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A rough mommy day

A rough mommy day

Yesterday was a rough mommy day. I was not patient, I was not kind. I heard the way I was speaking to my children, and while I didn’t like it, I couldn’t make it stop. My words were critical, my tone was startling, my threats were idle and they knew it.

Use a fork when you eat…Please just use your fork…I guess we just won’t use forks in this house anymore.

Be kind to your brother…Be kind or I’ll need to take the toys from both of you…Stop fighting.

Stop screaming. Stop running.  Stop…..being a kid.

I locked my eyes with theirs, but my frustrations blinded me preventing me from truly seeing them. Until I took a breath, heard my own words, and paused. Then I saw into their very beings. I felt their sadness, but worst of all, I think I saw fear. They were afraid of what I would say next, unsure of the behavior that would lead to reproach. I was inconsistent, I was cranky, I was off my game.

I don’t have any false illusions about being a perfect mom (whatever perfect means), but in that moment, I saw my own cracks and realized I had forgotten to love. I had forgotten that it was possible to step down from my position as taskmaster and accomplish everything on my list while also being mommy. I had forgotten to be gentle and to tend to their spirits, not just their growling bellies, unmade beds and too-short pants.

In my desire to clean the house, make the meals, get the groceries, clean the closets, and buy new jeans for the little guy, I had overlooked what they wanted most – to be loved.

How much better it would have been for all of us if I would have looked into their big eyes sooner and stopped. How much less time and energy it would have taken to complete the list if I wasn’t scolding and lecturing and instead, if I would have hugged them and loved them.

The thing is, I know better. As a parenting lecturer, I am quite good at telling other parents how to manage their households. I offer helpful advice, such as:

  • Lead with empathy.
  • Ask questions to make them think about their choices.
  • Speak softly.
  • Help the child own the problem.

Most of the time I am able to follow my own advice, but when I slip, it’s not just a stumble, I fall hard and the recovery is not graceful. I forget the tips and techniques that I am so eager to teach and I become the student. I have to step back and recognize my own faults. This is where I see my imperfections and realize how grateful I am to see it today, because that means I can also be better today.

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16 Comments

  1. Thought this was good for grandparents also

  2. This is a great article. Thank you for reassuring me that I am not alone when I think I am not being the perfect mom. Sometimes we have to take a step back and realize that we should bite our tongue and just take a look at everything through their eyes. I go to sleep sometimes wondering “Why did I yell so much tonight and why was I so upset” and “Are they thinking the same thing as they fall asleep in their beds?”

    • Lynn Hutley

      Totally understand where you are coming from. I think I get angry because I see their behavior as a reflection of my own failure to teach them and I am actually upset with myself.

    • Jen Frey

      Thanks for responding! You are most certainly not alone. You are so right – the things that push my buttons are usually so irrelevant that I don’t even remember why I was upset!

  3. Great parenting advice Jen!

  4. I needed to read this today. I get so down on myself sometimes when I know I haven’t made the best parenting choices. It helps to learn that I’m not the only mom who struggles with housework and being 100% there for my daughter at the same time.

  5. This was a great read today! It is extremely hard being a wife,mom while maintaining a full time job. You never stop working. I am glad to know that I am not alone! I am working hard on spending more time with my babies whether it is eating dinner together, playing in the park or just listening to how their day went at school.

    • Jen Frey

      Thanks for commenting! There is never enough time to get it all done. I have learned to let a lot of it go, but as a recovering Type A Personality, that is not easy! I am hopeful my kids will remember the art projects we did together, not the dirty floors!

  6. Great article, Jen. As a mother of a 3 year-old and also 37 weeks pregnant, I find my patience running very thin days. Sometimes I feel like I need the time out to get my emotions in check before I threaten or yell.

    • Jen Frey

      Thanks for the comment. You have your hands full! One of the best phrases I have learned is “No Problem”. When I feel myself getting agitated, I can take a breath and tell my kids “No problem”. They have learned that phrase usually means no problem for mom, but a big problem for us.

  7. I really enjoyed this article because I know that there is always a better way. Even if I do not handle the situation “perfectly” the first time, I realized that we both are growing, myself as a parent and my daughter as human being, and child.

  8. Jen Frey

    I love your comment! Yes, we are imperfect people raising imperfect people.

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About the Author

Jen Frey
Jen Frey

Jen Frey, health enews contributor, manages the Transportation Department at Advocate Condell Medical Center. Jen has a journalism degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her master’s degree in Recreation Administration from Aurora University. Jen’s favorite things include traveling with her children, exercising and finding a great bargain.

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