|Posted on April 4, 2012 at 8:00 AM|
Confessions. Molly, Ellie and I decided to include confessions as a part of our blog posts. These aren’t “I don’t make my dinner rolls from scratch" type confessions. They are the type of confessions that require inner reflection, self-evaluation and sometimes a life learning that forces you to change your course the next time. They are not easy to write about.
Here is my confession.
Have you ever heard of a “Monster Mom”? Monster Mom is a term some mothers use to describe themselves when they are having a bad parenting day. When for whatever reason, fatigue, stress or everyday life chaos makes you crack. This week, I had a Monster Mom moment.
I yelled (like, really yelled) at my 2 year-old son. He was not happy about having his diaper changed, which is often the case when he has a messy diaper. He was crying, flailing his feet and squirming around, causing ‘the mess’ to get all over the changing table. I couldn’t help but yell,“STOP IT! I DON’T WANT TO BE DOING THIS EITHER AND YOU NEED TO HELP MOM!” It was kind of like a yell and a hiss at the same time.
He only cried and flailed harder.
It wasn’t the words that were awful; it was the yelling and out-of-control emotion I felt. In addition to the volume, I was also squeezing his ankles to get his attention - and wishing I had the ability to squeeze them harder. Nice one, Monster Mom; when the yelling doesn’t work resort to ankle-squeezing.
Later, the guilt forced me to reflect.
Did my son stop his tantrum when I yelled? No.
Did my yelling teach him a lesson? No, he only cried harder and became more upset.
My own mother had tried to pass along this lesson to me, but maybe I needed to learn it for myself. She had told me on a few occasions the story of when I was a child, she was yelling at me and asked if I understood why. I answered, “I understand that you are yelling.”
Well…that about sums it up doesn’t it?
I realized that yelling is not the means to teach my child. Yes, maybe there are those rare occasions when your child is running towards the street and you have to yell in hopes of getting their attention. But it is those other occasions when I am frustrated at his behavior that I know yelling will not teach him anything. He will be too upset to process my words and we will both walk away confused, one of us with much more guilt than the other. At least until the next time he has a messy diaper and starts thrashing his feet once again.
I had to force myself not to feel guilty for too long. I know I will remember the incident way longer than my 2 year-old son will. Occasionally, Monster Mom comes out, and occasionally, it is a stress-relief-matter-of-survival thing for me. And hey, if at least I learned something as a mom, it can’t be all bad, right?