My fellow reality writer Jess, set this week’s topic, yelling. We wanted to write as honestly and with as much rawness as we could bare in these weekly topics, and this one has had me thinking. How much of this reality should I, do I dare to tell. How much can I bare?
The truth is while most of the time my yelling is limited, there is definitely a (really) scary element to my yelling sometimes and times when it does happen far too often. I see it in my kids’ faces, I see their precious faces drop, there is a kind of fear in their eyes, they don’t know where the yelling came from or when to expect it. I always feel terrible afterwards, I apologise and my two beautiful girls accept it each time with love in return.
It’s the one aspect of motherhood that completely threw me, that I could feel such unabated rage and frustration at the two beings who I would stand in front of a bus for, who I love with such intensity and physicality it’s impossible to imagine before having children. The flip side to this intensity appears to be intense anger, also like I’ve never experienced before.
You would think having been in charge of a room full of teenagers day in day out for six years would have prepared me at least a little for dealing with small being wanting things always to go they’re way, but it didn’t. I wasn’t a teacher that yelled a lot and on the occasions I did it was controlled, calculated and with purpose. I had a multitude of other strategies in place to deal with kids that failed to follow instructions or were disruptive or rude or whatever, yelling was my method of last resort, it wasn’t my style. I found a quiet voice of utter disappointment far more effective in conveying my message if needed. But in the parenting games, there are no exit cards, no co-ordinator or assistant principal to threaten with or send kids to and no bell concluding our time together. It is relentless and isolating and when you’re that at-home-everyday parent your limits are tested beyond reason.
The scary yelling (as opposed to the slightly louder and clearly angry but with reason voice) does have a pattern. One that I recognise, but struggle to control anyway. It usually appears at the end of the day, especially when Mr Good is working late unexpectedly – it’s something about thinking you’ve got back-up arriving soon only to discover you’ve got hours on your own still ahead of you. If there has been broken sleep by either of the children and therefore also me, the scary yelling can appear. This, I assume, is because I’m totally knackered and they are also over-tired and therefor impossible to manage, whiney and physically demanding. That physicality is another trigger, those days when Miss Two wants to be carried constantly and Miss Four has been sitting on me, leaning on me, climbing over me all day bring me to the edge of the precipice and sometimes over it. If I have made a real effort with something for them – or multiple efforts all day long – only to have it thrown back in my face, I am likely to crack. These efforts include things like trying to make a fun game of packing up their mess with a smile on my face and great enthusiasm, or trying a new dish specifically aimed at pleasing the fussy Miss Four (I have good news on that front which I should write about soon), playing an extended role-play game of their choosing which I find totally mind-numbing but they adore or getting all the things organised for one of the complicated craft activities as demanded only for them to sit for under five mintues doing said craft activity. Their lack of gratitude or respect for me at those times is what tips me over, a completely irrational thought considering they are TWO and FOUR and gratitude and respect are hardly concepts they have yet fully grasped. They don’t get they I have a fully functioning brain turning to mush everyday. They don’t get that I need to have a sense of fulfillment and achievement in my workday which doesn’t happen in the stay at home mum gig on most days. It is not fair for these feelings to be meted out on them, but sometimes that is our reality.
There are, thankfully, several things that give me hope that this is a temporary phase and also that my kids won’t be irreconcilably damaged by this. Firstly, my Mum says she was the same and I have no memory of that at all. Sure she got angry when we were growing up (she was more of a door slammer and silent treatment style angry which is me all over as well), but the rage-filled stuff she said she did when she had three under three at home all day every day, is gone from my memory completely. Secondly, I’m better at avoiding this type of yelling when I have work or study to do. I think when my intellectual side is more fulfilled I have far less resentment at being in role of being home with kids. Thirdly, Miss Four being at kinder 15 hours a week has already had a MASSIVE positive impact on our days. I enjoy the mornings or afternoons with the two of them, I love the walk to and from kinder with the conversation and sunshine and exercise, and I ADORE the calm and quiet of having just one child at home during the kinder session time – this last one is especially so as Miss Two is a very independent player and rarely wants or needs me to play with her.
I think it’s important that we acknowledge as parents we’re not perfect and some days we are so far from that ideal it’s scary, but that we’re doing the best we can. As a Mum I can act completely irrationally, there is a primal feeling to that yelling, sometimes it’s not even words, just sound, loud, frightening sound. But this, I think, is also completely forgivable given the job we’re doing in the current world, where there isn’t necessarily anything to break up your day with small kids. Most of us no longer have a neighbour we can line up impromptu play dates with (assuming of course they have children), or a cuppa, or to watch the kids while you whip to the shops for milk. Many live away from family. In isolation like this, is it any wonder mothers (and fathers) crack.