Smelly mom loses cool

A few weeks ago I staggered home from work, hot, bothered and confused. I had to get dinner in the oven, children in the homework groove, and myself out the door to a meeting. As my charming 14-year-old shoved past me in what passes for our kitchen he said, “Yuck, Mom, you smell!”

Did I stop to have a sensible conversation with him about thinking before opening one’s big trap? Did I, hell? I shoved past the monster and rushed up the passage, slammed the door behind me and threw myself on the bed and punched the pillow.

Three smallish faces peeped through the recently abused door, but retreated in haste when I told them what I thought of them all. Unfair really, one kid pushes you over the edge and the rest of them find themselves sitting on the edge of the precipice looking down.

As I sat there feeling sorry that I had flipped, I came to the crushing, and ultimately stupid, conclusion that I was not fit to be a parent. That I wasn’t grown-up enough and that the children should basically be put back where they came from, but I doubt that is a feat even my gynae would be able to pull off.

When mom loses it, she really loses it

I’d love to say that this is the only time that I have lost my cool, but it isn’t. There was the still spoken about in hushed tones incident where my son’s innocent request for money for a haircut (which I didn’t have at the time) sent me into rant that contained such gems as: “I wish I had died instead of your father”, “You’d be better off if I died”, “I hate schools with stupid rules about hair”, “I am too tired to carry on being your mother”. All very bad things to tell children who have lost their father and who know you are their rock in life.

I could have stopped it then, but I was so over the edge that I dragged the children into their respective schools where I proceeded to weep and wail, to tell everyone that I couldn’t cope. To refuse offers of coffee, and the offer of some homeopathic green slime to rub on my wrists because I had my favourite perfume on.

The point is I lost it. I made my children cry. I cried all day at work, and believe me I don’t do tears that often. I phoned my mother and told her I had ruined the children. She was firm and focused, “No, you haven’t,” she said, “they know how much you love them, you are an amazing mother, I was the awful mom, I shouted at you all the time.” Really Mom, I thought, I don’t remember that.

I went home to have a big chat and sort out with the kids to find that they were not that fazed. “Just get a grip,” they said, “and please don’t make a scene at school again.”

Oddly enough at a sport event that weekend I bumped into another mom who had witnessed my meltdown, “Good grief,” she said, “was it something in the air that day? I had just screamed at my son and wept all over his teacher.”

Is it a good thing to lose it in front of your kids? Probably not, and I wish more than anything that I could take back some of the cruel things I said. Because as with all things said in anger, most of them were not true.

But, what is true is that we all get stressed: single parents, two-parented families, child-headed families. We worry about money, when we should worry about love. We fear the future and we allow that fear to filter into our daily lives. We have reason to fail because we are human.

And perhaps, just maybe, sometimes it does our children good to see that parenting is painful at times and that we don’t always have all the answers. It might drive them into therapy, or if we follow up our fallouts with explanations and the daily evidence of our love and care for our kids they might just realise that sometimes it is fine not to be superhuman.

Have you ever said something to your children you later regretted? Is it okay for kids to see parents lose it?

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