Monday, January 27, 2014

The Ugly Truth

Have you ever had a moment (or in my case, a weekend) where you felt so overwhelmed about life in general that your body literally can no longer take it, and you go into "the fierce broken dam meltdown mode"? This is not to be confused with the "mom's-lost-her-shit" meltdown mode that I may or may not have on a weekly basis. While in both cases, you will find a woman (or man) who has done lost their mind, the latter refers to moments where I explode. I want anyone and everyone to know how I feel, and I.Am.Mad. This is usually followed up with many apologies to my kids and ends with extra doses of hugs and kisses to make myself feel less guilty.

The former, however, is a very dark place. It's a place where I am actually ashamed of telling you I've been, and I haven't been in this place for a really long time. It looks a lot like depression and anxiety and feels like an out of body experience. This past weekend, I was in a low place.

 One of my New Year's goals was to make our mornings happier, it has been a lot easier said than done. I was on the last day of the week where my middle little just couldn't get his crap together to save his soul. He had spent most of the week forgetting homework or books to take home, and when he wasn't forgetting those things, he was forgetting pieces of his snow gear to take to school, and I was on the last inch of my patience supply. I was exhausted and mentally tapped out, and so I did what any other impulsive parent does. I yelled. A lot. Because that's what I do, and I'm not proud of it.

 It's not a new thing for us by any means, but that morning felt different. That morning as I was allowing my blood pressure to fall, I glanced in the rearview mirror to see the solemn face of my seven year old little boy. The look on his face wasn't sad or impartial like it usually was, but instead it held a look of defeat. It was as if his soul was crying, "I can't do anything right. I'm a failure." In that moment, my heart broke. I could physically feel the pieces of my heart cracking in my chest and falling to pieces. I couldn't believe I was like this, not just once in a blue moon, but several times a week. What was I doing to my boy? I sure wasn't building self confidence, and I sure as heck wasn't getting any brownie points for effort. I reached my hand back into his seat and prayed silently that he would grab it. Thankfully, he did, and while I didn't deserve his grace, there it was. I smiled at him from the rearview mirror and told him I was sorry, and that I loved him and that I was wrong. And as though nothing had ever happened, he smiled back at me and said, "It's okay mom. I forgive you."

Why is this so simple for kids to do, yet seems almost impossible for adults to do? Grace granted to me by my children hasn't just happened this time, and while I know I take it for granted a lot, this time felt different. What I expected to push me into overdrive in the trying not to blow it with my kids challenge, actually did the opposite. Yep. It gets uglier. That night, I told my husband with tears streaming down my face what had happened. I told him I was sick of us being the family that yelled. I needed something different. Anything so I would NEVER see that look on his face ever again.

  So I did what nobody in the history of ever should EVER do when they are feeling like a shitty parent. I read one too many blog posts/articles about life and parenting and what wouldn't completely screw up my kids, and instead of reflecting on my parenting and how I could make it better, I projected my frustration onto husband in a moment of shameful bantering about the way he was talking to the kids. Um, hello Mandi?? Tell me about your morning again? Gah.

Well, things kind of spiraled downhill from there. Without making this into a book, the next day was a dark one. I was confronted with the fact that I don't fight fair. I may get angry with him for his communication skills (or lack thereof), but I am MEAN. I'm not going to go into details, but let's just say that Saturday I saw just how awful I really was, and it didn't sit well with me. Am I the only one who has ever curled up in the fetal position in their dark bedroom with the covers pulled up over their head, listening to Bon Iver with headphones on sobbing in convulsive fits for an hour and a half? No? Well me neither, then.

In all seriousness, it's been a long time since I've felt that down. It literally felt like I had left my body and was watching it all play out as though I were in a tv show. I couldn't even fake happiness. At one point, I didn't even hear my four year old climb onto the bed to lay down next to me, wrap his arms around me and wipe away my tears. He didn't have any lengthy speech for me on why I should get my butt up and stop crying, but he did have words of wisdom. Oh, my baby is philosophical I tell you. He said, "Mama, it's time to be happy now." And that was it. He kissed my cheek, squeezed me tight and walked out of my room.

This whole life thing is hard. Parenting is hard. Being a wife is hard. Trying to juggle a career with a family and time for yourself is crazy hard, but it's doable. It's not going to be perfect. God knows that won't happen, but my kids have taught me this weekend that there isn't one way to be a perfect parent, but there are many ways to be a good one, and when I screw up, they've proven to me that grace exists. And if my  kids are willing to dish it out so generously, then I sure as heck better be able to do the same.

Sometimes, you need to be a little broken. It forces you to pick up the pieces, one at a time, and examine them before putting them back together. While I HATE feeling the way I did for 3 days straight, it was essential in taking the next step into changing my behavior. My parenting strategy is not going to be the same as Dan's, and while we need to spend some more time working out the kinks and details of this whole parenting gig, I'm realizing that we are both trying our very best, mostly. We both know we have areas to work on, but we've done a lot more good in raising them than screwing them up I think. I hope.

I don't know where we go from here. I'm going to try to remember to just do the next right thing and keep telling myself those same words daily. Love and Logic is a class that people rave about, and I'm incredibly interested in it myself. It seems to have a lot of success with parents I know who use it. If you use it or have used it, I'd love your input!

Here are a few articles from Hands Free Mama that always hit close to home. It wasn't easy to be honest about this, but I feel like maybe I'm not the only one who has these moments and these meltdowns, and I've found out that we all belong to each other in this whole journey of life thing. So that kind of means that while I love to write about all the things I'm doing right and fun, it's necessary that I include the shameful and the hard to tell stories too.

                                           The Bully Too Close to Home
                                         The Important Thing About Yelling

I'll leave you with this because it's something I need to remind myself this week. Happy Monday (almost Tuesday)!


  1. Love this Mandi. I think every mom has those days! The task of raising a child is completely overwhelming... and I think God uses those hard days to prove over and over again how much we need more of Him and less of us. Praying for a better week this week :) You are a great mom!

    1. Thanks Alissa! I needed to hear that today. :)

  2. I totally have these times! Your post made me tear up. I also feel extremely guilty as I think about my parents own hurtful words as well and the times I have felt that way about my own parents and it breaks my heart to think I'm making my own children feel like that. Children already have a rough time at school and out in the real world and its our job to create a safe place at home. That doesnt mean we're going to always achieve that but hopefully it doesnt happen that much so that our children remember how good we were instead of how mean when they grow up.

    1. That's all I want...for my kids to remember the good. :)