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.