I’m going to make a public confession here.
I was THIS close to taking my daughter by her shoulders and shaking her in front of other people yesterday. Hard.
Not to mention the urge to yell in her face and smash her tiny cello to the floor.
All because she wouldn’t behave as I would have liked her to.
We were both tired. I had asked to attend the afternoon group cello class in place of her usual individual lesson so that I could take her to watch ‘The Gruffalo’ that morning.
Based on experience, I already knew that it was not a wise decision given that she would refuse to nap before the class and that the 45-minute group session would be a test of limits for a 3 year-old, compared to her usual 20-minute solo class.
I didn’t shake her, of course. Nor scream and smash a cello. I couldn’t. Not while in class. Definitely not within the privacy of home either.
Instead, I calmly took her out of the room, summoned up every ounce of patience from within, held back harsh words and quietly told her that if she was not ready for class, we could leave right now.
Her chin quivered. Two piteous wails emerged. She mewed, “No, I’m ready for class.” I pleaded with her to please listen to the teacher and escorted a contrite little figure back into the room to continue with the lesson, her eyes shiny with tears.
I must have looked really beaten, for after the class, the teacher walked over and gently comforted me, telling me that Coco was doing fine, that the other girls were older, and to focus on the positive things that she did right. I couldn’t quite look her in the eye without feeling like breaking down.
I managed to keep it together till we got to the car. But the mix of emotions churning over inside needed an outlet and in the backseat, out of sight of my daughter while she chatted cheerfully in front with her dad, my eyes released big fat tears of pent-up frustration, fatigue, regret (for snuffing out a 3 year-old’s natural enthusiasm for cheeky antics) and shame (for the urge to go ballistic on a child – and a cello.)
My husband turned back, saw the teary mess behind him and reached over to pat my knee. I composed myself before getting out of the car so that Coco wouldn’t see mummy crying and eventually caved in to her pleas of “Talk to me, mummy”, “Play with me, mummy” and “Show me your happy face” – even though I felt far from happy and just wanted to crumple into a heap in bed alone.
Sigh. Tell me that I’m not alone on this rollercoaster ride.
In feeling in control one moment – only to unravel uncontrollably in the next.
In feeling anger at being defied – only to be ashamed for being a bully for uttering threats that reduce a child to tears.
In wanting to wrap myself around that delicate childish frame to protect it from the world – and yet feel like literally shaking its tiny owner into compliance.
How can one little person, no – make that two little people and soon, three – create so much emotional upheaval within a grown-up?
Please, share – how do other mothers out there deal with this yo-yo of emotions?