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For the Days When You Hate Yourself as a Mother

Photograph by Twenty20

I had one of those days yesterday.

A day when I was exhausted before I even stepped out of bed. A day when the demands seemed to overwhelm me. A day when when the sniffling noses and the whining and the car seat buckles against my numb fingers in the winter cold and the battles against the smallest, most ridiculous of things (like putting on toddler pants) seemed to build up a wall of bricks so heavy in my head I felt like I could explode.

Looking back, I'm so ashamed. I shake my head and think, how on earth could you get that mad at babies? How on earth can you not be a grown-up when they are so little? How can you be so horrible?

The sad and scary truth is, I am a mother who has felt it—that rage and that boiling temper, that over bubbling of a yell so fierce it hurts your throat, and when it's over, you're shaking and wondering who you are and what just happened.

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I hate myself in those moments.

I hate myself after those moments.

I hate myself just thinking about those moments.

But still, I have had those moments.

It helps to know I'm not the only mother out there who has struggled.

"Sometimes you don't realize you have a temper 'til you have kids. And then one night someone carves a pattern into the leather sofa. Or someone just dumps a pencil sharpener out all over the floor. After you've told them not to touch it," wrote mom Lisa Jo Baker. "A decade later and I am intimately acquainted with the wild temper that runs in these veins, inherited from generations before me and last night's discovery that the boys had dug holes all over the new lawn."

It helps to know I'm not the only mother out there who has struggled with a temper gone wild and it helps to know I'm not the only one whose trigger, it would seem, are the very people I love most in the world.

It helps to know, in those moments and, more so, in the after-effects of those moments like the after-shocks of an earthquake, that I can give myself grace.

I can give myself grace to fail, grace to falter, grace to be imperfect.

But more importantly, I can give myself grace to dust myself up, stand up and get better—grace to realize that one bad day, one regretful outburst or one voice raised too loudly is a mistake. But those mistakes, repeated daily, over and over again?

They're not acceptable and I refuse to ever let that happen.

Because my children deserve better and I deserve better.

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So today, I give myself permission to hate the mother I was yesterday. But today, I also give myself permission to acknowledge my shortcomings, to accept that I have room to grow and to believe that I can do better and I will do better. That might mean stepping away when I feel those familiar stirrings of anger or that might mean taking more time to fill my own cup, but I understand now that acknowledging my own triggers and identifying ways to reduce them are key.

I may have my bad moments, but I am not and will not be a bad mother.

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