that night mom went berserk over spilled coffee

i have this resolution that i should have started a long time ago, that i forgot to include in my list of resolutions, because it's more of a i-need-to-get-this-done-no-matter-what-month-it-is resolution, rather than a new year's resolution.

it involves my tongue. i swear my tongue is my greatest fault, my greatest sin, my greatest character flaw, whatever you want to call it. maybe not to strangers, oh sure, we always treat people we don't know the kindest, but with my family i can be as wild and unbridled as anything. i have the worst patience you can imagine, and i say things i don't mean. i also yell. i'm a yeller. john's very calm and patient in arguments, and i'm mean and i yell. plus, i not only yell, but i complain. about everything. sometimes i can't even stand to be around me, i complain so much. so my resolution is to watch my tongue. no saying mean things, no yelling, no complaining.

i never wanted to be a yelling mom, but i am ashamed to say i've failed time and time again, especially lately now that my sweet, innocent baby has turned into an energetic, mischievous toddler. river has surprised other moms, even those with multiple children, with his ability to scope out a no-no and get into every little thing in reach. "oh, he really does get into everything." yes, he does. and he is an excellent climber, which takes his destroy-power to another level. literally.

so, this morning i woke up in a horrible mood. i've had a lot of problems with my eyes the past few years and this morning i woke up with a red, swollen, gunky left eyeball, with no other symptoms, and for apparently, no reason that i am aware of. so i was in a bad mood pretty much immediately. these days, i connect everything to money, because there is so little, and it's really easy to complain about, so right off the bat i was playing the blame game and saying things like, "well, if we had the MONEY, i'd go see a freaking DOCTOR." (even though i probably wouldn't see a doctor even if we did have the money.)

because i was already on a roll with the complaining, i decided to complain some more. my feet were cold, but we don't have enough MONEY to run the HEATER. i want to put some flowers in a vase on the shelf but we don't have the MONEY to BUY ANY. and so on and so forth. and in the middle of my complaining, river was being his lately-mischievous self. chasing the dog. turning the television on and off. climbing onto the computer desk. getting into the trash in the bathroom. then decided he wanted my bowl of cereal for himself and spilled nearly the entire contents on the floor. ("if we had the MONEY to buy a freaking TABLE that wouldn't have HAPPENED.")

luckily, my friend kimberly came to my rescue, and took river to her house for a few hours, while i enjoyed checking my email, reading a book, and eating lunch, all in peace and without a toddler crawling on my face. of course, once i picked him up and we returned home, i realized getting rid of my child for a few hours doesn't mean i've gotten rid of his no-no scoping abilities, too. i decided to curl up on the couch with my book and a cup of coffee and try to nurse him to sleep. that wasn't much more pleasant, and he wasn't really interested in sleeping.

"river, please don't kick my book. mommy is trying to read. i can't read if you kick my book. sweetie, please sit still. you cannot stand up and keep nursing. i promise it doesn't work that way. if you want to go play, you have to stop nursing first. river, please don't bite. that really hurts mommy. river, no, i don't want to kiss your foot. it's a really cute foot, and normally i don't mind kissing it, but right now it's also a very dirty foot. so please don't stick it in my face. river, PLEASE stop sticking your finger in my nose. keep your hands to yourself."

frustrated, i finally put him down and left the room for a second to get a basket of toys. when i returned, there he was, standing on his tip-toes, reaching for my cup of coffee on the end table, which was in the same place my bowl of cereal had been this morning. i saw what was coming, and i cracked. i had really had enough today and it all came out in that instant, as the coffee spilled to the floor in slow-mo.


coffee was on the floor, on the rug, on the couch, on him. then, at that moment, i definitely lost all hope of winning best mom of the year award (if there was any chance to begin with). "look what you did! it's everywhere! mommy said NO and you didn't listen! you didn't listen! you're not a good listener! this is a no-no! that is not nice! why did you do that!" i yelled. no seriously, the dog was cowering in the hallway, in the dark. river just stood there, his face changing from a smirk to a sad little expression. i picked him up and plopped him in the playpen (which he had learned to climb out of, this afternoon). he started crying. as a mom, you really do learn the difference between your baby's cries -- hunger, frustration, a dirty diaper. this one... this one was hurt feelings. very hurt feelings.

sigh. as i'm typing this my cheeks are hot and i want to run to his room and kiss his soft, sleeping lips.

he cried and cried, and i continued to complain while i sopped up the coffee and talk about how other kids were so well-behaved and how i couldn't even get mine to understand leaving certain things alone. he knows he's not supposed to do that. he knows and he does it anyway. and he smirks while he does it, which is totally cute, but totally annoying at the same time. i swear if he were any older it wouldn't be cute at all.

eventually we reconciled and i nursed him to sleep while i cried to john about what a bad parent i am. i told him if i yelled at river like that every day he would have some serious psychological issues, and i didn't want to be a crazy mom who yells and gets angry because her one year old spilled coffee everywhere. after i laid him down i stared at him sleeping like a little angel for a few minutes and told him i was sorry i yelled at him and that it's okay that he disobeys sometimes because i know he doesn't mean to, he's just curious and wants to drink from a cup like mama. and see what happens when he chases the dog. and likes the way the TV looks when he turns it on and off, on and off. and climbing on the computer desk is fun, as is pushing all the keys on the computer and watching the screen turn blue.

i guess we all have moments like these, and i'm glad children are forgiving and super resilient, which gives us the chance to replay the same scene over. and over and over. and make different choices in how we react. as my friend diane told me, "the great thing about parenting is that each day (even each moment) can be a fresh start. all you have to do is decide to make a change."


  1. ohhh nicole, that comment just made my night, for real. <3

  2. Whitney, this is so beautifully honest! I was a screamer (an octave above yeller) so I know where you are coming from. You can do this, God knows how (really, just ask!)

  3. Whitney I really feel like you could have written this for me. I've definitely had my days (and weeks and months) like these--and although you feel like you're about to lose your mind you somehow make it through. I commend you for being so open and honest to the world--it's hard enough to admit to ourselves when we feel like we've messed up--but thank God children are so forgiving!

  4. And hey--I don't remember my mom yelling at us all that much, so it'll all turn out! ;)

  5. he knows he's not supposed to do that. he knows and he does it anyway. and he smirks while he does it, which is totally cute,<<<

    Hey whitney - I totally understand where you are coming from losing it when you are stressed and just yelling...

    From my own perspective from things I've read in my child development books is that an 18 month old cannot cognitively understand right and wrong. Cause and effect or even the idea he isn't supposed to do things. Just as a child isn't capable of walking at a certain age because their skeleton cannot handle it they aren't capable of "knowing" they aren't allowed to do something their brain hasn't developed that far.

    If we believed that he were able to "know" not to do things we would also believe as an example - Michael should have known not to go to the pool. We told him not to before. Unfortunately the case is WE KNOW not to do things and to watch out for things. Babies however big they are, are still babies and have to hit developmental milestones in their own time.



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