I have a little secret. Sometimes I think I’m a terrible mother. This morning I kind of lost it. I yelled. And screamed. At Aryeh. Who is two years old. Granted, he was being incredibly annoying, frustrating, and difficult. And baby Yaakov was crying hysterically at the same time. And it was raining. And it was Friday. And I was woken up way too many times last night. But still, impetuous as he may be, he’s only two years old. Clearly I’m a monster.
After I finished my out of control grown up temper tantrum I freaked out. With the fiery energy of anger still coursing through my veins I wanted to run, scream, and throw something large and unwieldy. How could I do this? What’s wrong with me?
After regaining my composure enough to dial a phone number (which of course only involved pressing one key thanks to blackberry’s full keyboard of speed dials) I called my sister whose generally known for good advice and ego massaging.
She reassured me that yelling at your kids is a perfectly normal part of motherhood. That contrary to what I felt, having myself institutionalized or shot up with an anti yelling iv were not the answers. That everyone has a breaking point and while some are higher than others, we all break.
Which made me remember that just yesterday my neighbor who always seems calm told me she completely lost it at her five year old. And that I’ve seen another friend of mine yell and threaten her beloved offspring. And that most of the time I’m a pretty warm, patient, loving mother.
It also made me remember something my psychology professor told us on the first day of psych 101 about how we make judgments. She told us to picture a tall heavyset man with a wicked glint in his eye walking toward us in a dark alleyway. She had us imagine our reaction as he walked toward us. And then she told us that as he came closer, we would notice a pin on his shirt that said Gap, labeling him as an employee at a Gap store. And suddenly, we weren’t afraid. He became familiar, someone we would nod and say hello to.
And somehow knowing that its familiar, that its normal to lose it every now and then, makes me think maybe I’m not a monster. Maybe I’m just the ordinary guy who works in the gap, the guy who seemed scary only until we labeled him.
But maybe working in the Gap doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of evil. Maybe I really am a monster. Maybe we all are.