I totally lost it on my 5 year old son. When I say lost it, I mean, lost it.
Last week, after a long day of non-stop activities with the kids, I was exhausted when I announced that I would be heating up left-overs for dinner. Mind you, these were left-overs of the dinner that both of my children loved and raved about the night before. I expected to be met with cheers and excitement. Instead, I was served a royal fit from my 5 year old. He demanded a ham and cheese sandwich, with garlic bread. After standing my ground that I would not be serving garlic bread (which we had with our Italian meal the night before), we settled on a simple ham and cheese sandwich for dinner. Whatever, mama is pregnant and tired.
I proceeded to list out the options for cheese and condiments. I even let him taste a special mustard that my husband loves to see if he liked it. He loved it, or so he said. I served up the ham and cheese sandwiches, and let out a sigh of relief that at least they would eat something, and it was their bedtime soon.
Two bites in, my sweet 5 year old announced his hatred of the mustard on his sandwich and demanded me to “make him another sandwich, now“. Picture my face, moms. I just entered my third trimester of pregnancy, I’m recovering from emergency surgery 2 weeks ago, my husband was going to be home late, and I had to go to Wal-Mart of all places that day. Picture my face.
I explained, as calmly as I could muster, that I didn’t have any more buns to make him a new sandwich, that he asked for the mustard and now he just needed to be quiet and eat his dinner. He responded with flat out refusal, and another demand for a new sandwich.
At that point, I would like to say that demons possessed my body and forced me to do what I did, but honestly, it was just me. As ashamed as I am to admit it, I totally lost it. I would tell you I walked, possibly marched, over to the table. However, I’m pretty sure I teleported. I grabbed his plate, and when I thought I was going to take it into the kitchen and slam it onto the counter (ya know, just to let him know I was seriously upset), I somehow slammed it onto the tile floor instead. Yeah, not sure how that happened. I would tell you what I said in that moment while breaking plates, except I don’t remember. I was in a fit of rage. Over a ham sandwich.
My son immediately burst into tears. I immediately burst into tears. I ran to my bedroom, then I ran straight back and started picking up my mess in a panic. I quietly got some other bread, made him a new sandwich, set it at the table, and softly but sternly asked him to eat his dinner. He did, of course, he was terrified for his life I’m sure. I proceeded to ugly cry over the kitchen sink while doing dishes instead of eating my own dinner. Yeah, proud moment.
While I was wallowing in guilt and shame, I thought back to the time my mom threw what I believe was a pork chop at my older sister. I remember thinking my mom was a total crazy person, so mean. And now, here I was, a mean crazy person. What I don’t remember during that time, or any other time that my mom lost it on us as kids, was talking about it. We just kept quiet, she kept quiet, and we all waited for it to go away.
I would love to be a perfect mom. I would love to always have patience, no matter how I am tested or how exhausted I am. I would love to handle every situation that motherhood presents me with grace, love, understanding, and a quiet, calm voice. Yet here I am, a human. I am a mom, but first I’m just a human.
Humans make mistakes, they lose their temper, they handle situations the wrong way. That doesn’t change when we become parents. We only have more opportunities to mess up.
As I thought about what I could do to make the situation with my son better, I realized the answer was just to talk to him. Talk to him like a real human being to a real human being. I can’t take back what happened, but I can teach him that you’re born a human, and you stay that way, imperfect, for your entire life. You make mistakes and that never ends as you get older. What you can do though, is learn from them and try to make them right.
So I sat down with my 5-year old and I apologized. I explained the things I should not have done, and how I could have handled the situation better. I also explained the things he should not have done, and how he could have handled it better as well. I told him that adults make mistakes too, and just because we’re older doesn’t mean we never mess up or always have all the right answers. He apologized too, we hugged, okay we both cried some more, and we had a nice evening before he went to bed.
Here’s the thing… I can guarantee that will not be the last mistake I make as a mom. I mean, I’m about to become a mom of 3 so I’m 100% sure I am going to mess up tons of times. I am sharing this because I bet you have too, and will continue to. You are not the only one, mama friend. You are not a terrible mom because you sometimes crack under all of the pressure. You are just a human, just like me and all the other moms out there.
Take those moments that you feel you’ve failed in, and use them as a learning opportunity for your child, and yourself. Teach them that no one is perfect, and what to do when you’ve made a mistake. Talk to them like a real human being, because they are a real human being, no matter how little they are. Be open about your feelings, teaching them to be open about theirs too. Show them that a momentary breakdown and mistake doesn’t define who they are, but how they handle it afterwards will.
Lastly, let’s not tear ourselves apart, mamas. We have the toughest job in the world, raising human beings. It’s only right that we have real, imperfect human moments to teach them what life is really all about – love, grace, forgiveness, laughter, and doing our best every day with every situation.
If you have a story about motherhood you would like to share, I would love to hear it, and maybe even share it here! Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hi, I’m Jessica! I am wife to Chris, and mom to Kaiper, Alana and our silver lab pup, Maui. We are expecting baby #3 right now, and excited to become a family of 5! I am a freelance website & blog developer, Co-Founder of Moxie Girl Fit Club, and aspiring author. I share about everything from parenting, how to make money from home, tutorials for my fellow bloggers, fitness and being a new homeschool family. Learn more about me here.