I'm going to write about this because it's bothering me, and because I want to record that it's bothering me. I'm turning off comments; feel free to judge me, but please don't let me know you're judging me. I'm also really not looking for support; I think telling me "it's OK, you're not a bad parent" would almost be worse than telling me how awful I am. So for now, please don't e-mail me about this or comment on other posts because comments are closed on this one. I thank you in advance for your reserve.
Those who know me well know that I'm... well, if not easily frustrated, then at least more likely to blow my top completely when I *do* get frustrated. I have been known to start screaming and throwing every single thing out of the closet when I can't take it anymore, when the toilet paper isn't on top where I can get at it, and the Swiffer has fallen on my head when I tried to dig through the mass of pillows and diapers and Kleenex boxes to get to the damn toilet paper. I have hurled even the heavy freestanding toilet paper holder across the room in anger.
It is probably not that surprising to learn, then, that when The Beaner frustrates me—when I'm trying to get him in the stroller and he stiffens and fights me, for example, or when he flails his arms and refuses to put on his coat even though it's 30 degrees out—I shout. I yell things like, "YOUHAVETOPUTONYOURCOATIT'SFREEZINGOUTFORFUCK'SSAKE!" Yep, I not only yell, I often swear. Al doesn't do this, by the way, and he hates it when I do it, and yet I haven't been able to GET A GRIP and stay calm for more than two or three attempts at getting him into the stroller or fighting his arms into his coat.
Some days I can last longer than others; some days I keep my cool for five or ten minutes or more, but I find that eventually I get so frustrated that I either yell or cry. (In The Beaner's twelfth month of life, I cried a lot more than I yelled; I think now I'm less willing to get to the point where I'm crying out of frustration. I just want to yell and release the tension sooner rather than later.)
This morning I yelled at The Beaner when he wouldn't put on his coat. It was cold and windy (I was wearing my winter coat, a scarf, and gloves), and he fought us when we tried to shrug him into his orange fleece jacket. (We still don't have a proper winter coat for him yet.) He wouldn't wear his hat. He screamed and cried and said, "no hood!" when I tried to put his hood up. And I yelled. He finally stopped crying and went very still. I tried to talk to him, but he wouldn't answer me. It was the first time I was ever sure that he was pouting, that he was mad enough or hurt enough to give me the silent treatment. I finally got him to smile a bit after a few blocks, and by the time we got to M's house he had resumed eating his muffin, but I could tell he was still a little stung.
M's mom Tracey was still home when we arrived, and while I was getting The Beaner settled and Tracey was saying goodbye to M, Tracey reached for her coat. "PUT JACKET ON!" The Beaner screamed at her... and then he went back to coloring. My heart stopped for a second. M shrieked and started to cry, and Tracey tried to comfort her. Jess and Tracey both tried to convince M that it was OK that The Beaner was using her crayons, and that they could both color at the same time. No one but me, apparently, had understood what The Beaner had said. Tracey and Jess assumed The Beaner was yelling at M about coloring.
Jess said, "I think it's a power thing. [The Beaner] sometimes yells at M to intimidate her." I was horrified. This wasn't the first time The Beaner had yelled. The Beaner was yelling to intimidate and show who's boss. In other words, The Beaner was emulating me. My heart hurt. I felt a little light-headed. *I* had done this. My inability to control my frustration, my temper, was rubbing off on my child. I was teaching him that the one who shouts loudest wins. I think I knew that eventually the yelling would have some consequences, but I guess I figured I had time to sort it out—like I still think that I'll eventually stop swearing, once he starts repeating the cuss words. I shouldn't have let it come to this. I should have tried to get a grip earlier.
And, to be fair, I *have* been trying. I *am* getting more patient. I'm just not getting better at it fast enough. I don't think it's too late to turn it around, to explain to The Beaner that mommy was wrong to yell, that yelling isn't the way to solve problems. That I'm willing to listen to reason if he can explain why he doesn't want to do something, but that sometimes Because I Said So will have to be the final answer. I just won't yell it anymore. I will say This Is The Way It's Going to Be Right Now in a normal voice, and that even if he doesn't agree and yells and cries and stiffens and fights me, I will maintain my cool because I am an adult, because I want to set a good example of self-control, because I love and care about him very much. And because I don't want him becoming everything I hate about myself.