What I Realized After I Lost My Cool With My Kids

by Kristin Allaben
Originally Published: 

I admit it. I was grumpy. I was hot, tired and hungry. And you were, too. It was approaching 95 degrees that day with what I swear was 100% humidity and we were stuck inside with no AC because our yard has no shade. The fans weren’t doing anything to help us stay cool. Even a ride in the car barely calmed you down.

All day, you were hyper and fresh, two things that normally aren’t words I use to describe you. But I really couldn’t blame you. Your brother was up in your face. The dog wouldn’t stop barking at anything that dared to go by the house. I kept saying “no.” I needed to sit for a bit. The sun was too hot for you to be outside and you didn’t understand why. No movie or TV show was the right one. You wanted to play baseball and you were furious you couldn’t do it in the house. You refused to eat. You refused to sit still. You refused to do any of the activities that normally entertain you.

Your brother followed suit.

And I was quick to temper. Just like you.

It was a long day. Bedtime should have been the chance for us to reset. To read together, to sing together, to snuggle for a bit. But it wasn’t. Tubby time, which is normally so much fun, was a disaster. You kept taking bath toys from your brother. You encouraged him to try to climb out and laughed maniacally when he got in trouble. You wouldn’t settle down. 7:30 p.m. came and went and you were still full of an untamed energy, a tired energy that often results in unnecessary injuries because you’re just not paying attention. I yelled. You yelled. Your brother decided to get in on the fun.

We approached 9:30 p.m. and you and your brother were still going strong. I yelled again. Your father yelled. More yelling in a household that normally never yells.

I went to bed upset and confused about your beastly behavior throughout the day, unsure what I could do to make things better for tomorrow. And then I realized that I was just as bad. I got upset and frustrated with myself.

And that’s when it hit me: you’re human, too.

I forget that you’re not my little baby anymore. You don’t need me to make your day a good one. You don’t rely on me in the same way. You and your brother are little boys now. You like to challenge me and test your limits. You like to have fun and run and play. You want to explore. You ask questions all day because you want to learn and understand what’s going on around you. And when it’s a hot, humid day, you get feisty and irritable, just like your mom.

I’m realizing you’re growing up and you’re human, too. So forgive your human Mama for forgetting that and slipping into angry mom voice occasionally. Truth is, I’m just as hot, tired and hungry as you are. And sometimes, I’m just scared. Scared I won’t be able to catch you when you fall. Scared I won’t be able to stop you before you get really hurt. Scared you’re going to make the big, life-lesson mistake before you’re ready to fully grasp what it means and, therefore, really learn from it. I’m scared I’ll let you down. And sometimes, yelling is my last resort to try to get you to pay attention to what I’m saying.

I’m slowly coming to terms with the idea that this is not the only time this will happen. We’re two unique humans living under the same roof and, for at least the next 15 years, you’re under my rules. And that’s going to mean we will clash heads, especially because the little person you’re growing into is strikingly like me. And people with similar personalities often clash when they’re in a space too small to contain it all.

I mean, I know that you’re going to grow up and be your own person. That’s my job, after all – to raise you to be a kind, respectful, fun, courageous and independent man. But right now, when you still call for me and reach for me and say things like, “I just need you for a second, Mommy,” I forget that the little boy I’m raising will be a man. I forget you have your own personality, preferences and opinions. I let myself slip into how things used to be and, for that split second, allow myself to bask in the memory of when you really did need me for everything.

I’ll get there, I promise. But right now, know I’m a work in progress, just like you. I’m learning to navigate living with small humans who think they can do it all on their own without fully comprehending that the rules and guidance I provide is to keep you safe and attempt to keep you out of harm’s way. It’s pretty different from what life looked like before you were around, so I’m still figuring it all out. And you, my first born, are paving the way, which means it’s a little harder on both of us.

And add to that your own challenges. You’re learning who you are – what you love, what you hate, your boundaries – and how all of that works for you in this wild world we live in.

I know there will be more arguments. I know there will be some more yelling. I know it’s always going to make me upset. But I’ll get over it. And you will, too, because at the end of the day, we’re just human. And I will always be there to guide you, support you and love you to be sure you grow up to be that courageous, kind, fun, independent man I’ve been tasked to raise.

I just might need to raise my voice a bit to be sure I’m heard.

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