I’ve been trying to cool my temper, which—let’s face it—runs on a much shorter fuse than it did when I was a parent of one.

But man, I was tired last night. Unreasonably tired. And I lost my cool.

Before very long, Nicholas had forgotten what he was screaming about; he knew only that he must keep screaming or life as he knew it would pass away. Screaming through the toileting routine. Screaming while having his teeth brushed. Screaming while being diapered. Screaming while having his jammies put on.

I don’t deal well with screaming. It flays my nerves. I can’t breathe properly; I can barely think. Usually I remove the offender: put him in his room and go downstairs, where the noise is only an irritant and not a scouring pad on my soul. I come back in five minutes and offer him a snuggle. But that technique, although usually successful, involves multiple repetitions over twenty to thirty minutes. And last night, I knew it was tiredness. He needed sleep—and so did his roommate, who has school today.

Finally I yelled downstairs to Christian, who was making his lunch: “I’m past my limit! I need you up here NOW!”

Christian came upstairs and walked to the crib, where Nicholas lay on his tummy, still screaming. “STOP IT. RIGHT NOW.”

And you know what? That stinker stopped crying. Just like that.

Insides quivering, I left the room and went to say goodnight to Alex and get myself ready for bed.

These are the motherhood moments that I agonize over sharing. I should couch them in humorous terms, like my friend Abby. I should draw a spiritual lesson out of them, like my friend Sarah. At least ten times during the writing of this post, I questioned my judgment in sharing it at all. If I confess to losing my cool, will I not bring DFS swooping down on me?

But this is real. The beautiful moments? The ones that transcend ordinary life, elevating it to something not much short of Heaven? Those are real. But so is this. It’s part of the growing that I know now will continue until the day I die. And as I put myself out here as a…persona? an expert? or, just as an mirror for everyone else’s experiences…I think it’s important to acknowledge the ugly moments along with the transcendent ones.

Show me some love here, moms. ’Cuz I’m needing it today.