I didn't mean to. I had been holding myself together all morning. Yes, I am tired after another night of the up and down game with my 3 year old. Yes, I am premenstural which means what usually causes me slight irritation throws me over the edge. Yes, I am running late again to get the girls out the door for school. I'm putting together lunch boxes that I don't feel meet the standard. Too much packet food, not enough fruit, not the right bread. I'm feeling the pressure of the perfect mum game I am playing with myself this morning. Am I using the right sunscreen, remember a hat, has everything got their name on it? My feelings are starting to boil, I need to check myself but I am too focused on getting to school on time.
Then begins the tantrum of the century. The white socks I give to Charlotte to wear are not the pull up socks she likes. I know her pull up socks are in the mound of unfolded washing in my bedroom. I do not have the strength to face the washing I have failed to put away. Enter the battle of wills where I insist she must wear the socks she's given. There are tears, there are slamming doors, I feel myself losing grip on my composure. I need to check myself but I am too focused on getting out the door.
I leave Charlotte to continue her meltdown and bring a dress to Michaela to wear. She screams that she will not wear that dress. I try to help her put on her underpants and she begins kicking and slapping me still screaming about the dress she will not wear. I told her ok, I told her we'll find something else but she is lost in her tantrum. She can't hear me and I receive a kick to the face. I can't win, I can't take it.
No I didn't yell. I scream in a shrill voice to "get dressed!" She throws herself down to sob uncontrollably and I throw the underpants down, walking off to the kitchen. I breathe out. I feel the anger leaving and the guilt arrive. Michaela is shaking as she sobs, trembling at the unexpected outburst from me.
I think back to when I was a small child and my mother exploded like this. I remember her face twisted in anger. Her eye wide. Her body trembling with adrenilan. I see it now mum. I understand. As a child I was as bewildered by your outbursts as I'm sure Michaela is of mine. I can only hope she grows into a woman, who like me, learns to know herself and witness her best and worst moments. That I have the presence of mind to be able to sit down, once all is quiet, reflect, see what happened and resolve to keep going. To keep trying to remember to check myself. To say outloud that I am losing control and I need to sit down.
And from witnessing your rage and witnessing my own I learned to give myself a gift you denied yourself. A heartfelt apology to my girls. Though I gave them the apology, what I gave myself was permission to be seen as imperfect. To allow my girls to see that it is ok to make mistakes, it is ok to say sorry. To let them see me as human, in the hopes that they wont grow to expect too much of me. I'm sorry I expected too much from you. Everything about you is a gift, including your rage. Your life teaching rage. Thank you mum.
Bronwyn Bay (heartbreaker)
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