bad mommy moment


At 8:25, 9 minutes before the school bus comes to the end of our driveway:

Phoebe, you still need to brush your hair. Did you use the bathroom yet?

She said she hadn’t, but then instead of heading to use the bathroom, she came up close to me. She stood in front of me, looking up at me with her giant blue eyes wide, arms stretched down and slightly behind her in some sort of gesture I couldn’t interpret.

What is it Phoebe?

She silently continued the wide stare and the apparent gesture.

I don’t know what you’re doing, Phoebe. Use words.

She followed me around, doing the same thing.

Phoebe, I have no idea what you are doing. Tell me what’s going on. You need to brush your hair and use the bathroom.

This went on and on while the minutes ticked away.

We need to hurry, the bus is coming in just a couple minutes.

Still no progress.

This is infuriating. That means you are making me really, really mad.

She still wouldn’t talk.

If you do something and it doesn’t work, and you try it again the same way and it still doesn’t work, it doesn’t help to keep doing the same thing over and over and over.

She still did the same thing.

I cracked.

If we miss the bus because of this, you have no idea how angry I’ll be!

I yelled.

I need you to talk!

I hurriedly tried to find the hairbrush that we keep downstairs. I threw some coats out of the way. I threw aside other coats that weren’t even in the way. I yelled some more.

I was the scary mommy.

In the end, Phoebe used the bathroom and I brushed her hair. She was in tears and I was livid. We ran out the door as the bus passed into view. We ran up the driveway, me carrying her backpack.

I hugged her and told her I loved her before she climbed onto the bus. I asked if she could quickly tell me what was going on. I got nothing. She climbed on to the bus, tears still on her cheeks. And I went back inside, still baffled and angry.

I found the whole thing to be deeply unsettling. That I could miss what she was getting at, perhaps trying to remind me of something. That she would continue so stubbornly to do something when I asked her to stop. And that she managed to make me so very mad by doing so little.

Not the best start to the day.

14 responses to “bad mommy moment

  1. That happens with me and my daughter a lot. Often she will act like an animal — I mean, like a kitty or a dragon or something — and I have to guess what she’s trying to convey. It’s infuriating when I don’t have the time to play this game, just like you describe… My son has communicated primarily non-verbally most of his life, but he is super clear; if he wants me to know what he’s “saying,” then I do! No guessing games with that one.

  2. I wonder what she was saying to you. I can only imagine how frustrating it was for you to not know. Maybe she’ll tell you tonight– or be on to something completely different by then. Kids are a mysterious lot, aren’t they?

  3. I’m guessing sick kid. Or rather, coming down with something. But I really don’t see anything wrong with your reaction. She acted in a way that one would expect to provoke anger, and anger happened. The Way The World Works was confirmed.

  4. Yup, my kids have done things like that. It’s like they expect you to just be able to guess what’s going on in their heads.

  5. i don’t think you’ve permanently damaged her. you yelled. you calmed down, you told her you loved her, you sent her off to school.

    you’re not a bad mommy.

  6. Parents cannot be expected to never lose their tempers with their kids. The important thing is that you told her you loved her before she left for school. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.

  7. Lordy this sounds like a totally typical day in my house! I wouldn’t worry!

  8. Don’t be so hard on yourself. We all have scary mommy moments, I’m sure. Hopefully you’ve had a chance to reconnect with one another and share a nice hug!

  9. poor chicken. how was she at day’s end?

  10. Pingback: Stick a fork in me, I’m done. | collecting tokens

  11. Awww…I feel for you. I can’t tell you how many mornings I’ve lost it on one or both kids and beat myself up over it all day long. What’s really helped us is my 5 year old has a chart with 5 things he has to do -dressed, teeth, shoes on, make bed, and pick up his room. We set a timer, but he’s never even come close to using the whole 20 minutes. It’s made the mornings much better!

  12. I’m so sorry that happened. She was probably tired. Sometimes parenting is crazy hard.

  13. Is it weird to say that this might be my favorite post of yours? It’s good to get confirmation that I’m not the only parent who loses her shit with her kids. (I know I’m not even without this post, but still.)

    I understand why it would be unsettling. This parenting stuff is hard.

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