Because Sometimes I Hide in the Bathroom

20 07 2011

I believe certain women are born nurturers—something within them is programmed to mother every child who enters their home. These are the women whose homes become the neighborhood hub; children and teenagers enter and exit in a never-ending stream. Snacks are distributed. Commercials are filmed.

Or something.

I am not one of these women. I never particularly enjoyed babysitting or holding babies, and as I matured I wasn’t even sure I wanted to have children of my own.

Please don’t interpret this as me saying I’m a craptastic mother. In my moments of stunning clarity, I can tell you I’m a great mom. Not only are my children fed and clothed, but (far more importantly) they know they are loved. They’re disobedient and I get angry at them and they get angry at me and still they know that mom loves them. I believe that’s knowledge which will stay with them and serve them well in life.

This is, rather, a post about my inevitable craptastic mom moments—every woman has them—and how they undermine my confidence in my mothering skills when I already feel like I started at a disadvantage.

Can you tell it was a rough day in the Smith home?

The boys and I were playing a game on the computer, and they started wrestling. I asked them to stop, but really, who listens to mom? Mom is a killjoy. Mom’s sole purpose is to suck the joy out of the lives of small children everywhere. So I very calmly (because I’m mature and stuff) closed the laptop and put it away.

I had no idea this would magically morph me into one of the horsemen of the apocalypse, but apparently that’s what happened, judging from the Level V Meltdown Big G launched into. He screamed, he cried, he thrashed and flailed. “I wanted to play games!” And then he hit me.

It was an accident, so I let it go with a warning. “Hit me again and you’ll go to your room.” He turned his tear-stained face to me and wailed, “I want to play gaaaames!

“I know, but you’ve lost that privilege. I’m sorry.”

“Arrrrrrrrrrrrgh!” He reached out and whacked me.

I picked him up and hauled him back to his room, but here’s the problem with kids: they don’t do what you tell them to do. Like, ever. And I’d just had it. My fists were clenched and I’d hit that moment where I realize that even though I’ll never do it, I kind of get how people lose their tempers and hit their kids.

I hate that moment. If you have kids and haven’t had that moment thus far, kudos to you.

“You have two choices: you can stay in your room for some time away from mom, or you can go in the living room and watch TV and mom will spend time in her room away from you. I don’t care what you pick. It just needs to be away from mom.”

“But mom, I just want to be with you!”

“You keep hitting me. I don’t like that and I don’t want to be with you right now.

So I tried hiding under my covers and pretending I didn’t have children. Shut up. I didn’t say it was my best idea or my finest moment. Oddly enough, it didn’t work, and when everything was said and done, you can probably guess from the title of this post how all of this ended.

That’s right. I went in the bathroom, turned on the fan, and locked the door. I felt like a failure—not just as a mother, either. I’d pretty much failed as a human being.

I’d like to tell you there was a great resolution to all of this, but life is never that simple. When I finally emerged from the bathroom there was more yelling, and by the time Car got home I handed the boys to him and finally got my chance to hide under the covers.

But here’s the awesome thing about raising kids who know they’re loved: at the end of the day, Big G gave me a big hug and a kiss. He told me he loved me. All the ugliness from earlier today vanished from his memory, and he felt secure in the knowledge that mom loves him no matter what.

Sometimes I hide in the bathroom, but really? I’m a pretty fantastic mother.

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9 responses

28 07 2011
LaurieBee

I was in the park one day with my kids, and a television reporter was randomly interviewing people about child abuse. He was taken back by my comment: There’s a fine line between parenthood and abuse. I still believe that. We all have those clenched fist moments. It’s what you do with that fist that counts. You’re a good mom. Great post!

21 07 2011
Lindsay

This sounds EXACTLY like my day yesterday, word for word!!!!

21 07 2011
katrina

I hide in my closet, it’s bigger than my bathroom and I don’t start thinking I really need to clean these floors.

20 07 2011
Mimi

Since I’ve stopped taking my Celexa (not the best idea, I know, but I’m afraid of getting pregnant while on it), I’ve been having a hard time emotionally. I often feel the need for a Mommy Time Out, especially because Colin LOVES to hit, and hard! I feel good that I am able to not beat my kid and you should too. People like us need to feel thankful for the REALLLLY small things every day… even if they seem lame. I’m proud of you!

20 07 2011
Elizabeth

Quit beating yourself up for being normal! Haven’t you noticed my retreats to other parts of the house? Even in NYC when we lived in a one bedroom, I’d retreat to the bathroom, and my kids weren’t hitting me. Being a MOM means you’re everything–even a doormat at times. Bathrooms, or wherever you can escape, are a prerequisite for sanity. And yes, you are a fantastic mom: you didn’t punch them out!

20 07 2011
Brett Nordquist

That’s the best post I’ve read in a long time. I’ve been whacked a few times and it’s difficult to keep that clenched fist down. Reading honest posts like this gives me hope that blogging isn’t going away. It’s not easy to find them anymore, but this hit a nerve. Keeping writing. You’re a good mom and writer.

20 07 2011
Michelle

I was just reading some notable quotables from years gone by, and laughed as I remembered my kiddos telling me times when “you are in the moon, Mommy” (we’d had the three degrees of glory diagram on the wall and I was using it to talk about *their* behaviors. Ha.

All I can say is that the Atonement is for parents in a big way. When I think of the progress that has come in my mothering since embarking on this adventure 13 years ago, I’m blown away by how the Lord has helped me develop more of a momma heart.

I really believe that it’s a process for most women. I do believe in the idea of nurturing, but I think it’s like any other spiritual gift — we have to work and pray for it. Most people aren’t born with all that it takes to live up to their potentials and gifts. We have to work and let grace work on us.

20 07 2011
Carina

Oh, I’ve been known to go to a mommy time out. That’s what I call it in my house. Mommy Time Out.

20 07 2011
Travis B. Hartwell

You may not realize it, but this is a beautiful story. I was talking to really good friend about this very thing this weekend. His 2 year-old was trying to argue with him because he wouldn’t get him another toy or piece of candy or something out of those quarter machines. Not yet being a father myself, I asked him how you don’t just get frustrated and yell — and the kid was being realitively good.

But I think I consder this beautiful in the same way my conversation with my friend touched me. It is real. This is the life of a real parent that loves their children and wants what is best for them. My friend didn’t come from necessarily the happiest of homes, his parents divorced when he was young. But somehow he has learned to be a good Dad, be patient most of the time, but also have some days that he hides in the bathroom. Well, maybe not that, but I’m sure he has to go for a drive or do something.

Your story also shows a real person who is trying. It gives me hope, because , frankly I’ve been I’ve been scared to death to be a Dad because I don’t want to be a bad Dad. I’m so afraid of it, that before our divorce, my wife started to think I didn’t want children because I ran from pursuing adoption and other things so we could have children. Yet, seeing my friend with his sons, or my brother with his two kids, I realize that it is something I want more than anything.

Thanks for giving me hope with your reality.

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