Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Perfectly Ugly Storm.

We had a fun day today. Packing, playing, walking, pond exploration, bike riding, egg gathering, tea party-ing. All day. Until 5 pm. Then the perfect storm hit.

Outside, the wind picked up and dust was blowing everywhere. We had to come back in the house but Ainsley still had a ton of happy energy. So did the puppy. Teeth and skin collided, and a tired 2 1/2 year old burst into tears. To make things simpler, the puppy was sent onto the porch where he promptly decided to try and maul one of the kittens, sending Ainsley into a panicked, screaming tornado who couldn't hear her mother yelling at her to get out from between the puppy and the kitten. Her kitten was in danger and her mother was asking her to leave it to the puppy.

I was so scared that the puppy's heightened excitement would lead to Ains getting bitten and was trying desperately to detach myself from a clinging, crying one-year-old who I didn't want anywhere near that situation so that I could save the kitten - and I was tired, hungry, and frustrated with the ever-constant wind and that my daughter couldn't see that she should immediately obey me because mommy just knows best. I yelled. I yelled loud and I yelled mean - it can't even be written off as an 'I was so scared for you' yell - and I broke my little girl's heart. She doesn't cry often, but when she does, she means it. It's a whole body sob because she just has so much sorrow that her whole body shakes with it. Tired, over-excited, thirsty from our long walk, and scared of a puppy's teeth but willing to risk it for her kitten, and then mommy yells directly at her. This made a good day into a bad day for everyone involved.

When their daddy got home, he took them to the store so that their energy and my energy could disengage a bit and they could calm down. I'd not only terrified Ainsley, I'd scared Gray and Hannah. As they were leaving Hannah turned and said "I know you were cranky and mean, Mother, but I forgive you. Ainsley will too." Good lord.

Matt told me after the shopping trip that they worked it through with him, talking about it, and what they remembered was that "Mommy had a bad day. She got angry and it was a bad day." It was one hour. ONE HOUR in an otherwise beautiful day. But they remember it as the whole day.

And this is why four out of the twenty books I kept for our temporary moving bookshelf are parenting books.

I'm not one to post in detail about hard days, but this wasn't a hard day. This turned into a Bad Day. One of those days different from the times when patience is thin, tempers flare, and family members have to remind each other to 'be peace'. One of those days when you look in your child's tear-filled eyes and think "I suck." I've only had a day *this* bad one other time since I began parenting, but this time was worse. Then it only affected my one child but today it affected all three of my children. I do indeed suck, if only for tonight.

Everyone's asleep but me. Matt played with Ains while I cuddled Hannah to sleep and then he went to bed while I nursed Ains. She woke up as I laid her in bed, took my cheeks in her hands, kissed me, and then went unconscious again. I think Hannah was right and she forgave me. I hope that she has forgiven me. I'm sitting here going over what happened, what triggered that reaction in me, how to handle myself and the situation better next time and reassuring myself that I am not my mother. But it's cold comfort to say "At least I didn't hit her" when she remembers the violent voice and demeanor.

I'm reading portions of Raising our Children, Raising Ourselves. I'm crying over the damage I did to my child and the damage that was done to me as a child. And then I'm going to bed and we're going to wake up tomorrow and start over. I'm going to take what I learned today and that will make it less likely to have such harshness occur again. I'm going to forgive my parents a little bit more and I'm going to try to forgive myself.

Tomorrow it will be back to happier posting - maybe even the fun stuff we did today - but tonight this is my reality.


Sherry said...

Sarah, I feel your pain. This type of event has happened far more than I would like to admit around here.

Simpson Home said...

O sweet Sarah, my heart is tender with empathy for you. What mother doesn't turn into a dragon when her child is in danger- It's just hard when the child is little and so involved in the crisis that she/he can't hear your calm voice, so you get their attention any way you can and then feel awful about it after. It 's hard anytime, no matter what age the child is. Hugs all around and may the wind give you a reprieve for a little while.

Farmgirl_dk: said...

Oh Sarah. ((hug))
Please do not (I know you will though) chastise and beat yourself up over this any longer. The day is done. Regret saps strength and serves no purpose. Given the amount of chaos -and imminent danger- that was surrounding you and Ainsley at that moment, you reacted. Ok, so it clearly wasn't a way that you ever want to react, but having tried everything else, this is what came out when nothing else worked to remove her from harm. It was a reaction. When your resources were low. You've learned. Kids are resilient. The foundation of incredible love, attention and well-being that you have provided them is enormous and incredibly strong. This event didn't even chip a small bit out of what you and Matt have built with them. What can have a lingering memory for them, however, is how you react to it now. Forgive yourself, Sarah. It's ok. You are an incredible mama.

One quick story...
When Aidan was small, we'd be having normal, fun, kid days and then, at the drop of a hat, something would happen...he'd get reprimanded for something, or it was time to go to bed, or whatever...and he'd say to me, in the most heart-wrenching voice: "I'm having the worst LIFE ever!". Not "I'm having the worst DAY or WEEK or YEAR", no...it was the worst LIFE and somehow I was always to blame for it. We laugh a lot about it now, with Aidan being 17 and all, but at the time, it would just cut me to the quick.

Another ((hug))

James & Jessi McCalvy said...

It is very brave to share the roughest, scariest, most awful times. I hope you forgive you too and that storms are few and very far between.

Darcel said...

I'm sorry you had such a rough day. Better days are ahead.

Marcie said...

Children are so quick to forgive and forget! You are an amazing Mother, and the good thing about storms is they pass. The fact that you are being so hard on yourself is evidence in and of itself that you are definately NOT your parents, and that tiny moment in time is not who you are. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Farmgirl_dk: said...

Hi Sarah,
How are you doing today?
The sun is shining here - I hope it is where you are, too.

Sarah said...

Thank you everyone for your comments. I took the day 'off' of the computer yesterday and it was so nice to come back and read these. I appreciate all of them more than I can say.

Danni, the sun is shining, there is no wind, and I started the day checking out one of my favorite blogs and her Dotty chicken. Life is good.

Cindy said...

Sarah, if that event makes you a bad parent, then I think we all suck. I've done almost the exact same thing in a dangerous situation and made my child cry (and then come out of their room to tell me "I don't like it when you yell at me!") It makes me realize how little I do yell, so when I do, it really makes them listen at least! I'm glad you've had some time to let this heal.

sunnymama said...

That does sounds rough for you all. I understand completely your sadness at the end of that day and I've been there myself many times. I agree you should forgive yourself, as these times are also opportunities to learn and grow. I'm pleased that life is good now :)