Let me start by saying this. I love my son. I love him very much. I love him so much in fact that sometimes I wonder if my feelings for him border on obsession. I’m so enjoying the age he is at, constantly learning and asking countless questions (“Mom but why are your boobies so big and mine so small?”)
I am discovering new things about him almost everyday. But there is something to be said about how testing this age can be. It’s like something in two-three year olds head just snaps and they become more defiant, more strong willed, more impossible than you ever imagined! The emotional highs and lows became even more erratic as they drift between feelings of security and insecurity. The sweet boy I have always known and adored disappears for moments and I honestly barely recognize the child in front of me. These are the moments when I get really sad. As these moments become more frequent, I pray my sweet child will make his way back to me. And wish with all my weary heart that one day I wont lose him all together.
So where is all this coming from you ask? I’ve had to really dig deep and do a lot of soul searching the last few days following what was quite possibly my lowest mom moment yet. I will tell you this story, but brave yourself. It got ugly. Real ugly.
Allow me to set the scene for you: I was still recovering from a nasty virus when on valentines day I decided to finally do our dreaded weekly shop! I picked up my little lad from school dressed all in red to celebrate this lovely day of love (he had even instructed daddy to buy his teacher a rose) and I told him our plan of action (something I view as vital for occasions such as this). We were going to shop and then go for a special valentines day milkshake with the love of his life, his cousin Maddi. His response to my plan was, as usual, a long, elaborate story…… “ Yes that’s a great idea mom. That will be fun. I will have a blue one. Maddi will have a pink one. Cos she is a girl. Girls have pink and boys have blue. I also like pink. And then we will go for a ride. You will give me some coins mom. And then maybe maddi will come for a cup of tea and to the trampoline. Or to Gagis house….yes that will be fun. Oh hello Brody. Did you have a nice day Brody bear?” And so it began. Another afternoon of full- on!!! “One thing at a time bub…. Lets start with a shop and if you are a good boy we will have a milkshake ok? “I’m a good boy!” Bribery at its best.
So armed with snacks for my 7 month old, a very specific shopping list (which I NEVER stick to) and a positive attitude (despite a lingering virus) we entered pick n pay. I’ve always heard about tantrums in grocery stores and to be honest had never had to endure one. Boy was I in for a lovely surprise. About 10 minutes in the whining started. “But I want a milkshake now!” “Noah if you moan and whine and talk to me in that voice there will certainly be no milkshake. Change your voice please.” Keep calm I told myself. Something deep inside of me knew something was brewing. Focus and keep calm. Two more isles to go.
As usual some strangers started to engage with both the boys and a sweet lady asked Noah how old he was to which he just outwardly ignored. “Noah the lady asked you a question, its rude to ignore someone when they talking to you. Tell the lady…. What’s your name?” “No I don’t want to talk to that lady. I don’t want to.” I told the lady how truly sorry I was and explained he was acting very out of sorts. I always feel the need to show or tell people that we don’t allow bad behavior. Almost as if his bad behavior is a reflection of my bad parenting. So when we walked away I told him how horrible and rude that was, that he needs to be polite to people when they talk to him. “Please change your attitude Noah….I can tell maddi not to come” That seemed to do it. The rest of the shop all the way to the teller was fine. We paid and made our way to the café to wait for his cousin.
The minute they arrived his behavior changed again. He was climbing the counter walls, snatching things, demanding rides and pulling horrible defiant faces when I told him to stop, calm down, listen or sit still. I sat him down and gave him a final stern talking too. And then the uncontrollable crying started. The I-want-my way- and ill-do-anything-to –get-it cry. I knew what I had to do but I also knew I had to calm down before I did it. In hindsight I know I should have left right then. But the milkshake had already been ordered. There is something inside of us as moms that so badly want to believe that things will get better. We don’t want to admit defeat. I was already so angry at this point I knew smacking him would probably be more for my benefit than his. I smacked him anyway. A crisp one on his leg. He screamed louder (not just crying but actual high pitched screaming) so I warned him another hiding was on the way. He endured about 4 hidings before we even made it to pay for parking. By now he was even more hysterical and performing so badly I made one last attempt to deal with the situation. I took him firmly by the arms and placed him even more firmly against to the wall to have time out. What I didn’t realize that in my fury and rage and absolute despair I had handled him a little bit too roughly and he bumped his head against the wall. I was aware of the eyes on us. Some of them pity. Some of them complete horror! Some of them were actual care and sympathy. My sister in law Shelley had decided to follow me like a hawk with her girls to make sure I was ok. We all know the story about the crazy woman who kills her children and then turns the gun on herself. Even her eyes, though calm and sympathetic showed worry and concern. She had never seen me like this.
When it is in your nature to have it all together and be in control, it’s a horrible feeling when that safety net is ripped out from underneath you and you are faced with emotional chaos. Its made even worse when these things happen in public, where you feel your life is on display in front of other people who you assume are judging you. I so badly wanted to shout “What?? Have you never seen a child have a tantrum before??? Have you never seen a mother lose it before??? Well have a hard look. This is what crazy looks like. This is what an emotional breakdown looks like!” Or to the young girls in their early 20’s (or hot mom friends… yes you Tanya) walking out the gym (all skinny and gorgeous) looking at me with my baby and screaming toddler wearing an oversized post pregnancy dress and frizzy hair (because Brody vomited in it and I didn’t have time to iron it straight) and no make-up……I want to shout to the young girls “Enjoy this time…enjoy your skinny little asses now…. Don’t have kids, don’t get married young…..don’t. have. Kids.!!!” Looking back I’m glad I didn’t say anything, or though it would have made for a much more interesting story wouldn’t it!
We eventually made it to the car. The next 10 minutes were a blur as I tried to make sense of what just happened. I was still angry but my heart was starting to break. Noah kept saying to me he loved me, desperately telling me how sorry he was. I didn’t say anything. I acted like a child and gave him the silent treatment. He told me his head was sore. And then the panic set in. What just happened back there? How did things get so horribly out of control? The second we got home I took him out of the car to examine his head and then I saw it. A huge golf ball size lump on the back of his head. And some blood! What followed was not my proudest moment. I grabbed him and hugged him so tightly and cried till I couldn’t breath. I kept saying, “I love you so much bub…. Mommy loves you so much” After what was probably about 5 minutes I realized I was sitting cradling him in the flowerbed barely able to breath. I was on the verge of a panic attack. Literally. The only thing that brought me back to reality was his sweet little voice saying “mommy don’t cry” and his squidgy little hands lifting my face up to wipe my tears. He was so beautiful in that moment. I will never forget it.
I’m not saying I should be sorry for disciplining him or being cross and frustrated. I’m not saying his behavior was not absolutely disgusting or excusable. What I am saying is that I crossed a line. I became so angry and embarrassed by his behavior that I allowed myself to get out of control. In doing that I wasn’t able to judge the situation properly and therefore I wasn’t able to deal with the problem appropriately. We all lose it at times, but when you become so panicked and infuriated that the rage makes you lose control? You know you have a problem.
Its funny how things can escalate. Its funny how the simplest tasks can become the ones we dread. Its funny how every time I even think of pick n pay now, I physically want to get sick. I know I need to let go and learn from this but I still feel so horrible about what happened. Some of you moms may wonder what I’m even going on about. Why I feel so guilty about something that seems so small. But here’s the thing, we all know deep down in our hearts what’s right and wrong and if I’m going to teach my child to change his words and adjust his attitude but carry on like that? Well, that’s just not what I want for myself. Noah deserves better. I have always tried so hard to be a great a mom (and I’m sure I am most of the time) but that doesn’t mean I can’t strive to be a better one and make changes along the way. We are all learning yes, and sometimes it takes hurdles like this to realize you may need to change our ways. And change our hearts.
In all the chaos that day, I was comforted by my lovely sister in law who followed me home! In all the madness, she was there for me to pick up all the pieces of my broken heart. She never once judged me or made me feel crazy. If anything she played it down saying she had been there far too many times before. She made me feel normal. She came through for me that day and I’m so so grateful for her (thank you shellsJ)
I think we all try so hard to be perfect so when things like this happen we feel we are all alone. I felt I was the only mom in my circle of friends who has ever allowed things to get so bad. What I found out through telling my story to my friends is that they are all dealing with the same things all the time. So while I feel we need to be more forgiving and more gentle with ourselves I can only hope that we will somehow learn to be more honest with each other and challenge each other to make wiser decisions when it comes to raising our children. Lets not hide the ugly truth from each other or be embarrassed about our hideous mistakes. Lets learn from each other. Talk about our worries, anxieties and fears. Lets build each other up. Challenge each other. Lets not make excuses for each other all the time. Lets encourage each other to make good calls on things and offer helpful advice. I don’t want to live with all these regrets or look back and pray I could do it all over again. We raise our children once. We get one shot at it and I want to be the best mom I can be. Don’t you??