On The Days You Lose It, Remember That You're Still A Good Parent
Sometimes, we lose our shit. That is a universal truth of parenting.
You “losing your shit” likely looks different from when I lose mine. We all have our individualized, prepackaged versions of what it looks like to lose it, but it’s there for all of us.
The ability to reach our breaking point. To be pushed over the edge. To have had enough.
It’s inevitably, and unfortunately, impacted by external factors as well. Things like financial stress, marital strife, and work issues. Things that are not the fault of, or created by, our children, but impact our patience, and our ability to empathize and bring forth our most loving, gentle selves.
Today, was my day.
I lost my shit. Nobody slept last night, and everyone woke up cranky. The baby threw his breakfast on the floor, the dog had an accident, the toddler spilled milk everywhere, the kitten went missing, and my oldest pulled every article of clothing from her drawers and then declared them all “too crappy” to wear.
And then finally everyone was dressed, and I couldn’t find my car keys, and while I was looking for them…
The boys went outside in the muddy sandbox and were covered from head to toe right after I had dressed them, and right before we needed to haul ass out the door.
As I was changing them? Someone came to the door to spread the good news of Jesus, and my oldest opened the door, and let out the dogs.
While I was wrangling the dogs, and gently (but firmly) declining to further discuss religion, the naked baby came onto the porch and shook his bag of snacks all over and danced on top of them merrily.
With everyone back inside, I surveyed the damage and realized there was no way we were getting out of the house on time to even be fashionably late. Nobody was in the right spirit for being exposed to the general public, to put it mildly.
And then, my husband called to say that he thought our bank account had been compromised.
Also, my grandpa was in the hospital.
And then? I lost my shit. There was some yelling, some cursing, some tears, and some slammed doors. It wasn’t the finest display, to say the least. In my rage, I canceled the entire day.
And when the shit does hit the fan, and we have yelled, or cussed, or slammed doors, or taken away privileges, or some combination of all of those things, we always feel the guilt. The cloak of motherhood. The guilt sometimes doesn’t set in right away, because frustration and anger and stress tend to linger, but the guilt always shows up.
We beat ourselves up. We shouldn’t have yelled. We shouldn’t have slammed the door. We know better. We think of their wide eyes, and their tears, and our heart breaks. We imagine them 20 years down the road, reliving that painful memory of their rage-induced parent, and we have to clench our fists and choke back our own tears because we still have to fix lunch. We only get to lose our shit in increments because we still have people depending on us, and we have to keep going.
And then, everyone refuses to nap. They fight that nap with kicking and screaming. And you really need them to take the nap, so that you can breathe and gather your sanity, and attempt to salvage the remainder of the day in some way.
But the nap ain’t happening. And you lose your shit again. And just like before, you feel horrible, awful, no good, very bad. You let the tears escape this time, just a few, that you swipe while you keep going. Because you have to order takeout, and run baths, and find clean pajamas.
Then the baths are done, and we read a story with them curled up in our lap, their head smelling like the signature scent of their favorite no-tears shampoo, and we can’t concentrate on the story we are robotically reading because we are so consumed with love for these amazing creatures we made, and we are so eager to start fresh tomorrow.
To have a do-over. To make it up to them. To bring them joy, and smiles, and laughter. To pray for patience, to push out the nagging thoughts about bills and budgets and other things that make us boil over with stress.
We vow to enjoy the people we love more than anything we ever thought possible. The same people who cause us to lose our shit because they are the only people capable of pushing all of our buttons at the same time, while also crying and not sleeping and throwing their food on the floor. (If my husband acted like that, I’d throw all his shit on the lawn.)
And we look them in their face, right in those big, round eyes, and we apologize. Because we are human, and we are not infallible, and at the end of the day, we are sorry that we hurt their feelings or made them sad or disappointed them.
We are sorry. Truly.
And then it is time to tell guilt to “fuck off’ because guilt isn’t going to rob us of a good night’s sleep because one bad day doesn’t make someone a bad person, or mother, or spouse, or employee. Everyone has a bad day. Even moms. Especially moms.
We are entitled to bad days, and it is important for our children to see us as humans. Humans who mess up, and have to apologize, and have to show weakness and vulnerability. We want our kids to see these things now, in the safety of their loving home, so that they know it is okay for them to mess up and own it and move forward too.
So, yes, we all lose our shit sometimes. We feel guilty about it. We have to own it, and that can be hard, especially when we are still pissed off. But that’s motherhood for you. You lose your shit, you get broken all the way down, and you get built back up by the promise of tomorrow. A new day, a fresh start, and the kids will be alright. You will be too.
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