Some Days…




"Bad days" in our house are rare. An anomaly in a long string of happiness. Most days around here are built on some combination of harmony, magic, laughter, and light.

Others days, however, are not.

Yesterday was the latter. It started out hard and went rapidly down hill. Like an elephant on rollerskates. I guess that's how the big lessons come. Fast and loud and something you simply can't ignore.

The day began with lots of (emotional, child-sized) interruptions while I was trying to work (and Pete was trying in earnest to parent) and kept unraveling from there. By 4 PM I was hiding in the basement with a coffee cup packed with ice cream and chocolate chips, pretending to do laundry. (When you consider that my five year old frequently follows me through the house, pulling this off was no small feat.)

No, yesterday was not my shining moment of motherhood. I yelled. I actually yelled – something I almost never do, and then I did it again, and then again, and again. I totally lost it. And for whatever reason, all of my non-violent parenting tricks flew rapidly out the window at the crucial moments when I could have (and indeed knew how to) turned it all around.

In hindsight the whole mess was rather ridiculous and was over some house cleaning nonsense that at the time seemed vital to my survival. (Clearly it was vital to my sanity, but not because it was actually important. I was just being stubborn.) I just made it into something bigger than it was because I was feeling stressed and overwhelmed by other things. And that took a lot of reflection to realize.

Yes, there is a lot on our plate right now. We're working on selling our house and buying some land and building a cabin to live in and… well, making some major life changes. And while this is all good stress, it is stress just the same. And somehow the momentum of all of the simplification I did this weekend left me expecting more from my five year old than she could possibly deliver. And I lost it. And that wasn't nice.

I could have gone to the place of being silly and playful to get her to join in the work, but I didn't. I could have made a game or a race out of it so that work became play, but I didn't. I could have talked to her about how frustrated I was feeling (I did) and then worked together with my girl to find a solution that worked for us both (but I didn't). 

I'm sharing this because I want you to know that things here are not always perfect. Days like this I never forget because they are ugly and unusual, but yes, I still have them on occasion.

Sometimes as parents we come unhinged – each in our own way, but it happens. And then what? And then we apologize. We pull it together. We hug and kiss and acknowledge that grown ups are human too. That mama just had a little tantrum of her own. And we look for a better way to do it next time. We connect and do our best to heal what we hurt. And we forgive ourselves for being human and get on with doing better tomorrow.

That is the mission that I'm on today. To find my higher self and parent from a place of love, not stress. Because yesterday's option felt good to no one. Not even me. Especially not me.

As for a better way to convince my five year old to clean her room – even with lots of help – next time? I'm not sure what that is. But yesterday will serve as a great example of what didn't work for anyone.

Today I'll remember to lead with love.


30 thoughts on “Some Days…

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for being so honest. Times when I do not parent the way I want to hurts my heart so badly. I have to be kind to myself too sometimes. I have to forgive myself, give myself a break not to escape but to recharge and get back in the mix.

    This thing called parenting is messy sometimes.

  2. Anne says:

    Sending you hugs. We all have days when our behaviour/feelings aren’t as we wish them to be. I think it’s good for our children to see that even parents have bad days, get frustrated, and need a bit of space to cool down. Here’s to a long string of good days!

  3. KC says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. This makes me feel better knowing some one else loses it everyone and a while too. It’s kind of like seeing someone elses toddler have a full blown tantrum. You feel better knowing your not alone.

    The good thing is you are forgiven. Children so good in that way. 🙂 Have some more ice cream and chocolate chips and play today!

  4. Dark Blue Dragon says:

    I had this kind of a day about a month ago. I stood in my kitchen yelling and crying at the same time. My hubby picked up the boys took them out for the day and gave me time to re group. Sometimes we just need space to work through whatever it is that triggers it. When they can home, I apologized, hugged and kissed them and moved on. I think it is good for them to see us struggle as well. We are human, and they are learning from us. It is good for them to see us fail and then how we rebuild.
    I hope today you grow and find peace again in the house. Thank you for sharing and for your honesty.

  5. Kristin says:

    I’m coming out of lurkdom to say that I hope that you have a much better day today. It happens to everyone- so go easy on yourself. Kids are wonderful forgivers.

  6. Jenn says:

    Hugs, Rachel. I have more of these days than I’d care to admit, but admitting them is a powerful thing. We’ve just been through the house selling process, and I know first hand how stressful it is. Wishing you peace, and a speedy resolution to all!

  7. Emily says:

    Thank you for sharing. I sent the kids outside yesterday and was eating the chocolate chips I set aside for baking. I didn’t loose it yesterday but I’ve been there. Today is a new day! Have a good one.

  8. Alyssa says:

    It is always so refreshing to read about reality in this sea of pretty and perfect (not your blog specifically, but the whole blogging world). I just had one of those over-tired and moody mornings that I know how to prevent but didn’t. It’s good to be reminded that we can choose a different path, but that there will always be bumps and that’s okay. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Renee says:

    Thanks for sharing. We have these days around here too — my friend likens them to an out-of-body experience, since the rational mama is often able to look at herself in those moments and know she is being silly, but she continues anyway. My newly 3-yo has been exploring boundaries lately, and sometimes I deal with these with grace, and other times — usually late in the day when I’m tired, too — I’m not at my best. To put it mildly.

    But I agree that it is important to apologize, and show them the same respect we would give to any adult. I refer to them as “mama tantrums” too, to show that I’m just like them in some ways 🙂

  10. Rachel Wolf says:

    Yes. I rarely want or need a break. But I took one yesterday and it was great. I went rhubarb picking and nettle foraging and watercress foraging. Alone. Then I sat by the creek in silence for a while and let it all wash away. Taking time for self is key, isn’t it?

  11. Rachel Wolf says:

    Yes. Kids are generous with forgiveness. In the middle of the night last night Lupine rolled over and hugged me tight. “You are a sweet sweet honey pie,” she said, smiling, and kissed my cheek. We both fell asleep in a big lovey hug. Yes. I think I’m forgiven. <3

  12. Amanda says:

    I read your blog faithfully, but don’t think I have ever left a comment. I just felt the need today. There must be something in the air. Last week was so rough for me and my (almost) 3 year old. I, too, yelled. More than once. And I felt so sorry for doing it, but she was just so… unruly that I was at the end of my rope. Another friend of mine had the same kind of week. It got to the point where we actually left our 2 year olds with their daddies so that we (and my 5 month old) could spend some mama time alone. I have NEVER done that. Which means I was at the end of my rope.

    All this to say, I understand. Obviously we all go through these moments and days. Just so you know, I will be thinking of you. And sending you thoughts for easier days and easier mama moments. 🙂

  13. Tameka says:

    I totally hear you. I have those days too, especially when I’m tired and need time to myself. But like you said, “… we forgive ourselves for being human and get on with doing better tomorrow…yesterday will serve as a great example of what didn’t work for anyone. Today I’ll remember to lead with love.” That is what’s important. As usual, thanks for your honesty. When you figure out a way to get your 5 year old to clean her room, please let us know, I can definitely use help on that one. Also, that coffee and ice cream sounds delicious.

  14. Robyn says:

    it is totally like an out of body experience, isn’t it? Whenever i lose it I find myself asking myself in my head, “what in the world are you doing?”, even as i’m yelling at my DD for something that the day before i would have handled completely differently. but i can’t seem to stop the words from coming out of my mouth.

    But she is so, sweet and forgiving. Always ready to give me the hug I need to let it go and move on. There’s a lesson there, for sure.

  15. Danielle says:

    I’m glad you shared your day. There is as much healing and help for others in sharing these moments as there is in sharing the good ones. At least for me! I am my own worst parenting critic. Always striving for a patient and loving reaction, and not gentle enough on myself when I just lose it. Thank you!

  16. Kim says:

    Your honesty in the post is beautiful, thank you. I, too, had a day like that yesterday. It was tough and even though I could see it unraveling I couldn’t stop it, it just kept going. I am truly grateful for days like that though because they show my little man that I am human, I do make mistakes, I can own up to them and move on. All really great lessons, I do hope though not to teach them to him again anytime soon 🙂

  17. KC says:

    After reading all these comments, I just thought of something. Coming un raveled with such intensity sometime can be good for us all. To give us perspective on what it is like to be two or five or ten again and not have good control over your emotions. I read that when tantrums occur and you can’t talk a child out of it that what is happening is the reasoning part of the brain shuts down and it reverts back to the primitive brain. That’s why toddler seem like crazy cave men sometimes.

    Adults too do the same thing. We just have the ability to push guilt on ourselves about it afterwards. But we can also learn from it.

  18. Rachel Wolf says:

    Amazing. I think the mamas (like you or like me) who almost never feel compelled to “take a break” have a hard time explaining what a big moment that is. And yes, I took a break that evening too.

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