I write posts like the last one for two main reasons. First, I get a lot of great parenting ideas from blogs I read, and I figure if I have a decent idea I should pay it forward and share it with others. Second, if I write it down then I’m less likely to forget about it.

It’s ironic (or is it?! I’m always fuzzy on the definition of irony, thanks to Alanis Morissette) that the day after writing a post about how much easier our lives could be if I just remember to be more playful, I am writing a post about how my parenting report card today would be stamped with a great big FAIL.

Today I lost my temper at Annalie over something kind of stupid. She threw a fit over having to leave the house for dinner, then got mad because she had to put on long pants (a fight I have with her EVERY SINGLE DAY, every time we need to leave the house, oh my goodness does this kid ever need to live in Southern California). Then it went even further downhill, probably largely because she was hungry, which was why we were leaving the house to get some dinner.

I was hungry too, and I have the same tendency to be 300% more irritated by life when I’m hungry, so it took a lot of effort for me to stay calm. But by golly, I did. I spent 20 minutes patiently, calmly talking to Annalie. I reminded her she was hungry. I pointed out that 45F isn’t warm enough to go outside in a skirt and tank top. She was not entirely happy but had simmered down and even put on tights and was ready to leave.

And then she changed her mind. I don’t even know exactly what it was, but something set her back to square one and she told me, in that hmmph-so-there voice that is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me, that she wasn’t leaving the house ever again and I couldn’t make her. Then she laid down on her bed and grabbed the headboard like I was going to have to pry her off.

I saw red. I yelled at her. I pushed her down the hall towards Troy and stomped into my room to count to 100. I rested my forehead on the wall and took deep, shaky breaths. I listened to Annalie wailing, to Troy talking to her, to poor Elliora strapped into the infant seat, crying her head off. I hated myself just a little bit.

I pulled myself together and joined my family. I took Elliora out of the seat and comforted her. I hugged Annalie and asked her how much better she thought I felt now that I’d yelled at her. She said she didn’t know. I told her, “Not better at all. I feel worse. How do you feel?” She admitted she felt worse too. We all calmed down and talked and apologized and forgave. We went to dinner and came home and Annalie went to bed happy and serene while I laid on the couch and nursed Elliora and had a good cry.

I think what’s going on right now, mainly, is that Annalie is dealing with not having me to herself anymore. She is understandably frustrated at having to share my time, and that it often seems like the lion’s share of that is going to Elliora these days. Lately Annalie has been unusually snippy with me and angry at me. I know it’s all part of the process of learning to deal, and I’m glad she is taking it out on me and not the baby (with whom she is unfailingly gentle and loving), but it’s still trying. And today we were both hungry and I was tired and breastfeeding hormones probably played a part and just arrrrrgggghhhh.

On top of that, school has been challenging. I’ve been trying hard for the last month to get back into a routine with school, and Annalie is fighting me every step of the way. For every hour of school we do, I spend easily another hour convincing her. It’s exhausting.

Part of me thinks it’s no big deal. She is in first grade; putting the curriculum on hold and unschooling for another month or so won’t hurt her. We still read books every day, and she reads and writes plenty on her own. We talk about time and dates and prices and measurements every day, in real-life situations at the store, while cooking, while planning a trip. Now that the weather is warming up, and Elliora is a bit older and doesn’t hate the car quite as much, we can start going to the library regularly and hitting the museums again. We can keep plugging away at our year’s curriculum right through summer if we want to. We’re going to start using Time4Learning as a supplement (thanks, Yara!) and I’m hopeful that it will be a good fit for Annalie’s learning style and our needs right now.

[I am a bit apprehensive leaving the negative stuff about homeschooling in this post because I've gotten some pretty negative responses from people about this kind of thing in the past. Please know that I am not saying homeschooling is too hard for us, because I'm not; I'm saying that right now homeschooling is challenging but we are persevering because I want to teach my kids about perseverance and flexibility just as much as I want to teach them how to read and write. If I honestly thought homeschooling wasn't working for us anymore we wouldn't be doing it. It's as simple as that. And I want to be honest about our struggles because if someone else is struggling in their homeschool at least they won't read my blog under the erroneous impression that homeschooling comes easily to everyone else in the world but them.]

On top of everything else Troy’s job is crazy busy right now and he’s basically leaving for work before we get up and getting home just in time to tuck Annalie in at night. As you can imagine this is stressing all of us out for various reasons.

I’m truly okay now. I talked to Troy and my mom and Brenda and Madge. Brenda and Madge both told me that when I lose my temper at my kid, it’s an opportunity for me to help her learn how to deal with anger and angry people, and also a chance to teach her about how even her parents aren’t perfect. (Gasp! Shocking but true.) My mom and Troy both had good ideas for ways to help Annalie learn to deal with her frustration. They all reminded me that things will get easier and I know they are right. I am stretched pretty thin right now, with nursing a baby and homeschooling a first-grader and attempting to keep the house in some kind of order on days that are too cold for Annalie to play outside, and I need to be as kind to myself as I would to anyone else in this situation. So I’m trying.

Sarah commented on the last post that Annalie’s vocabulary is so good for her age that it’s easy to forget she’s just a little kid. I confess I have the same problem sometimes. Annalie is so mature and smart and empathetic in some ways, but in other ways she is still very much six-going-on-seven. I am guilty of expecting too much of her at times. Especially since Elliora was born, I think, since in comparison with a four-month-old Annalie seems impossibly grown-up. But she’s not. She’s still a kid in need of snuggles and silliness and reassurance and guidance and tons of patience and understanding and love. Though really, what adult doesn’t need those things too?

Tomorrow is another day. It might bring more temper tantrums, it might not. Either way, we’ll handle it and I will attempt to remain calm and remember that we’re all doing the best we can under the circumstances, knowing it will get easier eventually. Or I’ll get stronger in the process. Probably both.

How are you today?

23 Responses to “another day, another temper tantrum”

  1. leslie says:

    we had friends over for dinner tonight, and they’re expecting no.1
    our kids were perfect, well behaved, gentle with the mommy’s-to-be-tummy, and so on…
    throughout the night we talked about the hard parts, when things go awfully wrong, when kids throw tempers when you JUST DON’T NEED IT….our friends were actually surprised when we told them how incredible hard it is to stay calm, to NOT yell and to handle the situation like “an adult”!
    i still continued to be honest with them, becaus all these things are the REAL life. we’re not perfect at all and i learned that children can actually handle our failures!

    thanks for being honest!
    and i too think that homeschooling should not be too stressfull when you’re still in the adjusting-to-a- new-baby-phase! it took us a year to be back on track!

    have a great sunday!

  2. Kuky says:

    I’m sorry you’re having it so rough right now. Isabelle went through a little phase when we brought nathan home. It gets better. And I hear you with the homeschooling. It can be very challenging at times. So challenging that some days we just don’t do it. I don’t get hung up on it though. Since we started late in the year, we’ll be going into summer, definitely. No big deal, just one of the perks, schooling on my terms. :)

  3. LaurenC says:

    From the time I have spent with you, I know how much of an amazing mum you are. You are one of the people I look up to and learn from in the hope that when motherhood finally comes my way, that I will be able to deal with it as well as you do.

    I can’t say I understand how all this must feel, because, with no children I really have no clue. But I do know that we all have days where we wish do-overs were a real thing.

    You take those do-over type of days, and you learn from them, you also teach me a thing or ten. I admire you, and want you to know that if I could be half as good a mum as you are, I would be one very happy woman.

  4. Lauren H says:

    not being a mother myself, i am in awe of everything that you (and all other mothers) do and how you deal with these things. i’m not sure i would be able to cope with such situations with your patience and optimism.
    it’s is Mothering Sunday today in the UK, so big hugs to you and all the other mothers out there for doing such a fab job :)

  5. Joe says:

    Great couple of posts Bethany. Sounds like you handled the situation as well as could be expected, and you really should be giving yourself more credit for that. Keep it up. ;)

  6. Mim says:

    You are a great mom, but even great moms have tough days. As a public school teacher who thinks home-schooling is great when done well, I KNOW you are doing a wonderful job with Annalie. I would definitely not worry about getting back on the schedule and un-school for awhile. Too many kids (both home and public schooled) do not know the wonder of the real world. Annalie knows that learning can and does take place anywhere.

    PS- When my son complains about wearing long pants outside when it’s cold, I let him. He must wear a coat though. When he complains about his legs being cold, I remind him it was his choice. Sometimes he tries it with shorts and other times he changes because he knows it will be too cold for him. She might feel cold but she won’t get sick just from feeling cold.

  7. JennyBean says:

    I’ve never even met you and I know you’re an awesome mum. (In fact, sometimes while reading blogs like yours and Brenda’s, I often feel like I should be taking notes for when I have kids of my own a few years down the line!)

    One of the things I appreciate most about your parenting posts is your transparency. You don’t pretend like everything is always grand; I really appreciate that and it makes me feel like one day I’ll be able to be a good mum too, and I don’t even have to be superhuman. I can just be normal and have bad days, and still be a good mum and raise great kids.

    I’m sorry you had a bad day and while my practical experience of these things is very limited, it sounds like you’ve got a lot on your plate and I suspect you actually deal with things better than a lot of people would. Its great that you and Annalie have the kind of relationship where you can smooth things over so well after a mutual meltdown.

    I hope you feel better soon. You’ve got a lot of balls to juggle right now and it takes time to find that balance, but God gives us strength and wisdom for such things and eventually you’ll find your rhythm. :)

  8. Mrs. Wilson says:

    It sounds as though you need a big box of Aeros sent to you. It’s a good thing I picked up a bunch this week! Now to get to the post office … (And some Smarties too.) :-)

    I had a hating-myself kind of day yesterday as well and also had a good long cry. Pregnancy hormones, almost-excruciating non-labor-related pain in my hips and pelvis, frustration over the girls not getting along, a bad depression day, and miscommunication with Noah. It was a GOOD TIME.

    I’m glad you write about the bad days too, although I’m sorry that you have to have them. :-( Parenting sure is a ride, isn’t it?

  9. s says:

    give yourself and Annalie a break – adjusting to a newborn, whether the 1st, 2nd or so on, is hard for all – I find I lose my temper the most when I feel like I’m stretched thin and meeting no one’s needs, including my own. My youngest is learning about “big deals, little deals” right now in school and I need that lesson – if its a “little deal” (which lets face it MOST things are), then let it go.

    Maybe to resolve the clothes issue, you can have Annalie check the temperature if you have one of those readable indoor/outdoor displays and you can set a temp that she can make any choice vs a temp that says long pants are in order – that way its not you telling her, its the temp outside, with some caveat that rain, wind make mom and dad’s words override the display.

    And schooling can hold – I don’t homeschool, but I’ve always found that there are certain times when school does need to take a backseat or maybe the “shape” of your day or week changes. Maybe you do the hour of school after dinner or split it in 2 30 min pieces so it doesn’t feel like such a struggle. I don’t know – I think you sound like a great mom – you’ll work through it but be sure to give yourself a break.

  10. robin says:

    We all mess up. What I think is awesome is that after you yelled at her, you talked to her and apologized. It’s so important for us to apologize to our kids when we mess up. So many parents don’t do it! It teaches our kids how to make amends when they mess up. It teaches them that everyone fails sometimes. It teaches them how to forgive. Very, very valuable lessons.

  11. Liberty says:

    I don’t post comments too often on blogs, however your post struck me. I have a thirteen month old and an almost 6 year old – similar age difference between children. From reading your blog I get the impression your daughter and my daughter are very similar – they were with adults a majority of their life. They have large, strong vocabularies and quiet smart for their little beings already. And, yes… that is easily forgotten as a mom when dealing with a little one that seems much older in so many ways than they are.

    We had a huge adjustment period after my son was born – she was good the first couple months and then I noticed more sadness. And, I think you hit it on the nose ‘she had to share me’ and for so long it was just the three of us, but no more. It was as struggle for certain, I almost think harder on me than her to be honest.

    My point is don’t beat yourself up over it or be sad. I think it is part of changing as a family and still adjusting (heck I still feel like we are adjusting some days :) ) But, it is hard. Things have become easier over time. I do commend your for bfeeding still – I barely made it to six months… it was just too hard this second time around balancing life, homeschooling, outings, two kids, the house, etc. For me, it was hard!

    As for homeschooling — it can wait. Unschool like you said for a while she will be fine! Heck, extend Spring Break :) That to me is the JOY of homeschooling… flexibility!!! I think we get caught up on the traditional schedule, when reality is – you can do it when you want, as long as you want, weekends/weekdays, etc. You don’t have to be traditional with it. Maybe this year is partime yet a year round deall?

    Anyhow, hoping things get better! I feel for you, I really do – I get it and feel the frusterations and sadness. ((hugs)) from this stranger in the PNW!!!

  12. You handled it far better than I would have. My youngest just turned 7 and she’s also of the mind that it’s never too cold for flip-flops, skirts, and short-sleeved shirts. I figure she’s old enough to make the decision and suffer the consequences if the weather isn’t too extreme. I’ll tell her that it’s cold and it would be a good idea to change into something warmer, but the most I make her do now is carry a jacket. I’ve learned that she really is very warm-natured and cold doesn’t seem to bother her and she’s learned that sometimes mama is right and she has no right to whine if she made the wrong choice. I figure it’s a little bit of unschooling in decision-making ;-)

    I also understand not wanting to say anything negative publicly about homeschooling as it tends to open yourself up for people’s negative comments or “I told you so’s” or trying to persuade you that what you NEED to do is just send those kids to school and that will solve all your problems. It’s the same with adoption. I am so very grateful for my homeschooling and adoptive friends where we can talk about the hard things and the hard days without fear of judgement.

  13. Madge says:

    Ahhhh, as we discussed yesterday, it always gets better. I was thinking about your last post and how everything escalated to where it did. I don’t know about you but when my kids are disrespectful I lose it a lot more quickly than if they just made a bad decision or a mistake that led to a bad result. I think that is a huge hot button for me and something that I need to work on.

    One of the reasons that I do not homeschool CB is that I know every day would be struggle. She loves school. She is very good at coming home and doing her homework. She’s a great student. For whatever reason, she doubts most all of my input when it comes to me helping her with schoolwork. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to convince her that I actually know what I’m talking about. I’m not implying that your situation is the same, just that I’m very familiar with that struggle and I empathize! Luckily, a few years ago, I read a book about her personality type and I don’t take her assessment of my education skills to heart, :P

    I like that you share all sides of the homeschooling experience. I’d be very tempted to try to homeschool Pixie or Sprite, if they didn’t show such a desire to go to school themselves.

  14. Yara says:

    I’m hitting print right now, and gonna frame this on my wall as a reminder that we all have good days & bad… and a reminder that even though Lisa is older, she is still *only* eight, and twenty minutes ago she was a baby. Sigh.

    I hope Annalie enjoys T4L as much as Lx2 do : )

    I wasn’t gonna mention how I came home this evening, tired & hungry, trying to fight off what I fear might be a cold or sinus infection; and sent my kids to bed when they were clearly not tired. All because I was annoyed that I have no idea where the closet place to get Thai food is… and maybe a little bit because my boxes had not magically unpacked themselves yet…
    I hope this week is better for both of us.

  15. racheal says:

    Oh, I just want to give you a big big big hug. It gets better, and you are such an inspiration. Remember, you are always stronger than you think you are but more than that, you are exactly where you need to be and you have what it takes to get through this.

    Remember, God doesn’t give you more than you can handle and right now, God thinks you’re a rockstar.

    It sucks, and I’m sorry it’s hard.

    Big big big big hugs.

  16. Katie says:

    What a great post! I feel like my children really learn something when I take the time to apologize for my mistakes too. You are such a great example and a great mom, thanks for sharing your experiences.

  17. Leta says:

    My oldest turned four two weeks after my second baby was born. I remember the frustration of those days so clearly, even though it was almost three years ago. I remember all three of us sitting together on the couch crying. My oldest was quite challenging for a couple of months after the baby was born, and even now the cry of “It’s not fair!” will still rear its head now and then. Change is hard, even when its a wonderful change. Thank you for sharing the difficult moments with us, as well as the easy ones.

  18. BeachMama says:

    Can I say that I feel your pain even thought my Daughter is 3 and not in school. And I don’t have a newborn and J is in school full-time. I had one of those days today. I had to raise my voice three times because the nice kind voice saying ‘no’ wasn’t getting through. The argument for everything and thinking that saying please will change my mind is getting very frustrating for me. I know it will get better and i need to learn to deal and distract more. My business is getting busier and Apple isn’t napping anymore so I need to figure out how to work, be a Mom and keep the house in order in a whole new way right now.

    Annalie’s vocabulary and writing skills are amazing, I know she is ahead of her curve in our school system so I imagine she is in yours as well.

  19. karen says:

    Let Annalie wear the shorts and tank top! Strongly suggest she bring a nice, warm jacket along…but let her leave it at home if she insists. Ross was about the same age when he flat-out refused to wear a jacket to dinner in March, in NJ. On the way out, it was ok – sun up, probably 50′s…bearable in shorts and a t-shirt. On the way home, however, he shivered and shook and I stopped him cold from whining about HIS CHOICE and flat-out refused to give him MY jacket (we did put the heat on in the car, because we love him…). Since then? He still chooses to wear shorts in weather let when I think a parka is a more appropriate choice, but I know that he understands the choice he’s making and I respect his right to make the choice. I hope I can always find the strength to let him make different choices than mine…I doubt they get easier than letting him freeze his knees!

  20. I hate it when I lose my temper with my kids. It makes me feel awful. But, none of us is perfect, and as long as we are trying to do better, we will.

  21. Ashley says:

    Oh man! As much as I love the days like the one in the previous posts, I loath the days like this one today. They are hard, it sucks as a Mom would loves her kids with every breath she takes to feel like you hurt their feelings. To feel like you failed – I hope you know you didn’t. Something my Mom said to me the last time I yelled at my Bethany and then sat and bawled about it is this – “She made and mistake that’s what made you made right? Disobedience, s a mistake. Would you ever tell her she’s a failure?” Of course my answer was a resounding NEVER! And she said too me, “And yelling at her? That was a mistake too right….” BING light on. So I sat with my Bethany and told her just that, that I made a mistake and I was sorry! I told her that while her disobedience hurt me, my angry voice hurt me more. Because she and her sister are the most precious people to me and I never, ever wanted to hurt them. And I know it can hurt them because when people yell at me it hurts.

    I hope she took a lesson from that moment, she’s 4 so the lesson is yet to be seen. But I sure did learn one,mostly I think I learned that if it were for imperfect moments my children would never have the chance to learn understanding, patience, and humility. Because the best place to learn those things is through watching me.

    Tomorrow will be better for you I’m sure!

    Home School sidenote – what made you guys decide to homeschool? We have talked about it for our kids but aren’t sure and so we’re gathering all sorts of information from everyone.

  22. KA says:

    Hi Bethany – big relief to hear about someone in the world who actually occasionally feels a bit irritated with their beloved kid… There was I thinking it was just me. Thank you.

  23. [...] Annalie is extremely glad spring is here at last and tells me at least once a day that spring is her FAVORITE season. She spends a lot of time outside these days, wearing whatever she wants. [...]