I told you in my first post, this blog was going to be as honest as I could possibly make it. So here is, probably, the most honest blog I can write. I’m going to divulge the number one thing I hate about being a parent. This thing is the one thing that stops me in my tracks and can make me question whether or not I am really cut out for this gig. Wanna’ hear what it is? Huh? Do ya’? Well, here it goes, losing my patience.
I hate, more than anything, the fact that I get frustrated with a situation and it could impact my child’s view of me. It’s terrifying and I have had so many slip ups in Henry’s two years on this earth that I begin to wonder if I should have a therapist on retainer now.
I’ve lost it. I’ve had those moments when I was tired or hormonal or both (Oh God, the deadly duo) and completely lost it. Here’s the deepest secret that I have kept so far as a mother. I have yelled at my child. I yelled at my child when he was six months old. It still haunts me to this day. There are days that I might be feeling slightly cocky as a mom, days when I think I might have this down and then I remember.
I was working a third shift job and getting about four hours of sleep a night, some nights two and taking care of Henry during the day. I held tightly to the belief that when he went down for a nap, I could sleep for a few hours and stop hallucinating shadow people on the ceilings. At this point, Henry was still being bounced to sleep on a big blue gym ball and I had been bouncing him for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, I looked down and saw what I thought was a sleeping child. I stood and carefully set him into his crib, only to have his eyes jerk open and his mouth let out an enormous wail! I picked him up out of the crib and felt my blood pressure rising, that horrible feeling right before Mount Saint Helen blows. I started bouncing again, this time gritting my teeth so hard my jaw was aching. He cried and cried and cried, knowing that he would end up in his crib again. His cries were pounding on my exhausted brain and making my jaw clench tighter and tighter until finally,
“Stop!” It was loud. It was close to his face and it was beyond my control. He stopped crying out of being startled, the worst silence I have ever heard. Within moments, he was back to crying and so was I. I stood, put him in his crib and laid down on a Everest high pile of stuffed animals and lost it. I cried right there in his room, drowning Elmo and Olivia in my failure as a mother. “I can’t do this. I can’t do it.” I said it over and over and began to really believe it. I had scared my six month old baby. He had seen me at my absolute lowest. How would he ever trust me or look up to me again? I kept replaying it over and over in my mind. This little helpless six month old, what kind of mother does that?
I looked over at him and he was just standing there, standing up in his crib watching me break down in front of him. He wasn’t crying, he wasn’t even moving. My little son was being stronger than his own mother. It was then that I knew that I needed sleep, if only twenty minutes. He was safe where he was, probably safer than with me. I got up out of the pink and blue fuzz mound of despair and left the room.
I laid down on the couch and closed my eyes feeling defeated, exhausted and a failure. When I opened them, the house was quiet. Henry had fallen asleep on his own and I sat there thinking over it all. Was this the end? Was this what made mothers pull Kramer VS Kramer’s and pack bags and hop greyhound buses? Was this as far as I could go as a mother?
Remember I was exhausted and those times tend to make me blow things out of proportion. But there I was, thinking about his little scared face. I still think about it.
It’s what keeps me honest with myself, that and the fact that my patience has escaped me since then. I occasionally write in a little journal that I plan on giving Henry when I feel he is old enough to appreciate it, perhaps when he has children of his own. I wrote in it the day this happened. I wrote every detail down for him to read when he’s older. He needs to know, as I have learned, that loosing your patience is a part of this whole process. It’s the worst part. We want our kids to see us with super hero capes on and laser beam vision for as long as we can. But sometimes our capes get little holes and tears in them, even when our children are just six months old. But we can patch them and whip stitch them, making the fabric stronger for having the tear to begin with.
I have tried to institute new ways of going about things. If I feel that Mount Saint Helen feeling again, before I open my mouth or take action, I try to ask myself, do I have my game face on? Will this moment haunt me or will it make me feel empowered? Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But won’t it be a great day when we can sit down with our kids, they can get down from that teetering pedestal we keep them on and we can take off our superhero capes? Won’t it be wonderful when we can look at those pedestals and capes together? We’ll see that the patches and stitches on both are mirror images and that despite the fact that we are parent and child, we are exactly the same, patched up human beings that have come a long way together.