When I went to pour out the pool after her swim, it was a lot heavier than I remembered…

I lost my temper with R on Saturday. I mean, over-the-top, out-of-control crazy, scene-stealing anger. While it was going on, it was like I was watching myself, tossing back some popcorn and thinking how entertaining this would be if it weren’t actually me all screaming and red-faced.

I’ve found myself justifying my anger since then. But it’s not like R did anything so terrible to warrant the first Mommy Meltdown of her life. She was sassy and whiny and defiant, refusing to get into her carseat to go to Target. On the way to the car, she had spied the kiddie pool I had filled in the backyard while she napped. She decided she would much rather go swimming than shopping. And she told me so, physically and verbally.  After ten minutes of arguing with her, I pulled her out of the car and told her fine, we weren’t going shopping (even though I needed to go to buy things for breakfast for my in-laws). But she also wasn’t going swimming.

The tantrum continued, this time with tears and flailing about. That only revved my RPMs even higher. I picked her up, carried in her into the backyard and made her watch while I adopted superhuman strength and in mere moments emptied her pool into the lawn and shoved it back into the shed. Then I put her inside on the naughty step and flopped on the couch for a little timeout of my own.

The crazy thing? It worked. After a few minutes, she stopped the godawful tantrum. A few minutes more passed, and I went to sit next to her. She looked up at me with her big blue eyes and tear-stained face and said, “Mommy, let’s go shopping, then swimming. I’ll be good.”

I told her that sounded great. She watched as I filled the pool back up so the water could warm while we were at the store. And all was right with the world. I keep telling myself that even though sometimes it hurts or is difficult to discipline her or make her do things she doesn’t want to do, in the long run, it will be better for everybody. She’ll be better behaved (for me), and she’ll learn that life doesn’t always go her way (for her).

But I can’t say that I didn’t feel just a teensy-weensy bit of satisfaction dumping that pool water onto the grass. It felt good to be two years old again and expressing my anger in such dramatic fashion. Most of the time, I fight my anger or suppress it or feel like I have no right to it. But the glimpse of her face as I marched back from the shed, heartbroken and crushed, really took the wind out of my sails. I almost relented right there. But the timeout was necessary. And out of it, we both got what we wanted.

And she still loves me. And I still love her.

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8 Responses to When I went to pour out the pool after her swim, it was a lot heavier than I remembered…

  1. Oh honey. How did you get so stretched? I am sorry you had that experience. How awful.

    And… I hate to say this, but anger and violence always work. That’s why people beat their kids. It works. Until the kid gets so used to the violence that they don’t give a shit. And it’s true, frightened kids behave out of terror. I’m sorry to say this – it hurts me but you need to know this before you settle on anger as a mode of operation.

    The question is who do you want to be? What Mommy do you want to be?

    Then how do you support yourself so that you can be that person?

  2. Marlee says:

    Once again, this mommy gig is a hard thing. Good for you for sticking to your guns. It happens to all of us and sometimes it is was both mommy and child need.


  3. Colleen says:

    Hell, we all have our days. It’s really not the worst thing in the world for our kids to learn that not only can our actions cause them to be upset and throw tantrums, their actions can also set other people off to. It can be good for them to see that being on the other end of one of those tantrums NOT pleasant. Plus, she didn’t get what she wanted b/c of the tantrum and she learned that neither did you!

    Some days they really know how to press your buttons don’t they!

  4. Jenna says:

    Sometimes I would like to videotape myself when I reach the boiling point of having a tantrum myself over my child having a tantrum. I would really like to see if I just look hot-faced and if it might even be a bit funny. I hate getting to that point, though, but I would definitely like to see it. I think you handled it well. And, you really have a grip on the discipline…The response R gave you had to have felt so good. Keep it up!

  5. Mandy says:

    Oh Michelle. All I can say is been there, done that. So many times. Good for you for sticking to your guns. I don’t think you did anything to feel guilty about. You didn’t hurt her. You just took a reward away. I think what you did was fine. I love this post. It’s just relatable. Glad to see it all worked out in the end. 🙂

  6. Victoria says:

    I think you did what you needed to do. Parental tantrums aren’t really a bad thing unless they happen frequently and cause you to act violently on your child. Honestly, I think R needed to see exactly what she looks like when she throws her temper tantrums. You stuck with her discipline–letting her see you dump out the water and put the pool away–and you took the time you needed to cool yourself off too.
    I hope you ended up with a good day. I think you’re doing a great job with R (just from what I get to see here) and I hope she keeps on growing up into the wonderful young lady that I think she’s going to be.

  7. Yeah, I *might* have had a few of my own tantrums, too. I love how you said you watch yourself and think that it could be entertaining if it wasn’t YOU. I get that!

    Glad it all worked out in the end. Sometimes these kids surprise us, don’t they?!

  8. Hi… just stumbling by… I definitely have moments like that and always feel so awful afterwards. That being said — I agree with what you did and would have done the same thing!

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