Confessions of a struggling mother

On Monday, I turned into That Woman. You know, the one you see (and hear) yelling at her child in the middle of the high street. B was playing with her “sticks” (some coffee stirrers), drumming on the pavement, and didn’t want to follow me to the bank machine, which I had to go to because I had no money on me for the bus ticket I thought I’d lost (it was in my pocket). Because I ‘made’ her come into the bank she then threw her sticks to the ground in protest, then threw my work lanyard (which she has taken to wearing) to the ground also, and said “mummy pick up [the sticks]”. I didn’t want to pick up the sticks and said so and asked B to pick them up instead, to which she refused. There was a stand off, which would have been a lot better had it been a silent stand off, but sadly it wasn’t – I made most of the noise, getting increasingly louder and ending up (if only this had been the end of it) shouting at B to “pick them up NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” (the number of exclamation marks increases with the loudness of the shouting). In the bank. It was not a good moment. Of course B didn’t pick them up (why would she?) so I picked them up and said I would throw them away (I didn’t – no follow through=bad parenting), to which B cried most noisily and sadly and still refused to follow me (again, why would she?- No one in their right mind would have followed this crazy shouting woman) so, having totally lost the plot by this point, I bent down and shouted “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” right in her poor, sad, face. I had become That Woman.

I then picked her up and put her in the pushchair and haired off, B wailing piteously, to the bus station, but we had missed the bus by this point so I went to buy some fruit (attempting to be a better parent by feeding her healthy food?) in Sainsbury’s but we kept getting in everyone’s way with the pushchair and that was the last straw. I broke down and sobbed next to the cucumbers. B (who had previously calmed down) joined me. Eventually I pulled myself together because I had regained enough sanity to see that my crying was making B cry, and managed to buy the fruit and get to the bus stop. The bus came and we went home. B was asleep by the time we got in the door.

I lay awake that night and cried a bit more.

This incident made me think more about That Woman. My only defence for my behaviour was that I was tired to the point of exhaustion, Mr C had been away so I’d been looking after B on my own more than usual, and I hadn’t had any lunch. If there is anything positive to be gleaned from this sorry tale it is that it has made me more empathetic with those women like me who shout at their children in the streets. I have a helpful husband, enough to eat and a steady income and I still get overcome with anger and emotion when things get too much. There isn’t an excuse for shouting, but it is easier than you might think to get into that state.

I researched ‘shouting and toddlers’ (as I do, the librarian in me can’t help herself) and found some useful links:

How to handle your anger at your child

Discipline and cooperation

Toddlers: your game plan for the terrific twos

I have to admit, reading some of this made me feel worse before it made me feel better, but that’s OK. I know I need to find a way to deal with my anger – it has always been a problem. The irony is, my dad was/sometime still is very shouty and I hated it. I can’t cope with people shouting at me – I just cry, even now – and I really, really, didn’t want to be like that with B. Must try harder. I’ll let you know how it goes…

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Author: Lilian

Librarian who likes music, cataloguing, theology, gardening, crochet, ampersands, taking photos, baking & tea. Has CHD & pacemaker.

1 thought on “Confessions of a struggling mother”

  1. It sounds like she has definitely reached the ‘terrible twos’! My daughter said her son (who is the same age as Babymouse) had a massive temper tantrum at the weekend. They had visitors staying with two small children and one of the children was inclined to take toys out of his hand which he was understandably not happy about 🙂

    It’s a really difficult stage, as they are trying to assert their independence and gain some power and control over their environment. And they don’t have the capacity to fully understand when you try to reason with them, even if it seems like they do understand.

    Also they are very frustrated because they have not learnt the language fluently – they want to communicate but can’t. To top it off they are still getting teeth coming through which is painful. So they can get very angry and completely unreasonable, which is very hard work for you. It is not surprising that you have to let off steam occasionally!

    I was once at a supermarket when a man started having what I would describe as an ‘adult temper tantrum’ by the tills. Everyone looked round. Then it became clear what was going on. His child had been having a temper tantrum and he was trying to shock him out of it 🙂

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