Friday, April 13, 2007

We don't always hurt the ones we love, but sometimes we consider it

No jokes today, my friends. No funny stories or silly questions. Today is not a happy day.

This morning I was forced into that place where only parents of toddlers have been. Forced into a very deep pit of anger and frustration by my daughter, an otherwise easy child, in the presence of strangers. Almost two hours later I'm still shaking.

Because today I wanted to hurt my child.

Earlier today Chicky and I attended our morning playgroup. I noticed toward the end she was acting a bit unlike herself - more tired than usual, unhappy and slightly cranky - but I had to run to Staples to make copies for an upcoming class. Normally she's pretty good in stores, as good as a toddler can be anyway. But today? My normally sweet child was taken over by a raving, destructive lunatic.

As I was trying to make copies she was pulling pamphlets out of cardboard displays (why do they put those at toddler-level?), trying to pull stacks of papers off shelves, opening and slamming all the drawers of the three copiers, and when that wasn't enough she tried running through the store and out of my eye sight. Screaming. Loudly. And every time I tried to stop her she would scream louder and flail and hit. One time as I picked her up to try to calm her down she slapped me on the side of the head so hard I saw stars and heard ringing in that ear.

And then she laughed. Maniacally.

There is nothing worse than your child laughing at you after slugging you.

I'd had it at that point. I scooped her up like a football in one arm and proceeded to finish my copying with the other. Not so easy when you're carrying a 25 pound squirming, screaming child. Then she kicked off her shoes with such force it almost hit some poor unsuspecting man. So then I was scooping up shoes, trying to keep an eye on my bag, making copies, juggling papers and carrying my tantruming toddler, all while trying to keep my cool. I don't think I did a very good job.

The blood was starting to rise to my face. I was hot and angry. The copy center was busy - of course, because that's my luck - and people were shooting me nasty looks because my kid was acting out. And she hit me again. Hard.

That was the moment I wanted to hurt her. I wanted to spank her. Pinch her. Grab her little arm and squeeze. God help me I wanted to shake her until she had a reason to scream.

Instead I paid for my copies and took her out to the car, where she proceeded to scream the entire way home. And there I put her to bed, which is what we both needed. No I love you's, no kisses and hugs. I just put her in her crib and shut the door.

I thank whatever higher power that was responsible for her falling fast asleep.

Because now I sit, shaking from my anger and fear. Fear, because I know there will be other times when she'll push me, and anger because I can't believe that she would act that way, which is stupid because she's a toddler and doesn't know any better which makes me turn my anger towards myself.

I don't know how I appeared on the surface today, but from the looks on those people's faces I don't think I held it together very well. My kid pushed me to that edge, that horribly dark place where I never want to go again. I'm disgusted with her but I'm more disgusted with myself. I'm the Mommy. I should know better. But when she's irrational, horribly irrational, I become irrational.

I really hope her nap is a long one today. For both our sakes.

63 comments:

WI Mommy said...

It sounds to me like you handled it quite well given the circumstances. You DIDN'T hit her, you didn't scream at her. You put her in a safe place and took the time to calm down and reflect. Don't be so hard on yourself! (And if you figure out a graceful, effective way to handle these situations - pass it on to me!)

mm said...

Yeah... been there. Done that. Though there are days I holler and howl and freak right out too.
I have a huge bruise on my arm from where I get pinched during the football hold to get out of the school alive and not beaten manoever...
yeah... parenting sucks some days. It really does. Chicky sounds just like my monsters. Welcome. Come, sit, stay and break out the cookies.
Think of them as "battle pay".

Janet a.k.a. "Wonder Mom" said...

I say, screw those bystanders...What? They don't have kids? If not...totally screw 'em...

It happens. Often. In the most crowded of stores, of course.

Welcome, welcome my buddy to the wold of toddlerhood!!!!

Sit down, have a glass of Cabernet and cozy on up here...Sorry the couch is so crowded, but this toddlerhood thing is filled with mommies just like you and me...and we are all in it together...

nomotherearth said...

Omigod, have I been there. It's not a fun place to be, and I'm not proud of myself for going there. Sometimes with toddlers, though, I think the trip is unavoidable. Hang in there.

mamatulip said...

Replace your daughter's name with Oliver's and this is my story. And this happens to me on a regular basis with him. I have never been tried or tested more than with him. Ever.

I know exactly how you feel. It sucks, it's not fun, but you handled it well. Really well. From one mom who's been there more times than she cares to admit to another, I'm proud of you.

Pendullum said...

Honey...
I heat your pain...
And I had a deep shiver as I reflect back to those times...
it ain't pretty...And we have all lived through them... (Barely in some cases!)
and my mom says'It is just a taste of the teens!'
GREAT! JUST GREAT!
Hope she naps well...
and you can have a nice tea... and do something nice for yourself....

Bobita~ said...

I hear you loud and clear...I recently wrote a post about struggling at times with this very thing. I'm sending out "long, very long nap" vibes.

I wish I had a suggestion...because I know what it can feel like to be where you are today. Just know that I am with you in spirit...offering my undying support.

Lawyer Mama said...

I've been there. It is so much more stressful when it happens with an audience. And an audience you just know is judging you. But it sounds like you did hold it together. You wanted to hit her, but you didn't. Don't beat yourself up for being human.

Blog Antagonist said...

One awful thing about becoming a mother is that you begin to understand how child abuse occurs. And that is a terrible thing to know.

But it happens to everybody. We all have those moments. ALL of us, even those who deny it.

I can't even tell you how many times I've been there with Diminutive One. I thoroughly and completely understand your anger, your fear, and that new awareness of yourself.

But you chose not to hit her. You chose not to hurt her. And that is the difference between you and a child abuser.

The first time that anger happens, it is very unsettling. I know.

You handled it perfectly. Perfectly. Well done Mrs. C.

ECR said...

Yup, I hear ya. I know exactly what you're talking about. Probably most moms do. Which is comforting. We've got that going for us.

Dirty Birdie said...

Honey, cut yourself some slack. You did amazing!! Do you know how many mom's DO lose it?? LOTS and I've watched them beat the life out of their kid in front of everyone. I've heard them call their children nasty names and degrade them.

You are a wonderful mom from what I can see (read). Don't be so hard on yourself.

Stie said...

I second all the pats on the back - you held it together in good form. Kids push us to our very limits in all scopes of emotion - thank goodness we can love 'em as much as we want to beat 'em. My sympathies as far as the public display - had that walk of shame to my car more times than I'd like to count. You did the right thing! The sad part (for you) is that she'll probably wake up from her nap all happy and adorable...

Jess Riley said...

Ouch--what a stinker she was! Sometimes kids seem to have multiple personality disorder. But it sounds like you handled the outburst as gracefully as possible. Hang in there; better days are ahead!!!

bubandpie said...

Everybody has that place.

Only mothers really look at it.

This post gave me chills because it's so, so familiar.

Kelly said...

I wish I could walk to your door, knock on it, hand you a nice hot cup of coffee, and pat you on the shoulder, because seriously, we have all SO been there.

And it is horribly frightening, and it will probably happen again. Our kiddos, man, they know how to push those buttons, and when they're little, perhaps it's not with intention, but it doesn't take away the frustration and rage on our part.

But, like the other commenters said, you did alright. You held it together. You didn't haul off and smack her. You didn't do something that you couldn't take back. You were angry, and rightfully so.

I admit to not always accepting the advice I dish out, but go easy on yourself. Kids are hard. Really fucking hard sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Lurker here. You did fine. Had you lost your cool, then you might have a reason to feel badly. Now you simply know when you are close to that breaking point. Remember it, and should you find yourself there again, go home with her and let her nap. Better to avoid the possibility of losing it and get the errand done another time.

PDX Mama said...

I think we have all been there and if not, we will all get our chance. They can sure be stinkers sometimes. We're not robots, we're going to feel anger with them at times. You just hope, hope, hope that some rationality creeps in to temper it.

If it makes you feel any better, I had a horrible mommy moment a couple of years ago after my son kept repeatedly pulling my hair. Finally, half out of reaction, I pulled his. He started crying. Not a good mommy moment.

Mrs. Chicky said...

PDX Mama - That story does help. It shouldn't make me feel better, but it does. Thanks.

Dave Scott said...

My mother had 5 kids and I can tell you this we were terrible at times. Now keep in mind this was 45 years ago when standards were different, but she would take her fist/feet/elbows and literally knock the crap out of us. We turned out ok. But you are very incredibly wonderful for not hurting the child. HUGS

margalit said...

We've all been there. It's amazing toddlers survive into teenagehood to REALLY drive us crazy.

Some Assvice, unsolicited. But this worked well for me. Find a little trip that Chicky really wants to go to. Maybe the new Children's Museum or something like that. Where her behaviour must be good. And then go and let her have fun. BUT... the minute she starts to ignore your entrities to behave, you give her the warning. "If you do not behave and stop xxx, we will leave." Then let her misbehave again, pick her up and leave. No talking, no discussion...just LEAVE. This works amazingly well and scares the jebus out of kids who think they can act like jerks with no consequences. It's a lot better than hitting your kid or screaming at your kid and it makes a lasting impression. All you have to say in the future is "If you don't behave we will leave." They know you mean it. You get to be powerful without doing anything that will make you feel crappy later on. It's a win win.

mothergoosemouse said...

Sometimes they push us to the brink. I remember a morning, maybe a month ago, where I stood in Tacy's room and anchored myself to the floor as I told her, straight out, "I want to spank you. I'm not going to do it, but you have made me really, really angry."

The ironic part? I don't even remember why.

I rarely feel the temptation to act out physically, but having my ears boxed by a toddler would do it. My challenge is holding my acid tongue.

I wish I could pour a glass of wine for both of us, because Kyle just told me that he'll be gone all day tomorrow. Oy.

Kristin said...

I had one of those "squeeze the upper arm a little too firmly" moments today... maybe because it was the 400th time Eva had pulled away from me in the parking lot, or maybe it was because she was pretending she was a pony and everyone knows ponies aren't expected to hold friggin' hands with their mothers... whatever, as I yanked her back from yet another near miss with a Land Rover, I felt the desire to just give her a bit more pressure on the old bicep... I settled for a squeeze and told her, "look you are really going too far and I am angry with your behavior..." hell, if she knows ponies don't hold hands, she knows mommies can get mad.

AnotherMomCreation said...

I must think about 50 times a day about eating a cookie. Most days I resist... but right now... I want a cookie too!

Damn food network. Its my favorite channel too.

jen said...

oh honey. i forgot to turn in my human being chip when i had a kid. maybe you did too. in the long run, it's better this way.

it's the sum, friend. not the parts. you are a wonderful mom.

the new girl said...

This post makes me want to cry.

I appreciate your honesty so much, really.

It's so difficult to come face to face with those dark feelings that we all have snoozing deep inside us, curled up in a place doesn't recognize that the source of the sudden rage is a little kid (who doesn't and couldn't know any better.) Thankfully, there are other parts of us that take over for that and compensate, most of the time. Your 'other parts' were working well, it sounds like.

Thanks so much for sharing your experience. Tomorrow will be a better day.

Tabba said...

I'm sorry you had such a rough day. I hope that it turned around for you.
No advice, no comparative story here.
It was just a bad day - and who cares about those people in the store. You did the best you could.
Hang in there.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

You DID hold it together well, no matter what your face looked like. You didn't hit her, throw her, scream, etc. You have the right to be angry but you were smart and knew you had to get her home to bed. Walking away, curling into a fetal position, looking yourself into a bathroom---this is ALL handling it 'well' b/c the alternatives leave a mark on their body and soul. (PS, I'm definitely no saint. One step forward, two steps back--it's a constant work in progress).

Christina said...

We all lose our cool sometimes. If you didn't, you wouldn't be human. But you handled yourself far better than many would.

Cordy tests me all the time, and has pushed me to the limits more than I can count. I don't know if you remember or were reading my blog about a year ago (somewhere around January or February), but I did smack Cordy once when she bit down hard into my shoulder and wouldn't let go. It was a knee-jerk reaction to the pain, and I felt horrible afterwards, although it doesn't seem to have done any permanent damage to her.

Wanting to hurt your child during a particularly bad moment is a perfectly normal thing. Acting on it is a whole 'nother story entirely.

Jennifer said...

I'm impressed on how well you DID hold it together.

We've all been there. They've all pushed us to the brink.

Great, honest post.

Redneck Mommy said...

I have been there, more times than I care to really remember, what with three toddlers. Sigh.

Sounds to me you handled yourself beautifully. If it helps, I'll share. One time I was in a very busy department store and I was packing the Bug around because he refused to be in his wheelchair. He was acting up and I was losing my patience with him.

He got fed up with me and BIT me so hard on the shoulder he broke my skin. He was three. I almost dropped him, it hurt so damn much.

I let out a scream and all the evil mommy eyes who were watching us and judging us just looked at me and shook their heads. Well, I strapped that kid into his wheelchair so fast his head must have spun. And then I looked him in the eye and told him not to bite.

When I was looking at him all I wanted to do was bite him back. My shoulder was bleeding, my nerves frazzled, my feelings hurt and the only thing I could think of was biting my kid.

I did the walk of shame out of that store that day. And I have never forgotten how he pushed me so far, and so fast.

Hang in there. Parenting is a full of growing pains. For you and the chicklet.

xoxo

kristen said...

I imagine we've all been there at one time or another.

I never yell but have done so a couple of times and just felt awful and I've even done a hard pick up and put down in the corner. She's never hurt or even worse for it. For me... I feel terrible. Awful. It's the worst part of parenting for me.

Well, that and the teething and the medical decisions... and...

cripes.

something blue said...

I have been very thankful for the crib.

Try not to be hard on yourself. Phooey on those judgmental glances. You did exactly what any good mother would do.

That toddler stage where the test us and yet they still don't have the skills to understand when we try to reason, is hard. Damn hard. I'm going through the same thing.

Pattie said...

Every parents has been there at one time or another. Heck, with my three kids, that is a weekly occurance. I have felt like that too many times to count. Cut yourself some slack. You did the right thing. You put her in a safe place and took some time to decompress. I hope you are feeling better today :)

Kyla said...

Everyone has been there. It sucks and it happens...but you did the right thing. Everyone needs a time out when it gets to that point.

PunditMom said...

Those moments are scary, but you're not alone. We've all had those moments and have to try to find the way to keep our cool. You did great.

Momish said...

I too have been there and sadly did not behave as well as you did. I actually slapped my daughter's hand hard enough to make it red. The site of seeing her hand turn red made me sick to my stomach. I couldn't believe I had lost all my self control like that, in just an instant.

I remember losing all sense of reality and humanity in that moment and it scared me down to the core of my being. It took me hours to settle down, and the feeling of wanting to throw up was with me until the next day.

I really appreciate you writing about this, it helps me feel a tad better knowing others suffer through the same inner turmoil as well. That it is something the best of mother's deal with now and then.

Day said...

Everyone so far has said what I was thinking. We have all been there and it is scary to have such thoughts.

Next time something like this happens again just remember how you handled it and how you did not hit and how with all things ..."this too shall pass".

Thank you for the post.

lisa said...

I completely understand how you feel. I've been in this position many times before, and isn't it a terrible feeling when people look at you as if *you* have all control over the way she is acting, and *you* should be doing something about it? As if you have some sort of magical power that will make your daughter realize that what she is doing is unacceptable. I sympathize.

Mad Hatter said...

Oh. That place. I know that place well. It has beaten me down on several occasions. I wish I didn't ever end up there but I don't know how you can parent a child and not go there. Days like today are hard Chicky but they are the exception not the rule.

SUEB0B said...

You're a good momma.

flutter said...

There is nothing that you cannot control. You chose not to shake her, you chose not to hit her.
You see? You chose. There will be so many times in her life where you will have to make that choice, and the fact that it bothered you to feel that way towards your child, tells me that you will always choose wisely.

moosh in indy. said...

Let me be the 42nd person to tell you that you did stupendously. Go hang out in Indiana for an hour, there's where you'll see bare butt spanking in the middle of ailse 6.
The world is divided into two classes, those who have had toddlers and those who haven't, the latter can kiss you keester.

kittenpie said...

Honey, it sounds like you handled it REALLY well. No parent has not had a day like that once. No parent has not had a time when they snarled at their child, physically crammed them into their coat, dropped them in their crib and walked away without a word, whatever. No parent has not felt bad about it afterward, but the truth is - they have done the best they can, and handled it well because they held it in.

That football hold you mention? Is the reason that they go through this shit when they are small enough to do that with. Because sometimes there is no reasoning, you just have to take things literally into your own hands and know that as a parent, you are doing what you need to in order to get through this moment. I've used it myself, it doesn't hurt them. Putting her into her crib and walking away? Good for you. Done that too. It gives you both time to recharge and calm down, and it doesn't hurt to reinforce that you are not happy, as long as you can let it go over the course of her nap and hug her again afterwards.

I would be willing to bet there were some looks of sympathy in there too, it's just hard to see past your own feelings of being overwhelmed and embarrassed and angry.

Ya done fine, kid.

Alpha DogMa said...

I get angry, but I stay in control. My kids know (b/c I tell them point blank) that I love them no matter what, even when they make my angry. I'm allowed to get angry. I'm allowed to show my anger. I'm not allowed to be aggressive. No one is.

You were angry.
You were not aggressive.
The first is acceptable and inevitable. The latter a lesson in self control, for you and for her.

cce said...

Sounds like all your fair readers can relate. And I for one can say that for some reason copy centers bring out the worst in my children. Their eyes get that vengeful glint, the begin frothing at the mouth and making high pitched humming sounds before becoming completely hateful. Must be the lighting or the music or a sound the copiers make that only children can hear. Lucky for me there is a candy store adjacent to our copy center. I'm not above bribery.

Sandra said...

We've all felt that. We've all been there. I have a zillion times and usually end up in tears when I can't keep it together. You are a good mom.

Mamma said...

No wise words to add. Just wanting you to know that you're not alone and I understand. We all understand.

Di said...

Oh my gosh. Who hasn't been there. Sometimes I get there early on, sometimes it takes a while. Your kids are able to make you experience love and anger at the deepest levels, sometimes at the same moment. Be who you can, it is all you can do!

Elizabeth said...

I have been there. And like Blog Antagonist said, I have had days where I understood how child abuse starts. My husband spent a year and a half travelling on business starting when the boys were 5 and 3. I still remember one time when I grabbed Nathan by the arm and literally threw him into his bedroom.

I can only imagine how hard that must have been in the copy center for you, and I wish I could have been there to help. Personally, if I ever see that happening to another Mother in a store, I would go over and start talking to the kid, trying to distract them. I'm surprised no one else in the store offered to help you.

Julie Pippert said...

Oh that moment...oh yes, that SUCKS.

All the compassion another mother of another toddler (current and one past) can give to you.

Birdsword said...

you know I think about this situation a lot. Because as a NP I once had to report a woman who told me she hit her kid. She hit her kid because she said, she thought her child was trying to be rotten on purpose and she could not handle it. This woman had a lot of issues going on, depression, an infant and a two year old at home and she needed help. I wonder did I help her or make things worse by reporting her? I reported her because she said she hit her 2 year old so hard there was a hand print left on her child. This is why. Her primary MD wasn't happy with me. Dr. C told me one day I would see what it was like. And now with two kids of my own I do and to this day I wonder did I do the right thing or did I make the situation worse...My kids drive me crazy sometimes, I try my best to keep my cool. It is hard to do!

Adrienne said...

Not a parent in the world can say they have never been in those shoes. Mine are grown and I can't wait for the day for their kids to give them their cuppupance.

I will admit to times when I told my kids to go to their rooms and lock their doors and no matter what I told them afterwards to NOT let me in.

Always, always, remember to BREATHE!

dodo said...

that put a lump in my throat. but you didn't retaliate. you didn't. and that makes you awesome. I wish i could claim the same self control.

rachel said...

BTDT over and over. There is nothing like being physically hurt to make you want to lash out back.

I hope your weekend was a lot better. Times like these suck. You aren't alone, though.

Avalon said...

Mrs C~~ Even at 23, my kid can still sometimes push me to the point that I'd like to swat her ass.........with a 2x4!

You did fine. Chicky is fine. It will happen again, and as a human being, both of you may react emotionally. that's OK. You are a good mother and she is a great kid.

Lisa said...

Those are the times I headed straight for the candy. Because HOLY SHIT, I was pissed. And if it was close to 4 ish, I would call the husband and tell him he'd better get his ass home or else.

You did a better job than I would have. I've screamed at my toddler a few times out of extreme frustration. (I feel horribly guilty.)

wayabetty said...

This is the reason why I love being part of this blogging community! To hear that I'm not alone in these frustration times, like today. School vacation starts and with that comes three kids are home instead of 1. And I did reach that boiling point today, and was ashamed afterward.

So, you're not alone and you handled the situation quite well, considering. But it won't be the last. Mine is dealing with 3 different personalities ALL DAY this week. Lord help me!

mo-wo said...

F'ing great post. I love when a blog chrystallizes opinion we might otherwise think is isolated.

You did a perfect motherly job. You were angry and JESUS Chicky has to learn about that full range of emotions junk somewhere. You are entitled to that.

Pretty much , year what alpha dogma said. That and great post.

Rock the Cradle said...

I wonder how many people in that store were parents of toddlers. Probably not many, since you would have getting some looks and words of sympathy.

But since they didn't have a bloody clue, screw 'em. You did great in a horrible situation.

Time for a BIG bloody drink. Or some ice cream. Or both.

Anonymous said...

I think you did great.GOOD FOR YOU!

Damselfly said...

Ugh, I've reached the irrational point as a parent, and my boy's not even a toddler yet! You're a good mom ... we all get frazzled.

petite gourmand said...

there must have been something in the air last weekend.
Lulu pushed me over the edge as well.
don't blame yourself though (even though I did the exact same thing)
it's all a learning process, for both them AND us.

Mrs. Chicken said...

I wrote about this Monday. And today when The Poo hit me in a busy restaurant, I took her out and behind the dining area, where I finally just yelled at her at the top of my voice while I held her down during an impromptu time-out.

It is a bad place to be. But I'm there with you, and I promise we'll both do the right thing.

Because we love them.