His (Not so) Good Mother

I believe that I am a good mother. I base that belief on the fact that I always strive to do what is good and right for my children. I have their best interest at heart and I love them with every fiber of my being. That said, there are times I fail my children. I don’t always feed them the healthiest food. Sometimes, I yell too much or say “no” too much. Sometimes, I don’t give them all of the attention that they need.
I’m not perfect, that’s for sure.
But when I make a mistake, I apologize. When I’ve not done right by them, I let them know that I’ve failed them and I do what I can to make things right.
Today, I failed my children in a monumental way.
It’s been a rough week filled with stress, deadlines and PMS. I feel overwhelmed with all that needs to be done and all of the people depending on me. I’ve asked for help, but no one has taken me seriously.
Today, I succumbed to the stress and frustration that has been building up inside of me.
I didn’t physically hurt my child. I never would do that. But I broke his heart.
I screamed. I hit the wall. I slammed a door.
I’m ashamed and heartbroken that my children had to witness that kind of behavior from their mother.
When I apologized to my son, he broke down and cried. And this boy NEVER cries.
“I’ve never seen you act like that. You’ve never talked to me that way, Mom.”
I hugged him and I apologized over and over again. I can’t tell you how low I felt in that moment. I can’t begin to express what a failure as a mother, as a person I felt like. All I could think was “I can’t ever take this back. He’ll always remember this day and what I’ve done here.”
I had a very honest and candid conversation with all 3 of my children. I have apologized over and over again and my children have forgiven me. I am truly grateful for their forgiveness, but there is a heaviness that remains in my heart that I was capable of such ugliness towards one of my children.

51 thoughts on “His (Not so) Good Mother

  1. Mary

    They don’t stop loving you. And they have to realize at some point that you are human. You didn’t break down because you are evil. You are overwhelmed. You need to forgive yourself. I’m sure that you can think of ways to lower your stress level before it becomes too late.

  2. MomZombie

    I had a moment like that with my now 16-year-old when she was about 4 or 5 years old. She still brings it up. It still hurts me to the core. She has forgiven me and actually laughs about it. She’s older now and understands that I was under unbelievable stress and just cracked. Parents are human. They are not robots. I hope you find the relief you need during this hard time.

  3. RoseC

    No parent is perfect. Your wonderful heart felt broken by this scene, but not everyone allows themselves to feel that. I can’t tell you how much the moments that my parents have apologized have made a difference later in life and prevented further trauma – and a lot of people I know never get that. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Also remember that you have kids who feel they *can* cry about this in front of you and share their feelings. Despite the hurt in this situation, that shows you kids who *trust* you a lot and know you love them.

  4. Miss Britt

    The only thing worse than seeing someone else hurt your child is realizing that you hurt your own child.
    And yes, I know.
    Because we have all done it at some point. If we haven’t, we just haven’t done it YET or aren’t self aware enough to know we’ve done it.
    Sending you a big squishy one mom to another Internet hug. And bless you for teaching your children humility.

  5. Jen

    No parent is perfect and almost all of us will have moments like this. The difference between good parents and bad parents is that good parents regret these moments and learn from them and try even harder the next time. Bad parents just don’t give a shit. You’re a good parent. Your actions after the incident prove that.

  6. Laura

    Been there, done that. Like someone else said you are human. And the thousands of good mom days will outweigh the few bad mom days. Hugs.

  7. DiaryofWhy

    This was a fairly regular occurrence in my house, growing up, and my mother hit more than the wall. She has never apologized.
    You are and will always be a good mother. Your children’s relationship with you proves that.

  8. Sarah Lena

    Oh, honey. I’m so sorry. I had this breakdown about a month ago and I still wince thinking about it. I literally had to take my child out of the house because I knew I was capable of dangerous things if we stayed behind.
    You know what’s amazing, though? He remembers me crying, he remembers me upset, he remembers what triggered it.. but mostly, he remembers that I got better and we had a really good talk and afternoon because of it.
    We are all human, babe. Hugs to you. Tomorrow is another day.

  9. Chibi Jeebs

    I’m not a mom, so take this with a grain of salt, but when I was a teenager, seeing my mom get to that point was the only way I *got* where she was and how serious she/the situation was. It IS eye-opening to see for the first time, but it certainly didn’t make me think less of my mom – if anything, I saw her as a human (and not “just” my mom, if that makes sense).
    I think the big thing here is that you apologized and talked about it with them openly and honestly. That will go a long, long way, I promise.
    *huge hugs*

  10. melly

    Those are the moments when a child realizes that his/her mom is a human. It’s okay, Yvonne.

  11. kdiddy

    I’ve had that moment many times and felt exactly how you do. I remember my dad doing similar stuff when I was little. And even though he never apologized, I forgave him a long time ago and some time after that I understood better why he did that and the hurt and fear went away. We’re human. We break. We put ourselves back together. You fixed it just right, mama. You really did.

  12. anncan2

    Been there…done that. Don’t beat yourself up about it. As moms we have a right to “lose it” every now and then. Our kids sometimes only “get it” when we act extremely. My kids still joke “watch it or mom will kick the wall again” and that signals all of us to lighten up before it gets bad again. Good luck!

  13. baseballmom

    have to agree with chibi jeebs-there are times when i’ve just lost it, and then, they realize what i meant by, ‘i can’t take it anymore’ when they are not taking me seriously. sometimes, moms need help and if you throw a mom fit then they get the message. not saying it’s the best way, but it happens to ALL of us. and the commenters are right who said that at least you recognized it, apologized for it, and talked it out…because you care, and because those little people are what you care about first. you rock, Y, and don’t forget it.

  14. alie

    You know what he’s going to remember, Y? He’s going to remember that you apologized and that YOU MEANT IT. I got yelled at a lot by my father when I was little. There were a lot of slammed doors and hitting of walls, but you know what? He never, never apologized until I was in my mid-twenties. A heartfelt apology goes a hell of a long way. You ARE a good mom. Don’t ever forget that.

  15. Kristy

    You taught your children a valuable lesson..that no one is perfect and that everyone is capable of mistakes and more improtantly the value of recognizing a mistake, owning up to it and apologizing for it. Those are huge huge lessons….that only a good mom would follow through on.

  16. Jenn

    I kicked a hole in a wall the other day. Not a proud moment, not intended, just trying to send a message that I meant business by smacking the wall to make a loud noise. Now I have to patch a hole in the wall -easy- and a hole in my kid’s heart- not so much.
    I have apologized, forgiveness was dispatched but the momma guilt has yet to dissipate.
    I think what matters is that they see us be human, apologize and move on. I didn’t have this model in my life growing up-I think it would have made all the difference if I had. I want my boys to know it is okay to screw up, to learn, apologize and then let it go. I think I have the first 3 things down, it is the last one that is a buggar to embrace.
    Thanks for this post.

  17. mandy

    Hi Yvonne,
    I usually lurk, but thought I’d drop a comment. I am a “beat myself up over my mistakes” kind of person. Maybe we share a bit of that trait? From what I can tell though, while it seems like you might have shocked your son, you didn’t break his heart. We all make mistakes. It happens. Often, it seems, the hardest person to forgive in this parenting gig, is ourselves.

  18. Jenera

    I think every mother has had a similar moment. And though it is scary for everyone involved, your children will learn that no one is perfect, we all lose our temper, and taking responsibility for the bad actions will make everyone involved stronger.

  19. Molly

    They had a day where they witnessed you act in a way they’d not seen before- in a way that someday maybe another person will act toward them, or maybe they will be guilty of themselves. And then they watched the way you handled it– how you brought it out into the open honestly, and apologized, and likely that is a lesson that they will carry in life. People mess up, and then people can apologize and heal. We have all done it. I have, and my three are all under eight. You are one fantastic mom.

  20. Rachael

    I think Britt’s right – it’s part of being a parent. I slapped my son on the arm when he was 2, after he slapped me in the face. It was a visceral response, but it horrified me that I did it. The look on his face was awful, like I’d betrayed him. It was the first time I felt like the WORST parent ever, but I’m sure it won’t be the last. You are able to talk about it with your kids, apologize, and let them know you’re not perfect but you love them. That makes all the difference.

  21. Kami

    I’ve thrown a laptop and broke an xbox headset, top that, lol! I’m pretty sure they make meds for that kind of behavior….yes I’m sure they do. 😛

  22. Zoot

    I know you’ve already gotten a million comments of support and commiseration but I wanted to add mine to the mix. It still sounds like my sins are greater than yours – but I wanted to tell you more about my Dad. My Dad had an awful temper. He never hit us but he would say horrible angry hurtful things that would make us cry. He always, after calming down, apologized. Let me tell you – THAT is what I remember. I do remember a bit of his periodic freakouts – but the apologies? Those are what I remember most because they showed me how much he really loved me. Don’t fear your children will remember the anger, seek peace in knowing they’ll remember the way you handled it. I lost my Dad last year but I still carry with me an unfaltering love – even knowing his failures – b/c his apologies and his pain over not always being able to be the best Dad on the planet? That is what meant more to me than anything else.
    Hang in there, hon.

  23. Jenny

    I feel like a fail my kids all the time . . . I let them eat junk more than they should, I let them watch t.v. a lot more than they should, I don’t do crafts with them, I don’t read to them like I should, the list goes on and on.
    But when I’ve yelled? Or thrown things? Or thrown their things? Or felt like I could grab their arms and jerk them around (always THISCLOSE before being able to stop myself) I feel like the crappiest mother on earth.
    They see the bad. They see the good. When I hold them, and kiss them, and tell them everything that is wonderful about them I know, I KNOW, that no one could love them even a fraction as much as I do.

  24. liz

    Sending you hugs, and hoping that you can forgive yourself for being a human being. Remember where your breaking point is, and remind others when you ask for help.

  25. Kyla

    I’m so sorry you had a bad day. We’re human, we screw up, do things we regret…the important thing is to apologize, explain how we messed up, and repair the damage. It sounds like you did exactly that. Don’t beat yourself up.

  26. laura

    Wow, first of all, I am so sorry you even had a day like that, but sad to say we all have a day like that and we all do things our have outbursts we wish our kids would forget. And you made it forgivable to them by being the human you are, telling them you were wrong and appologizing to them for your actions. That makes you the best parent in my book. Most people wouldn’t have done that, they would have just left well enough alone. Don’t let yourself feel any more regret (easier said than done I kno) because no matter what, you children love you and in their eyes you are the best mother in the world!!!

  27. lani

    The fact that he’s never seen you act that way before says a lot of wonderful things about you, Y. It probably wasn’t all bad for them to see that you are feeling a lot of pressure and need help. Sometimes Moms get taken for granted. Your apology is what they’ll remember. And they’ll do the same if/when this day comes for them in their future. It might feel ugly to you, but the way you handled it afterwards is beautiful.

  28. Jessie Street

    I think every mom has had that moment they lost their GD minds all over top of their children. I all but cursed my son out over wearing my work shoes (silver flats, wth) while checking on his little patch of garden and he got them all muddy and I was PISSED. So I went on and on and on and on to the point my 12 year old son cried because I had made him feel so guilty and bad. Talk about feeling bad. I still feel sad about it now…just because the look on his face as he was trying not to cry…MAN. Talk about heartache. :(
    Your son will always love you, kids never stop loving their mommas. I can think of a few times my mom has lost it in my presence and I will forever love her. Kids are a lot more forgiving and understanding than I think we give them credit for.
    Everything will be okay.

  29. Lauri

    I have been there to Yvonne… with that same feeling of this is what she will remember, not the zillion positive things I do for her, but that one time Mom lost her shit

  30. Jenn

    Y, I also am not a mom but can tell you my poor parents were driven to this point multiple times by the three of us, and believe it or not, we all laugh about it now.
    As everyone else has said, you are a good mom and your kids know it. You don’t need to keep beating yourself up.

  31. Laura Lohr : My Beautiful Life

    I threw a hair brush across the tile floor a couple weeks ago, out of frustration. I felt so ashamed that I could not control my anger, especially in front of my child. I am still embarrassed, but I know I won’t let it happen again. The guilt though. Oh, the guilt.
    You would only a bad mom if you didn’t think there was anything wrong with the bad behavior. You are a good mom and they know you are, too.

  32. Leah

    I don’t know of many parents that don’t have at least one day that is that day in their memory myself included. For me I just now strive every day to be the best mom I can be. I didn’t say perfect mom I said the best mom I can be. There is no perfect mom.

  33. Nina

    Children are resilient. Sometimes we all lose our shit in the way we regret. In my experience how we mend it afterwards is more important than the fact that it happened in the first place.
    I remember yelling at my son when he didn’t deserve it, over a mess he made because I didn’t give him clear enough instructions and he was really too little to know better. I was monumentally stressed and pregnant and doing fifteen things at the same time, but I still remember his little face afterwards and the hysterical crying even as I pulled him into my arms and apologised. There have been plenty of moments like that.
    They’ll still love you just as much. We will all go on and survive knowing that at least we had authentic relationships in which no one was perfect but we tried our best.
    And perhaps my worldview is skewed by seeing traumatised kids everyday, but no, I don’t think situations outside of prolonged and malicious abuse or neglect count as monumental failures as mothers.
    The rest? That’s just life.

  34. Issa

    Being a parent means screwing up sometimes. Being a good parent is recognizing it and occasionally apologizing when necessary. The thing is? Just because we are parents, doesn’t mean we aren’t human first.
    I’ve had to apologize for my words and actions before and it is hard to know that they had to see that side of me. Then again? I see that side of them too and always forgive them for it as well.
    Hugs Y. He will remember. He will remember that event…maybe forever. And one day? When he’s said or done something in front of or too his children? He will remember and apologize. Because he learned from you that it’s okay to make mistakes and to learn from them.

  35. Steph

    You’d never know it now, but when I was growing up my mom had anger issues. She never laid a finger on us, or actually yelled at/verbally abused us. But hot damn could she slam a kitchen cabinet.
    It really bothered me, but she always talked to us afterward and apologized.
    Yvonne, your kids will understand and they will forgive you and know that you’re still a wonderful mother who loves them.
    I never resent my mother for her past anger.

  36. Laura Taff

    I completely understand this. I think we expect too much of ourselves to think this could never happen. But we expect to little of ourselves to just accept it too. Let’s focus on forgiveness
    (the forgiveness we receive and the forgiveness we have to give to ourselves) and asking God to change us. Making better decisions about when to act on our anger and when to walk away. Finding stress outlets, and making sure its our goal NOT to act like this. This is me in a nutshell, I know exactly how you feel. And my daughter has special needs on top of all that.

  37. Heather Cook

    I’m sorry you had a rough day. Your son probably will forget it… or if he remembers it I KNOW he’ll remember that you apologized. Sometimes we have to show our kids not just the being good people part… but also the failing and asking forgiveness part too.

  38. Jaime

    I think all moms feel this way. I too make it a habit to apologize to my daughter when I do something wrong. Hopefully she will understand one day how hard moms try to do right but still can go wrong. You are a strong woman and that is what your children will remember.

  39. Alicia

    My mom hit me once.. slapped across my face when I was about 6 years old. I accidentally knocked over a watermelon and it splattered everywhere. (She left it VERY close to the edge of the counter.) I always remember that “incident” and at the time, thought, “how COULD you!?!?” And I was mad at her for reacting the way she. As a LITTLE KID… I knew she overreacted. However, the fact that she never apologized for it, stung way more than the slap. Now, as an adult, I look back on that day and know she was going through menopause and someone probably pissed her off and the last thing she needed with a busted up watermelon all over her pristine kitchen. (Homegirl loves her some fruit too, so I’m sure that pissed her off too.)
    Anyway, the fact that you apologized and could have that talk with your boy is so much bigger than anything you could’ve said or done. He’ll remember THAT. He’ll learn from THAT. One day he’ll get mad at his wife or kids and yell, and be a big enough man to admit it and learn from it, because you taught him that.
    You are a great mom. GREAT. From what I know anyway, I mean, really, you’re just my make-believe friend. You might not even really exist anyway.
    Okay, bye.

  40. Vicky

    I read this post yesterday and thought about it all night long. Not because I think you did anything wrong by any means.
    Everyone loses their temper and regardless of the age temper tantrums happen. The fact that you took the time to apologize to them and let them voice their concerns/feelings makes you a better Mom than you think.
    Many of parents have lost their temper, felt bad about it and NOT apologized about it because they felt stupid. You showed your children compassion and remorse when you respected them enough to apologize.

  41. Denise

    I’m touched by your honesty. So often I can’t stand reading blogs because it’s like a brag fest. Shiny happy people holding hands. I have had those same moments you have, and I admire you for apologizing and recognizing your mistakes. Your kids will understand especially when they have a bad parent day themselves. God bless!

  42. kathy

    Well, no one is perfect and that everyone is capable of mistakes and more importantly the value of recognizing a mistake, owning up to it and apologizing for it.

  43. Baby Favorite

    BTDT and I think I’m very similar to you, otherwise, when it comes to parenting. My kids are my world; I love and ENJOY them more than most, I think. So I understand the agony that comes from hurting them like that. I totally get it.
    But you know what? You apologized, and from now on, they will remember that you too are human and may make big mistakes occasionally, just like they sometimes do/will. And they understood and accepted your apology just the way YOU would if the shoe were on the other foot. And most of all, I am betting that they’ll remember the loving, poignant words that followed far more than the hurt that started it.
    HUGS to you.

  44. Jen

    Yvonne, it happens. Please forgive YOURSELF and not be tortured by this mistake. I once slammed my brakes in a parking lot and YELLED so loud at my son to “just shut up!!” I felt awful.
    I think you were lacking balance that week; you aren’t horrible. And perhaps in the future you can not just ask your family for help, but require it. All to lighten the huge load you carry on your shoulders. I can only imagine the amount of stress you are under as a stay-at-home AND working mom.
    You got this, girl! You can emerge from this.

  45. Alison C

    Maybe it’s because I’m not a mom but one sentence in this that stood out for me was that you said you asked for help and no one took you seriously.
    We all have been guilty of taking Mom for granted and assuming that she can do anything because she does so much.
    I think you are a great mom becuase you apologised for what you did but I hope you also used it as a lesson to show that you human too and that when you ask for help you mean it.
    Hugs to you.

  46. Jackie Hall

    I have felt the pain you are feeling now. And most likely will again. We are human we fail. We try but we fail. The important thing is that you have told them your sorry and you all have learned from this. You gather them up and love them. Yes they might recall this but they will also recall you said you are sorry and loved them after. They know you are not like that. This is why your son cried. Talk to your Dr. you might need some help right now. There is no shame in asking for help when your chemically off.
    Your kids know they are loved. That as a parent is all you can do. And if this is the first time that has happened to you then you are way ahead of the game. Hang in there. Things will get better.
    Thinking of you,

  47. k

    oh how closely i can relate to this post, as it just happened to me last night. i just yelled at her when normally i just use a firmer voice and ask her if she’d like to “rephrase” the way she said something (she back-talked baba, and not in a big way, but i have zero tolerance for that).
    i took her upstairs after dinner and sat her on my lap and said, “E, i’m sorry i yelled. it wasn’t cool for me to yell and i was wrong to do that, because you are an amazing and good girl. how about next time we speak a little nicer to daddy, okay?” and she burst into tears.
    i felt like such an idiot, she’s fragile anyway with this attachment process since the adoption.
    you are not a failure. we make mistakes, we learn and grow from them, and continue showing our kids how much we love them. i am betting your son learned SO much watching you lose it a bit but then apologizing. recognizing our wrong, making it right- important important life lessons.

  48. Lala

    I think you’re a fab mom, a great writer, a wise woman, and down to earth, brave, and funny as all getout. I also feel really driven to look to you for advice. The main reason is because you and I both have PCOS. In regards to that, I want to ask you what you can tell me about Metformin. I was just prescribed 1000 mg of it per day and I can’t bring myself to fill the prescription. I’ve read things about it on message boards, in articles, and from you. All negative, but only vague. If you wouldn’t mind being candid with me, I would really appreciate it. Thanks for keeping this blog and sharing.

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