How many times have any one of us said that?
Me? Numerous times. In fact, probably more times than I care to count and/or recall. (Especially true the more evident it became that conception wasn't going to be something easily attained and I began "bargaining" with God about how I'd ditch my human habits and be the perfect mother if He'd just give me the chance to be one.)
The past few days have been stressfully nerve-wracking. I've been frustrated, consistently at wits' end, and extremely harsh on myself for feeling less than loving toward my world. And I haven't been this way because anything special is happening. Nope, no company, no impending deadlines (deadlines? what are those?), no commitments I've made that I have to talk myself into keeping...
Okay, in hind's sight, that last one probably isn't true. It is a commitment that I've made that's sent me to the edge. I am having the hardest time keeping this commitment and it's one I made to myself, my kids, and, well, to my God.
The commitment I made long before I had children was never to berate them. Never to belittle them. And always to refrain from using my words and my actions to terrify them in such a way that jeopardizes their trust in my love for them and in my belief that they're anything less than perfectly wonderful and a blessing.
Yesterday, well, I think I went beyond breaking that commitment.
The downhill spiral started when I was already frustrated by a-few-days-going lack of energy and lack of sheer desire to do much, if anything, related to my duties as a mother and a housewife. In my mind, I was screaming for a break. My body, however, was dragging me through the motions of daily life, propelled by coffee and other legal drugs. (Hm, maybe if I heeded my own advice from my previous blog I would have asked for help before I got to this point...... seriously, genius at work here, people!)
So I'm already toeing the line between sanity and psychological turmoil by time 10:45 AM rolls in, we've got two minutes to get out the door for a playdate and, well, (no surprise to most of you who know me) I can't find the car keys. Oh, I've found the spare, the grey key without the fancy black pad for opening the car without inserting the key or rolling down the windows before we get to it in order to release some of the hot air that's trapped inside.
But I don't want the grey one. I want the other one - the one with the pad. (Honestly, I have no rational explanation for why other than pure stubbornness because, that, my friends, is something I have plenty of.)
Over the next 15 minutes I search the junk drawer, diaper bag, kitchen counter, diaper bag, kitchen island countertop, diaper bag, pant pockets upstairs (even ones I'm pretty sure I didn't wear driving any time recently), bathroom counters, dresser, nightstand, diaper bag, bathroom downstairs, junk drawer, diaper bag, kitchen counters, top of the entertainment center, diaper bag, pants pockets again, diaper bag again, the car, diaper bag, yes, again, junk drawer - SLAM.
With both my children standing less than two feet from me, I, in complete and overwhelming frustration-turning-to-blinding-rage-turning-to-frantic-"why me?" have slammed the junk drawer shut, full force, on my pinky.
But, OH! You stupid pinky! You can't stop me! At this emotionally chaotic point, I will cut you off if I must to maintain my RIGHT to, at 31 years old, throw an absolute hissy fit in front of my children and not feel guilty about it! (My children do it all the time. I mean, really? Why can't I?!)
The slam of the drawer (not in the least bit muffled by my now squished-up pinky) and my loud and drawn-out groan (trying to muffle a scream) send my one year-old into hysterical tears which in turn sends my four year-old into even more hysterical wails. I yell at her to go to her room. I yell at her to stop crying - she's only doing it because her brother's crying and he's a baby! I yell at him to stop crying - Mommy's frustrated and Mommy has a right to be frustrated!
Now that I've turned my pinky into a throbbing, swelling, purple-ing twig and completely disgusted myself with the words I've just used toward my children, I scream at my daughter to come back downstairs and get in the car, grab my son and put him in his seat, yell at my daughter that I'm frustrated because she never listens to me and she always insists on her way and she doesn't give a shit about her mother!!!
I stop there cause I realize I've just role-played my childhood experiences and the words echo in my ears, sinking like a 10 ton ball into the bottom of my heart.
I buckle everyone and get in the car.
I turn on the car, blast the air conditioning, and just sit there. The escalation has stopped as those last words reverberate in my ears. I don't feel rage anymore. I don't feel guilt. I just feel shock.
What the hell was that? Who was that? Certainly not the mother I had always hoped I'd be. And definitely not the one who made the commitments she made before she ever conceived, hautily sneering at other moms who "lost it" in front of their children.
I don't berate myself. I don't start the inner dialog of "look what a crappy person you are" or "look how miserably you've failed". But I do sternly say to myself: "This is exactly the type of person I didn't want to become. No child deserves to be spoken to or treated in such a manner."
I take a deep breath. Shoot, I take about 20. I look at my pinky. It's throbbing, it's hot, and it's about twice the size of and nowhere near the healthy flesh color of my other pinky.
Both my children have calmed down. I take another deep breath and then turn to my daughter. I tell her, matter of factly, "this isn't your fault. Mommy's frustration isn't your responsibility. I lost the car key, got upset looking for it, and smashed my finger in the drawer and hurt myself. None of this is your fault. I should never have yelled like that at you or your brother. This isn't your fault. You are wonderful and I love you. I'm sorry."
My daughter stares at me, then shifts her eyes away, glosses over, and stares off into space. I cut her deep. I used words and rage and tone and actions that terrified her to a point where my naturally open and outgoing little girl has curled into herself. I trampled that security only a mother can give her child.
The first time I held my daughter in my arms, that not-so-tiny eight pound bundle of all my dreams come true, I made a commitment to her to give my all to ensure that every moment of her life was spent in the knowledge of how amazing, beautiful, precious, God-sent, wanted and loved she was. And now trust in the existence of that love was in jeopardy.
How does one recover from that? How does one fix this? My usually chatty daughter is quiet for a few minutes. (Really, that's saying something, cause this girl cannot sit still or be quiet for more than a 30 second period.) Slowly she resumes her normal chattering and questioning.
When we get to our destination I give her a tight hug for as long as she'll let me. But I know that's not enough to erase the sting of my screams. This will take much more than just "I'm sorry." Years in therapy as an adult? Eh, maybe one or two. Hopefully none.
My daughter happily dives into our playdate and toodles around like any other four year-old I know. My Fellow Fabulous Mom instantly asks me if something is the matter. Damn her for being so intuitive and caring! I let out, a little bit in a sing-songy voice, that I'm, oh you know, just a bit overwhelmed, frustrated - you know, the usual. Then I rattle off: "plus I smashed my finger in the junk drawer looking for the car key" at which point I hold up the sodden swollen mess for her to see.
I take a deep breath, sigh, and tell my FFM, "you know, typical daily life stuff"...
As for the other moms - the ones I used to thumb my nose at and say "When I'm a mom, I'll never do that" because, being childless (not to mention young and, unbeknownst to me at the time, incredibly naive and, well, just downright stupid) I obviously knew better than them. I see why those mothers acted the way they did. Cause now I've done it.
But I also see why I said I'd never take those actions. If I was blessed to have them, I wanted to show my children perfect love. Love that screamed with every ounce of it's being that they were and always would be beautiful, incredible, amazing, loveable, and loved. A love that, if yesterday's any indication, I will probably never, ever be able to deliver in the perfect way it should be. A perfect love that I will, nonetheless, die trying to show my children.
"When I'm a mom, I'll never do that." Huh. Bet those other moms said that too.
End note: And the other key? In the diaper bag. First thing I touched when I reached my hand in after we got home. Go fig.