When Mom Gets Angry- Really, Really Angry

This was one of our favorite books when the kids were little. We read it aloud at night, especially after a day when one or more of the angels pitched a fit, threw a tantrum or did some other lobbing of emotions.

Last night, I needed someone to tuck me in, get me a glass of water (yeah, right, water) and read this to me.

I lost it yesterday. I went apeshit. I turned into Hulk Mom. And it wasn't pretty.

There wasn't a single straw that broke this big sweaty camel's back. More like a little fluttery flow of straws that just kept raining down during the day. Actually, one of those straws happened to weigh a little more than the others, and I think that was the one that pushed the needle into the red. I do know I said a silent prayer of thanks to the weather gods who ensured that the a/c was cranked and the windows were closed. But this tantrum was a loud one, I'm sure those neighbors who live within hearing distance at least got a muffled version of Mommy Goes Berserk, Act One.

Looking back at the day, now that my blood pressure has reverted to a normal level and the inmates are all still snoring, I think it was like a Perfect Storm of sorts.

It's been hot and muggy, and I do believe statistics prove that criminal behavior increases during heat waves.

This was technically Big Daddy's weekend but he's "out of town" (no snarky comment here, feel free to insert one yourself) so maybe my internal calendar was thrown off by the schedule change.

My two teenagers are grating on my last nerves this summer. The 16 year old has been trying to get a job, but so far has been unsuccessful. Therefore his days are spent sleeping until noon, eating everything that isn't expired or too hard to prepare, and leaving trails of clothing and dishes throughout the house like a giant, hormonal Hansel minus Gretel. The 14 year old is me at that age. She has a small group of friends, most of whom are scheduled up the wazoo with camps during the summer. My daughter is not one of those girls who will hop on her bike and just tool around, looking for something to do. She instead will bury her nose in a book only to surface for food and bathroom breaks. And to stand behind me and tell me she's bored. Or hungry.

I don't know if it's the fact that I was working my ass off at 16 (getting my butt poked with a serving fork by the biggest pig boss in the world, Mr. Weatherman at Bishop's Buffet. Real name, you bet. Hope he has a daughter now who has a boss just like him.) that is causing this growing frustration towards my 16 year old. I know it's a different world, I know he's been through more in his young life than a lot of people will ever go through, but this teen cave-man act is starting to lose its shine. This may be the week I start kicking his sleepy hiney just a little bit harder.

And my daughter...I know all too well what it's like to be a shy, bookish, big boned girl in a world full of thin, giggling social butterflies. Sometimes it sucks. And my heart aches for her some days. But then other days, like yesterday, I wanted to throw all of her books out on the front lawn and her with them. And I wanted to yell out at her, "GO DO SOMETHING!!!!!". She's in that awful limbo...too old to be signed up for the summer arts and crafts stuff, too young to go out and work even a few hours a week. But she's at the perfect age for being Mean Older Sister. And that's what she chose to do yesterday. Actually, she's been playing the part for the past month, but yesterday she put a little extra effort into it.

The two little boys: Henry (who will be a teenager in just a couple of weeks) told me on Saturday that this was going to be a "chill weekend". I guess "chill weekend" means one in which a boy will not change out of his South Park lounge pants for two days and will spend 90% of the time horizontal on a couch with one hand on the remote and one hand stuffed in a bag of pretzels. Which I get, truly, I get it. But why the t.v. in the living room? And why, for the love of God and all other holy entities and beings, why a Hannah Montana marathon? Enough said.

That leaves William. William is getting his horns. They started coming up a little this past year, way later than I expected. He's the baby. Maybe the babies of the family sprout the horns later, who knows. But William is perfecting the art of being annoying to his siblings. Nothing awful, nothing that makes me want to run to a child therapist, just little things that he does for the sole purpose of grating on older sibling's senses. Like throwing a ball at a wall over and over and over again. Standing in front of a t.v. screen for just a second longer than he should. Repeating a nonsensical phrase in an annoying voice over and over and over again. You get it.

So we'd have patches of calm quiet time, during which I tried to get some work done. Yes, work. I try to put about 25 or so hours into my eBay work every week during the summer. We have one computer. It's a Dell that is so old sometimes I think if I look under the desk I'll see a Flintstone-era creature running on a treadmill to keep it powered up. So it's slow. And having one computer means that I am competing for screen time with the aforementioned Hansel, who has to check facebook at least 342 times a day, with Henry, who needs to watch videos of other people playing video games on YouTube and with William, who likes to find games that make loud repetitive noises and also slow the computer down to molasses speed. So when it's my turn, IT'S MY TURN and I try to get as much done as possible. Which I was doing during the quiet times yesterday.

And that's when they start. It's almost like watching a huge summer storm building up. The birds start chirping a little more frantically. The wind stops. You feel a little charge in the air. And then it starts: "STOP IT!!!" "what am I doing?" "YOU KNOW, JUST FREAKING STOP IT!!!"...followed by a little silence and then another ball throw at the wall. Just one. And then, it's hammer time.

Their fights are stuff of legend, at least for me they are. I grew up with just one brother, and while we had our squabbles, I can say with complete certainty that we never had smackdowns of this proportion. Screaming, pacing, shelves and tables swept clean with an angry arm, pushing, shoving, taking of remotes...it gets ugly. And yes, I do step in when it gets really bad. In my defense, I am one person in a sea of children. There really are times when the inmates are running things. I'm trying to work on that, but some days, I just wait for it to burn out. Yesterday was different, though. Something of mine was broken (and it wasn't just my spirit this time).

One child, and I won't call them out on it here, somehow managed to break a picture. A little picture, a snapshot in a small brass frame that I've had for almost 15 years. It's a picture of Charlie and Molly. I used to let them nap in my bed when they were really little, like 3 and 1. One day, I took a camera into the room to get a picture of them snoozing together. And right as I stood above them to snap the photo, Molly's eyes fluttered open. And I took the picture. So it's a picture of my sweet toddler Charlie, curled up on his side, passy in his mouth, and baby Molly looking up at me with her beautiful blue eyes and the very beginnings of a smile on her face. It's my favorite picture, ever. And one of them threw it. Yes, I know I can replace the frame, but somehow that one act of random madness pushed me over the edge. And chaos ensued.

I don't snap like this very often. But when I do, it's bad. I swear. Oh, wipe that judgy look off of your face, I know for a fact some of you do, too. And those of you who don't, go down to your basement right this second and look for either a halo or a big, adult-sized pod. Because you are either a saint or an alien. Or maybe you just have a better filter than I do. Or kids who don't conduct themselves like drunken longshoremen during last call at a brothel/bar. Either way, there you have it.

I screamed, I swore, I said things that mommies shouldn't say. I bemoaned my very existence and wondered, aloud, what life would have been like if I had chosen to remain single and childless. I looked at Walter (the dog) and said to him, "If it was just you and me, we'd have a clean house and I'd have a flat stomach." I told Molly to pack her shit up and get ready to move in with Big Daddy and Secretary. I threw Legos and started furiously filling up the dishwasher. It was epic.

And then it ended. I apologized for the crap I said, which I know is like putting a Band Aid on a compound fracture, but it's all I had. We made Rice Krispie bars and ate a few and then got ready for bed.

This morning, Molly is still not speaking to me, which I expected. She has learned how to hold a grudge from a black belt. This too shall pass.

Anger like this is something that no one tells you about when you first become a mom. This is the kind of anger that surprises even the most well-prepared among us. The kind that rises from some ancient, primal spot in our souls. This is the kind of anger you experience and then get some sick little glimmer of what happens when those few mommies snap and end up in the news. I'm not condoning or excusing or trying to make light of child abuse, but when you become a mom and go through this kind of anger, you realize that it's just a few strands of sanity that separate "us" from "them"...the moms who get pissed, vent and then get over it vs. the moms who get pissed and then hurt their kids. It's a fine line, one that I have never, ever crossed but one I have seen up in the not-too-distant horizon. I thank God every time that I have the tools to handle it. I may not handle it like Stepford Mom or SuperNanny would suggest, but it gets handled. My kids don't.

So today is a new day. The humidity has dropped, the sun is shining and the kids are starting to wake up. The past is that...passed. I won't beat myself up for being human yesterday, but I will try to learn something from what went down. Maybe I need to be more proactive in finding things for the kids to do. Maybe I need to re-read my Good Cop/Bad Cop post again.

Maybe what I really need to do is find our beat up, dog-eared copy of "When Sophie Gets Angry" and read it out loud. For old time's sake.


  1. I love you Jenny.
    I really, really, do.
    I swear you live in my house. You must be hiding though, because I can't see you. But I know you're here.

  2. Thank you thank you thank you. I'm not alone.

  3. Sweet Spaz, you are so not alone! Remember that.

  4. I'll click on the links in someone's blogroll, and read until something captures me, or makes me laugh, and click the "Follow" button. But I didn't with yours ... because I was too caught up in reading it! Until I got to this phrase:
    "Oh, wipe that judgy look off of your face"
    And on the issue of that line between angry mom and abusive mom feeling scarily whisper thin - so, so resonant.

    I am really enjoying reading.


  5. Thank you Jules! You were already on my list of blogs I read, how funny is that?? Welcome to my little nook. Very glad to have you.

  6. Mine are only 6 & 3, but I find myself either threatening to leave them to their egocentric father or lock myself in the bathroom to shut the noise out. It doesn't solve many things, but at least nobody gets physically hurt. Being a single mum is tough, I totally get you. Big hugs

  7. Thank you for writing this, I have a 15 yr old too (and a younger one), and yes I too have lost it and screamed and yelled because I do not like to feel I am a servant picking up after them, cleaning, cooking. One of them can barely get enough energy to pick his pants off the floor after removing them (many times they just remain on the floor), walks away from dinner before we are all done etc I just wasn't raised that way and much as I try to instill good values, I know their Dad doesn't teach them anything, he says they need freedom (really, asking them to clean up after themselves is curtailing their freedom!). I often dream of running away from my own home and let them be with their Dad for 2 straight weeks during the school yr and see what happens.


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