As I sprayed the mirror with Windex, I couldn’t make eye contact, but as I wiped the mirror clean, I couldn’t help but look myself in the eye. There I was. I’m normally a pretty confident person. While I’d like to consider myself a curvy girl, I’m happy with who I am and the choices I’ve made along the way. I am usually steadfast in decision making, unafraid to voice my opinion and content with my life. The reason I feel like I can’t look myself in the mirror, is I’m afraid to admit that I’m not a good mother.
I’m disappointed in myself for not doing more with my kids, not having enough patience, not being calm enough. I yell too much and can’t find a way to make myself stop the noise. It is impacting on my eldest. I can see it in her behavior and her words. And I hate that I can’t figure out a way to stop it.
Growing up, my mom was the yeller. And it was just noise, really. However we knew she meant business, and I knew there was a line that I shouldn’t cross. There was some fear there, which I think is healthy. I knew when to push it and when not to. But now I’ve become a yeller too, or maybe I’ve always been and it’s just more apparent now that I have kids. However, I don’t like it. And neither do my kids.
I have always fought for what I have; I struggled for the grades on my report cards, worked for the money to buy the things I want; figured out a way to balance my life to have it all. But I can’t solve this one. I try to remain calm when she starts acting up, I give her warnings, I leave the room, but eventually I yell.
And I instantly regret it.
She starts yelling and it becomes a spiral that doesn’t stop spinning. My husband is much calmer than I am. And he can usually diffuse the situation better than I can. Most of the time I’m trying to stop some form of behavior; yelling herself, or fighting over a toy with her little sister, or throwing toys around. I have pointed out that warnings are my way of telling her that if she continues to do something, she’s going to get into trouble, which doesn’t work. I’ve figured out her currency and that’s taking her favourite toy away, so we do and things just get worse.
I’m just not as good at this mothering thing like I’d hoped. And it makes me so sad. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think I would be Marion Cunningham (Happy Days), Caroline Ingalls (Little House on the Prairie) or Clair Huxtable (The Cosby Show). I was probably hoping for something more along the lines of Sophia Petrillo (Golden Girls) mixed with a cross of Rosanne Conner (Rosanne), both of which are a little sassy and outspoken – like me, but both of which have a fierce devotion to their kids.
And I have that devotion, no question about that. I love them more than anything. I just think I need to be a better mom. They both deserve that.
So every morning, I wake up with a promise to myself in the mirror that I’m going to be more patient. That I’m going to be calm. That I’m not going to raise my voice. And every afternoon, on my way home from work, I say the same thing to myself.
Sometimes it works, but more often I fall back into that habit and find myself yelling.
Can I fix myself? Will I break her?
I am trying to look myself in the eye more often. Ground myself in the moment. Count to ten. Otherwise I’m going to cry.