When I became a mother for the very first time I became happy, truly happy, for the very first time. There is something about creating life that is so miraculous it makes you feel strong and brave and beautiful, things I had longed to feel for so long. For just under two years it was me and my boy, adventurers and best friends.
When Waverly came along, our lives were turned upside down. It was an extremely difficult transition for both Gannon and myself. We struggled to find balance and he was seemingly miserable with the changes he didn’t understand. We had such a wonderful and joyous relationship and while I worked hard to keep it that way, there were so many other worries now that I had double the responsibility. Waverly was and is a strong child who knows what she wants and will stand for no less. This has been true since birth.
Gannon had a mother who had patience and was nurturing in all situations. He had a mother who made him baby food from scratch and read all of the books and articles about anything parenting related. I began to feel guilty with every decision. I felt guilt over spending time with one and not the other. I felt guilt over not having a connection with Waverly while feeling I had injured my relationship with Gannon. I felt guilty for being tired. I was in a constant state of exhaustion from thinking and guilt tripping and breastfeeding and balancing the world on my shoulders.
When it was just me and Gan I never felt that a break was needed. I didn’t want to be away from him and didn’t feel it was a necessity. He was such a love, he was fun to be around, and I felt so great. I never got into the habit of self care because I felt as though my soul couldn’t be happier. When Waverly was born I assumed I wouldn’t need to do much differently and that is one area I was very wrong. I was sleep deprived in an ugly way. There were no longer naps. I became a beast. I had all the symptoms of depression coupled with anxiety and guilt. I began losing my patience in the form of explosive rage. On one particularly bad day I slammed a skillet down on the copper countertop and left a dent that I will have as a reminder for the life of the countertops. I broke bowls. I threw things, kicked things, screamed at the top of my lungs.
I hate myself for these things and can’t find forgiveness. I have been rough with my kids in an effort to not spank them. I have screamed in their faces, said words to them I will never be able to take back. I have wanted to hit them. I have wanted to run away, never to return.
I finally connected with Waverly around her two year birthday. Two years. Things became a little easier and I stopped yelling as much. But I was still yelling a lot. I had Egan right before Waverly turned two and the transitional period started over again. The ugliness of sleep deprivation, the ugliness of imbalance, the ugliness of me.
I have been a yeller for far too long. I am done being a yeller. I am done instilling fear in my children. I am done being selfish. I am done being frustrated with them for asking me questions while I am doing nothing of true importance. I can set things down to listen and connect with them. I can hold them while I make a meal if it means they will be less cranky during those times of hunger. I can listen to them while they are talking and give them room to explore without getting angry at the mess. I can be that mother I was when it was just one of them. I can love motherhood again.
I started keeping track of days I go without yelling. I was almost through the fourth day before I yelled at Gannon for not cooperating at bedtime. It had been a trying day and instead of being honest with Paul, I told him he could do something else when I really needed him in that moment. I yelled. I am still disappointed in myself for that moment. I restarted my counter and have made it three more days in a row. I will continue this until I have made it one week. Then one month. I will continue this until six months have passed and I have had a gentle voice all of the days. I will do this until it has been a year and I can’t remember the last time I yelled.
My kids deserve love and connection and trust and respect. They deserve to know that they can trust me and learn in my presence. They deserve to be allowed bad days and bad moods just like I am.
In the days I have spent connecting we have had so much fun together. More laughing and more hugging. More dancing in the kitchen. We’ve played more games, had more conversations, built more blocks. The kids have been more cooperative and easier to speak with. They listen more intently. I’m more focused on them and it shows. Waverly still has her moments but I don’t meet her resistenace with a harsh voice, I get down to her level and we talk it out and we both end up happier.
This is it. I’m done. I am done yelling and being a mom I am not proud of. I’m done being mad at myself. I am here with open ears, open arms, and a wide open heart. No more yelling. No more excuses. I can do it for them, for me, and for us.