Monday I took Cadence to the doctor and went completely psycho on my kids in the car on the way. Chad and Riley were fighting over some little McDonald's toy. After
Later I apologized of course, because I just couldn't let my kids go on feeling like a) it was all their fault or b) their mom was insane. So, I apologized. And I didn't even use the word "but."
There is no manual, although I'm not sure it would help if there was. I'm trying, and while I usually am doing my best, sometimes I'm not. Some days I feel like the struggle to be a better parent is just that - a struggle. A pushing, wrestling, biting and scratching, fistfight of a battle with myself just to keep from abusing my kids with my words and actions. Screaming and yelling was all I knew how to do when I became a parent. It's the hardest thing I've ever had to do, to sit and make myself be quiet, quite literally biting my tongue instead of saying, "Gah! What is WRONG with you?"
And the hormones don't help. Hormones are my enemy. My little temper tantrum in the car was completely out of nowhere, which was why it slipped through my filters so easily. Normally, I would notice I was getting angry and step on it; just grit my teeth and say, "Please just put the toy away if you can't agree on who will play with it," in my best Sweet Mommy voice.
I used to hope my kids couldn't see through my fake sweetness. I was afraid they would think I spent my days hating them and pretending I didn't. Now, thanks to these outbursts and subsequent apologies, I'm glad they know the truth. I'm not perfect. But I'm doing my damndest to be the best parent I can. Now, my hope is that my children will reach adulthood with the understanding that while my instinct was to beat the living crap out of them, I somehow managed to treat them with love and respect. I made mistakes and then did my best to make it right again. I loved them enough to fight with myself instead of them.
I think the worst part about living this way is the feeling that I'm the only one who has this much trouble. Every other parent I know seems to be a natural at it. When Mom raises her voice, it's because she's Really Mad, it's not just part of a normal day. The parents I know don't have to apologize to their kids because they never hurt their feelings in the first place. I see the awfullest kids with the sweetest parents and I think I can't possibly deserve such great kids when I'm such a psycho. I don't see other parents taking deep breaths and counting backwards from 10. I don't see other parents start sentences with, "Damnit! ---" before replacing the angry face with a nice one and restarting with, "Please." I'm sure they exist. I just don't know anyone like that.
Thankfully, the worst of the hormones are out of the way now. I'm still suffering and grumpy, but I'm past the point of complete insanity. I plan to spend the afternoon reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and drinking homemade cocoa with my kids. May chocolate cure all that ails us.