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“Mommy, Are You Frustrated?”

I unclench my fists.

I’m both annoyed and hurt by her question. However, she’s learning the signs.

“Yes, sweetpea, mommy is very frustrated right now.” Sometimes I make the face, sometimes I take a deep breath. Worst is when I continue to yell then break down crying.

“You have to calm down, mama. Relax.”

Bless her. The very words I say as I coach her through feelings bigger than herself. How is she so calm right now? Wasn’t it her incessant whining while the baby cried that set me off this time? Wasn’t she an irrational bundle of emotions just a few moments ago?

But everyday is bad, but some weeks are worse than others. Those are the weeks I question and doubt myself. The times I’m convinced something is wrong with me.

What the hell IS wrong with me?

I love my children with all my heart but sometimes…. sometimes I can’t handle it. I struggle to be patient and calm. I react and it let my anger consume me.

We will have a string of good to great days and I think I’m making progress. Every day I vow to do better.

Yell less. Be a better role model.

Until my fuse is lit again. “STOP YELLING!” I yell at my daughter, ignoring the irony.

If I’m not yelling then I’m throwing something. There’s something about chucking things at the wall that releases a huge amount of tension. The big crack or thud makes it even better.

When I can’t hold it together I feel awful. I don’t always lose my composure. But the scratchy sore throat on nights I’m not sick really opened my eyes.

Things need to change and they need to change now.

With Mother’s Day tomorrow I almost feel guilty being celebrated. My kids love me despite my flaws. Yelling became my easy out to dealing with difficult behavior instead of parenting through it in a positive manner. I caved under the stress. I was fooled into thinking yelling was effective… all the time. It’s not.

I felt it was time to talk about this with you. Yes, we usually only show you our “highlight reel,” but I try not to hide the reality of the not-so-pretty. I want you to know you are not alone…and I want to know I’m not alone either.


Thursday 16th of May 2013

Oh dear you are not alone. I am a yeller too and sometimes can't contain my frustration. Having 2 boys under 5 is overwhelming I must say. But I really love them and I will keep trying to be better. Thank you for being so honest and share this. Not many moms have the same courage.


Wednesday 15th of May 2013

I am also guilty of yelling - and yet I try to get my son to use an inside voice all the time. I need to work on it, because it doesn't do anything but further upset him when my voice is raised.


Tuesday 14th of May 2013

i get like this. i'm worse with my teen since i was a single mom and we were more "partners" than mom & son as we are now. so i get used to being so blatantly honest with him. though he knows me really well and instead of pestering me anymore just comes and gives me a hug. i love him to death, but sometimes he does drive me crazy!


Tuesday 14th of May 2013

I'm jealous of moms that don't yell, but I really don't think they exist. Well, not without a nanny. :) I remember distinct times when I've yelled at my kids and it's just so sad. One time was when my kids were the ages of your kids and my oldest was sick and wouldn't stop whining and hadn't slept longer than 5 minutes at a time without whining in his sleep and waking me up. Horrible. But I apologized and we moved on and learned from it. :(


Tuesday 14th of May 2013


What an amazingly honest and vulnerable post.

To me, a complete outsider, your post reflects both a huge realization on your part and the desire that we all have to look away when a harsh light is suddenly shone on stuff we don't want to see. It's natural to recoil from something we're not proud to see in ourselves. And it takes a brave woman to see it in the first place. But it's the height of courage to not only look at it anyway but also then choose to "own it" publicly.

You just gave birth to your second child in December. You already have a toddler. Anyone who has had children can empathize with your desire to sometimes run away and hide - and anyone who tells you that they haven't ever lost their temper or yelled at their kids is, well, either self-delusional or has a completely different definition of "temper lost" or "yelling." Or they're just full of it and rewriting their own history.

It sounds like you don't want to feel the way you do (or more accurately, react the way you've noticed yourself reacting) anymore. The cool thing is, just by noticing, you're starting the process of change.

"Yeah," I can hear you saying, "I've 'noticed' before and I've vowed to change, and it hasn't happened, and now my daughter's noticing, and I'm a total failure and I might as well run away now."

But that's not true. Your feelings are your feelings, but you *can* change your reactions to frustration and overload. You *can* forgive yourself for not embodying your illusion of the perfect mother. Mothers aren't perfect. Nobody is. But mothers can be a huge influence on how we deal with ourselves and our perceived flaws. And it sounds like you're making progress. I noticed that you have "strings of good to great days." Well geez! Celebrate those!

Keep writing about your frustrations; if not always publicly, assiduously privately. At the end of the day, take 15 minutes to reflect on those times that you either "lost it" - or didn't - that day. Write what triggered you. Write out what it felt like. Pay attention to whether or not you were able to catch yourself enough to just *stop*. Stop yelling, stop talking, stop changing the diaper, stop giving reasons to yourself or your two year old for why you should or shouldn't be feeling stressed. Pay attention to what worked. Were you able to put the baby in the crib, put your daughter on the couch (or safely in her room), and give yourself a moment to sit down and just *stop*?

You're a writer. Writers pay attention. So notice everything that's happening at that moment. Just by removing yourself from the situation, you change it. And *you* change. Notice how that feels.

Notice what effect catching yourself mid-yell and getting silent has on your daughter. Try that a couple of times. Imagine the example you are setting for her by letting her see you grab a notebook and start writing when you're mid-yell. Or see what reaction you get by just staring at her when she's whining or acting out in a bid for your attention. Or what happens if you start laughing at yourself and the way raising two little kids can actually make you feel like you're in hell.

I'm offering these suggestions as just a few different options to try. Mix it up, see what works. Write what happens. Share your insights here. (Isn't that what this blog is for?)

But most of all, I hope you'll be kind to yourself. Your body is still in flux, little kids sometimes are as annoying as hell, and babies are sometimes insatiable. Love yourself enough to extend a hand of compassion to yourself and what you're experiencing. It won't last forever. I promise.