Still giggling, he yanked a hunk of my hair and in an
instant my blood boiled.
More laughter, another whack on my head. I stuck my finger in his face and mustered up
the meanest whisper he’d ever heard: “You stop that RIGHT NOW.”
His little face froze just before he burst into tears.
Cradling his sobbing face in my neck, I teared up too. “I’m sorry, baby,” I
whispered into his ear. “I know you’re just tired. I’m tired too. I’m so
Wracked with guilt, I held my now quiet and cuddly child and
thought, “Oh my god, it worked.”
I'm not surprised that my toddler acts unreasonably, but I'm
surprised by how unreasonably I react when I lose control over a situation.
Did I really have to prove to my toddler that I could win?
One day with a toddler has more frustrating moments than I
can count, and most of the time I know how to deflect, walk away or—more often
than not—laugh out loud. (Have you ever seen a tiny human fling himself to the
floor, kicking and screaming because the dog stole his cracker? It’s kind of
But under the layers of my normally calm and collected motherly self,
there lies a button that only my little one knows how to find. And it’s usually triggered by a total loss of
control, whether it’s exhaustion, a new environment, or because the plans in my
head are completely thrown out of whack.
The other day, I decided it would be genius to pop him in
the shower with me—we’d save time and it would be fun. He had different
Somehow that situation escalated into me, naked in the
bathroom, stripping him down to only his socks. He was crying and I was
yelling, “I just need to wash your butt!” Then I unceremoniously dumped my
screaming child into the bathtub, socks and all.
Moments later, he was splashing happily in the tub, and I
was reeling over the crazy lady who had taken over in a situation that wasn’t
even important in the first place. Did I really have to prove to my toddler
that I could win? I know better than to enter a battle of wills with a
But moms make mistakes, too. And the first step in being kind
to my kid is remembering to be kind to myself and remembering, while the
fastest way to regain control is to exert my authority, it’s certainly not the