I am a yeller, from a long line of yellers. We yell, we holler, we yelp. It’s the way of my people. I’m married of course to a non-yeller. They don’t holler. They don’t yelp. They are stoic people. When my oldest acts out I am the first to holler one of my many yelps in her direction. ”Knock it off,” or “Are you kidding me with this?” “What are you doing? And don’t tell me ‘nothing!’” or my favorite, “Seriously?!” This is just a small sample of my sayings, which my daughter has picked up on and is now trying to use on her little brother. When he does something to annoy her, she’ll say, “Are you serious, Gunnar?” and his 13 month old face will look at hers in such puzzlement. I suppose it’s the same look on my girl’s face when I say something to her. Yes, there is this beast inside me that I have been trying to calm since having children. And mind you, I am sure it was there before, but the irritation I have toward my daughter’s insulants can get the best of me. I throw a mommy tantrum if you will. As most of you know, I struggled with why on earth I was spanking her when it was indeed sending the most ridiculous message. It sounded something like, “We don’t hit!” all while lending my hand to her backside… which did nothing on a physical level either I might add. She simply begged for me to “bring it on.” As she nears the age of 4, I have noticed a decline in her wild tantrums, which has been a relief.
After having no tantrums or outbursts in more than three weeks, she managed to save them all up for a major meltdown on Sunday morning. This was most unfortunate as I had both her and her brother in the car and we were making our way to get donuts for daddy. I had nothing, but the best intentions… get the kids out of the house so he can sleep, and supply him with some strong Starbucks and chocolate covered pastries. All good things. As we sat in line at Starbucks, my girl started kicking the console. I turned to tell her to stop and she replied, “I will not! I will punch my brother!” I said, “You’d better not Elsa! I am going to give you a time-out as soon as we’re out of this line!” I pointed furiously at a parking lot near the coffee joint in an effort to stifle her plans. It didn’t work. Instead, she hit her brother square in the nose at what appeared to be at about 50% her strength. He looked so sad. More than just physically hurt, he just looked at her with such disappointment. I immediately saw red. ”Keep your hands to yourself!” I yelled. Looking for an exit, I realized I was stuck in goddamn line and would be going nowhere. To make matters worse, the people screwed up my order… two black coffees and couldn’t figure out what I wanted. I was trying to be polite while threatening my daughter in the backseat with everything and anything I could take away from her. She was so wound up she didn’t care. She hit her brother again. I hollered through the window at the cashier to keep the change and sped off. Suddenly silent, my daughter realized we weren’t going anywhere good.
“Where are we goin’ mama?”
Without saying a word, I pulled into the parking lot of, fittingly, a desolate church. I pulled her from the backseat and plopped her butt on the pavement. It was only 8am, but the Alabama heat was already palpable. ”Sit down. And don’t move!” She groveled for a few moments before conceding that I had won this battle. She would get no TV for the day and she understood that there were consequences to her actions. The ride home was silent and long.
My hubby thought that something had happened to us it had taken so long… and I was still steaming. Still steaming. He reminded me that I had already disciplined her and that I needed to let it go, but I couldn’t stop lecturing her. Oh how I struggle with my actions. I wish that I could have that calm and collected personality that just lets it all go, but I obviously don’t. I have decided that motherhood is a very lonely journey and we are our worst judges and enemies. I know that this is all but a speck of time in my life, but it feels so trying. I know that one day, maybe even tomorrow, I will look back with great sentiment on my kids as they were small, but today I feel like I am under constant test and scrutiny, from the lot.
I think it’s time to tame this beast… my inner tiger. It’s time to start exploring what that means to me and how to find solace as a mom. I’m not alone. Am I? There’s a book here that hasn’t been written. I just know it.