To Lose It.

This morning, I was laying in bed after Brock and the kids had gotten up. Snuggled up against Rory, who was sound asleep, I was drifting back off for an extra hour of sleep provided by my generous husband.

I heard the growing thump, thump, thump of Ryder’s feet coming up the stairs. In his usual fashion, he busted into my bedroom and ran over to my side of the bed. Without modulating his voice, he asked, “Mama? I have boob bed?”

Following our daily script, I told him, “No buddy. You have boob couch when Mama gets up. Please go back downstairs.”

On a typical day, Ryder would immediately run back out of the room and pound back down the stairs until I woke up… or until he got impatient again and we would repeat the entire ordeal.

Today, for some reason, he decided to shout, “NO!”

I stayed calm and told him that he doesn’t get boob bed in the mornings, but he can have boob when I get downstairs. It just so happens that I was sleeping shirtless and didn’t have my bra pulled up, so there was actually an exposed boob present. He crawled over to me on the bed and started begging, “Please mum. Please I want boob bed. Please?”

At this point, Rory was stirring. I told Ryder very firmly, “We don’t have boob bed in the morning. Go down to the couch.”

As I was speaking, he lowered his head down to my breast and latched on despite my words.

It was like touching a hot burner. Like when something sweet contacts a sore spot on a sick tooth. Like when you step on a lego. INSTANT. Without any sort of build up or warning, my brain went from tired and sleepy to MAD.

I immediately threw him off of me and yelled. There seems to be no self control, no regulation in this state of anger. I can’t convince myself that I’m waking the baby more, or hurting the feelings of the child that is acting like a child. There is no rationality and no moderation.

“GET OUT OF HERE. YOU MAY NOT DO THAT. THIS IS MY BODY, AND YOU DO NOT GET TO TOUCH ME WITHOUT PERMISSION.”

Ryder immediately starts crying, a mixture of sorrow and fear.  Some small part of my brain tells me to grow up, he’s two and he wants boob. But the angry part of my brain is louder and shouty-er. I tell him to stop crying and go downstairs.

“Mama, I just want a hug,” he sniffles through his big tears.

Empathy still can’t break through the anger. “I don’t want to hug you. I’m very mad.”

He leans over to me and hugs me anyways. “Mama,” his broken voice implores, “You’re breaking my heart.”

“Yeah well,” my anger snaps back, “mine’s already broken.”

Crack. The anger cracks. Finally, regular Mandy comes back and empathy is present. I hug him back, and smell his hair. I stroke his arm, and tell him I’m sorry.

“I shouldn’t have yelled, Ryder. I’m sorry I made you cry.”

“I just want you to be a nice mama,” he tells me sadly.

“I know buddy. I’m trying to be a nice mama.” Regret and sadness. Immediate painful remorse. “Please go downstairs,” I request sadly, “and we can have boob couch when I get up.”

Ryder struts back downstairs, seemingly none the worse for wear, but I can’t help it – I wonder if I have put yet another notch in the armor of his psyche. I wonder what small damage I have caused this time. I wonder how hard it’s going to be for him to recover from a childhood where his mother is like a live-wire, and the unpredictably of her response is a minefield.

That instant hot second, the one where the anger goes live and takes over… I need to find a way to interrupt that. To block it. To pause before the rage, and insert some compassion. Some peace. Some ANYTHING. Because I have to be better than this. I have to be bigger than this.

A birthing affirmation comes to mind about contractions – how they are not stronger than me because they ARE me? My anger is not stronger than me because it is me. My rage cannot control me because it IS me. I can fix this because I can. It is me. And I will.

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  • Teresa Cavanaugh

    I just burst out crying while reading this. This happened to me yesterday. And I too am a “live wire” and I worry about how I’ve already done so much damage to my kids. And they always come back begging for my love and I feel unworthy. Will they be attracted to those kind of people (quick tempered like me) when they are older? *shudder* I don’t know if I have a hormonal problem or a psychological problem. I have a doctor appt on Friday. Also, hot flashes at night. I am 34. Thank you for your honesty. You give me hope.

    • Oh mama. Sending love and hugs. I hear you. You are enough – I promise you. <3

  • Lindsay

    Know that you are not alone in your reaction here. Just reading about someone touching your breasts without your permission made my hair stand on end and my stomach churn. I would find it very, very hard to react calmly if my child had done the same thing.

    The other day I slipped on a toy that had been left on the kitchen floor and grabbed a hot skillet to break my fall and almost pulled it down on top of myself and my toddler. In my anger and fear I shouted and caused the same heartbreaking reaction in her. I feel terrible about it and never want to lose it like that again, but I might and that’s okay. Continue cultivating all the calm, loving reactions that you can muster and each time you lose it will matter less and less.

    • Thank you Lindsay. Sometimes I feel like my anger is justified – I am, after all, not a saint. But sometimes I feel like it is really disproportionate to whatever action has occurred. Especially when it’s unintentional or accidental. Onward and upward. <3

  • Mark Davis

    Hey Mandy! I’m no professional or anything, but I do believe he is still to young to remember. Ofcourse he’s going to be upset now, but I wouldn’t think it will be a long term thing. There’s times that it’s going to happen and ofcourse you are going to feel bad afterwards. The same thing happens with me and my son who is two and a half. I tend to yell sometimes when I really don’t mean too. But I then hug him and apologize just as you did. I know I had a bad childhood growing up, but I only remember bits and pieces for here and there. But there’s nothing that I can remember from that age. Don’t really know where I’m going with this, other then that I think he will be fine. You seem to have an amazing family. You do so much with and for them as a mother, they shouldn’t feel anything other then lucky to have you! 🙂

    • That’s a really good point, Mark. I think about it a lot! I think, sometimes, I excuse some behavior that I know better than, thinking “at least they won’t remember this”… the problem for me is that I think I continue to carry this beyond when they CAN remember. My six year old will remember this stuff for sure. I think my four year old is on the cusp of remembering stuff. I want them to remember lovely stuff more than anything else. I’m trying for that. <3