Mommy rage. It’s such a strange sensation and like nothing I’ve experienced prior to having children. The blood goes hurling up to my head. A pit the size of a baseball forms in my stomach. And I scream. And shake. And lose control.
Sometimes, afterward, I try to look at the experience as a fly on the wall. I must look like a monster. I must look like the worst mother in the world. The worst person in the world. How can someone be so enraged at a child? How can someone lose control over a spill, a mess, or an accident?
Pre-child me would be shocked. Pre-child me would be disgusted. “Get yourself together, Celeste” I would say. “What the hell is wrong with you?”
And I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Why do I shrug off a person that cuts me off in traffic, but lose my sh*t when my three-year-old pushes his brother? Why do I keep my cool when my colleague throws me under the bus, but scream in horror when my kids drop a glass of milk on the carpet, pull poop out of their diapers, or throw Christmas ornaments at each other like it’s a snowball fight?
My husband and I have been attending a parenting class for several weeks now. It’s confusing, overwhelming, and a bit mystifying. I mean, why isn’t parenting more intuitive? It seems like my gut reaction is almost always wrong. Not to get all philosophical, but in a world where “fight or flight” has largely preserved the human race, in parenting two out of three times it’s the worst thing you can do.
Son spills milk all over the floor. Fight or flight? WRONG
Child screams bloody murder over a broken toy. Fight or flight? NOPE
The kids start trying to stick toothpicks in the electrical outlet. Fight or flight? YES, GO GO GO!
And yet, in all these instances my intuition tells me to freak-the-eff-out. Lose all sensibility and just explode. In each situation, that is the wrong reaction. It doesn’t help solve the problem, it doesn’t help the kids grow. It accomplishes nothing. And yet I go there every. damn. time.
One thing I’ve learned about myself from these parenting classes is that I can’t just jump into the pool. I’ve got to dip my toe in first and slowly work my way down. So that means starting small. Like, baby-toe small.
Today, I will not raise my voice.
That’s it. That’s my goal. Don’t raise my voice… try to keep my cool. If I can make it all day, awesome! If not, try again tomorrow. Maybe it sounds stupid or ridiculously easy, but I don’t think so.
If all goes well, tomorrow I can build on it. Maybe I’ll work on “connection before correction,” something we worked on in class. Or maybe I’ll focus on encouragement over praise. But today, I’m tired. My house smells like soiled piss. Someone just cut me off on the road, and both of my kids sound like they’re getting colds. I’m just going to dip a toe in today.