In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I have never eaten chocolate in the bathroom after yelling at the kids. I have standards and common decency. I will not eat the delicacy which is chocolate in the same place that rear-ends are wiped.
I eat my chocolate in the closet.
Let’s be honest. If you’re going to eat chocolate, you need a place where you will not be interrupted by tiny people asking questions that could easily wait 5 minutes. The bathroom is not this place. The closet is — or even better, the laundry room. Because we all know that children will not enter a room where they anticipate being asked to do a chore. So, I choose to have my mommy moments on the floor of my closet, next to the laundry basket.
I would like to tell you that I have only hidden in the closet after yelling at my kids one time, but that would also not be full disclosure. I don’t know how many times this scenario has played out, but I do know that it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Well, chocolate is bad for you. And yelling at the kids is bad for the kids and you. But, the hiding in the closet part is actually a good thing. It’s like a mommy time-out. It’s a moment to calm down and reevaluate the situation. And the chocolate? Well, that’s just because I have an addiction to all things chocolate (Except the dark kind. That’s gross).
There are days when everyone has hit their limit of politeness, agreeability, and general decency to other human beings. There are days when my children would rather throw a temper-tantrum than put on pants. There are days when everything starts to unravel, and I have lost all control before 9:30 am.
On these days I do things I did not plan to do. I yell. I yell while I’m thinking in my head “Don’t yell. Calm down. Set an example.” But, I still yell. This is when I have a choice. I can continue with the tirade and feel justified in my anger, or I can take a mommy time-out.
The last time this scenario played out was because of cherry Kool-aid…my nemesis. The day was working out to plan. The house was all clean for the 12 children and their parents to arrive at our book club. My youngest, 8-year-old A-, had just finished making an entire pitcher of cherry Kool-Aid. She was very sweetly putting it in the refrigerator when she was distracted and the pitcher hit the floor. The bottom smashed open and bright red sticky liquid flew all over the kitchen. Up the cabinets. Across the floor. Along the side of the trash can and down the refrigerator.
It. Was. Everywhere.
I honestly was at a loss on how to clean it all up. After the initial shock, I began to yell. When the mop only made the situation worse, I yelled some more. When the paper towels didn’t make a dent in the flood of Kool-Aid, I yelled again. When I was scrubbing the floor with towels and wet rags, the rant continued. Finally, the mess was cleaned and I looked around. This small person looked at me with swollen red eyes and said: “I’m sorry, Momma.”
What had I done?
Did I really just act like an ogre and yell at an 8-year-old for spilling Kool-Aid? Did I really just put my need to impress people with my clean house before my daughter’s emotional well-being? How did I let this happen? And, how on earth was I going to mend my daughter’s broken heart?
I couldn’t think straight. I looked at my children (yes, by this time I had yelled at all 3 of the children) and told them I needed a moment.
I left the room.
I went to my closet and sat down and had a good cry. I was ashamed. I had crushed my daughter with words that I couldn’t erase. There was no way to make this better. I couldn’t take back the last ten minutes. I couldn’t swallow back the ugliness. I had to own it. I had to admit that I had put silly expectations of perfection on, not only myself, but now my children.
My priorities had gotten screwed up.
And I realized that I needed to reevaluate what was most important to me. I needed to set my priorities straight and then I needed to start mending fences. I started by silently praying for strength. It’s not easy to tell someone you are sorry. It’s especially not easy when you know how bad you hurt that person. It’s the hardest when that person is someone who looks up to you and loves you. And, I realized that I needed more strength than I had at that moment. So I prayed. And, then I stood up, wiped the tears and chocolate away and walked out of the closet back into the world of mom.
I sat down with that cherub faced baby girl, and I explained to her that I was wrong. I was terribly sorry for the way I acted, and I asked her if she would forgive me. And you know what she said? “It’s okay, Mommy.”
But, it wasn’t okay.
It wasn’t okay that I had crushed her happiness. It wasn’t okay that I had made her question her self-worth. It wasn’t okay that I had made her fear her own mother. And, I told her just that. I told her that I couldn’t promise that I wouldn’t make mistakes. But, I could promise that when I did, I would always try to tell her I was sorry and make it right.
On this day I went to the closet and ate chocolate after I yelled at the kids, but it wasn’t soon enough. I should have sensed the frustration building, and I should have taken that mommy moment earlier. If I had given myself a time-out just 10 minutes earlier, I would have saved my daughter from having her heart crushed.
Some days I rock this mom gig. And some days, I don’t come close. But, each day I keep trying and with a little prayer and a lot of chocolate I might just make it.
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