Losing IT

Sometimes I’m a great mom, times like yesterday morning and afternoon when I walked all over town taking Wanda to the park and the library for story time. Then every once in a while I snap and it’s not pretty. It’s not even homely. It’s bad.

We’ve been stressing out, maybe too much, about where Laylee would take ballet this year. She’s nine and she loves to dance and there are altogether too many things to consider when raising a kid. How do we encourage her passion for dance without pigeon-holing her and cutting her off from all other activities? How will she know if dance is the only activity she loves if it’s the first activity she’s ever kissed? How much is too much?

So, we decided to slow down from her dance school’s 4-hour per week class recommendation and move her to a school in the next town over that offers a slower road to pointe. It was a tough decision and I’m not sure if it’s right, but my head was exploding so I just cried Uncle and paid the registration fee.

But we’re both nervous to try a new place. Will she like it? Will they like us? Will she be challenged enough but still able to have a life outside of dance?

So yesterday, the first day at the new studio, she didn’t get off the bus at her stop. We had to search the bus and drag her out and she came off the bus late and sobbing. SOBBING. Apparently the book she was reading was way sadder than a book should ever be.

“And it just ends like that,” she sobbed, “That’s it. There’s no sequel. It can’t get happy because it’s just over. The end. This is a bad, bad book mom. It started out sad and then got as good as a book can possibly get and then got as bad as a book can possibly get.”

The characters were so real to her and she couldn’t handle the emotion and the betrayal. She was nearly inconsolable and, as an insanely easy crier, I was extremely proud. Her reaction showed compassion and sensitivity and, oh crap, we were gonna be late for our first day of ballet.

So, I drove her home, got her dressed, arranged her hair into a perfect ballet bun, (Doesn’t it feel like that should be spelled B-U-N-N-E?) and told her to grab her shoes. She’d worn her ballet shoes off and on all summer as she stretched and practiced.

“Grab them,” I said.

Blank stare, followed by grimace.

“Are they lost?”


“Look for them.”

Ten minutes later, she informed me that they were really, for real, very truly lost and… oh well.

And. Then. I. Snapped.

She lost her shoes and I lost it. It was nowhere to be found.

We had 2 minutes until we needed to be in the car driving if we wanted to be on time and I started tearing around her room, searching. And she just stared at me. As soon as I was on the case, she gave up. And I lost it a little more.

With her standing there watching, I dumped out her drawers, and her laundry basket and all the one thousand little purses full of nothing that were stashed all over her room. It turned into a full-on tantrum. The shoes! The SHOES! Where were the ever-loving SHOOOOOES! I yanked all the bedding and books and stuffed animals and reading lights and grocery items and 4th grade necessities from her bed while she bawled her eyes out.

I couldn’t stop and I couldn’t calm down.

And I was horrified with myself for acting like a bratty toddler.

But it was like I was outside myself looking in and thinking, STOP, but I couldn’t.

We left shoeless and we still can’t find them. I knew she was devestated on the drive, but still I lectured her. She went to her first class crying.

I can count on one hand the number of times in my life that I was doing something and I could tell it made someone feel small and I did it anyway. I hate those times. I want to yank them from the record and start fresh.

But my apology can’t erase this one, the time I forgot who I was because… shoes. Laylee will remember this. She may talk about it at family reunions or tell her kids. I hope that when she does, she will add in the part about how I apologized and maybe how she learned that being a grown-up doesn’t mean being perfect. It means putting the room back together better than it was before while talking about our lives and giving periodic hugs. Being a grown-up means knowing when you’re wrong, feeling utterly crappy about it, fixing it as best you can and doing better.

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14 Responses to Losing IT

  1. Sarah says:

    Oh, I had that moment last night over a bookmark. He wanted to find the bookmark, I wanted to just put a piece of paper in and turn off the light. Nothing worse than finding yourself fighting with a 6 year old. I stepped aside, took a deep breath, felt awful, decided I had destroyed his newly found love of reading independently. I took another deep breath and went in to apologize for wanting him to do things my way and getting upset over it when he would not.

  2. Nancy R says:

    Yesterday I had one of those moments too. Reading about your makes me feel more human.

  3. Jen says:

    You so need to add a ‘like’ or a ‘been there’ button. Sadly I’ve done this more than once and each time have hated myself for doing it. I don’t want my kids to remember that part of me.

  4. Jessica says:

    We all lose “it” at some point. It’s part of being human. I specifically remember my mom losing “it” when I was in 5th or 6th grade. And I remember her coming to my room (after being sent there for something) and apologizing to me. I told her it was okay and she said that it wasn’t ok. That her behavior was not okay. To this day (20+ years later) I remember that day. It made me see my mom as a person, not just a mom and helped me to respect her better. I try to apologize to my kids when I lose it specifically because my mom did to me.

  5. Pam in Utah says:

    Amen to the last paragraph. Sorry about the experience. Twould be nice if we could see ahead, and behind, and cut out the “loosing it” moments. Or at least handle it like you did! Loveya

  6. Emily G says:

    I agree with Jessica, except it was my dad. We all knew he had a short fuse at times. With six kids I’m surprised it wasn’t every minute of the day. But what I remember most looking back on things is he always apologized, always took responsibility, and that we could work things out. I think it taught my siblings and I a lot about problem-solving. But as much as I say that to myself I hate it when I loose it too.

  7. Heffalump says:

    I have had those kinds of moments over church shoes, and many other things.
    So, was she reading Bridge to Terabithia? Because that is how I felt about that book.

    • It was “Out of My Mind” by Sharon M. Draper. But when she was bawling, I totally went to Terabithia in my head. I’ll be saving that one for a time when she’s not quite so enraged about how this book made her feel.

  8. Elisabeth says:

    Thank You! Thank You so much for posting this. I had one of those moments too. My son was running late for soccer practice and I lost it. I lectured him the entire way there. poor kid couldn’t do anything but just sit there. While I was having my tantrum, there was the voice in my head that told me to stop!!!! Did I? no! kept on going. The voice even said, this is not the way to endear your child to you…. I felt horrible. I mean, here was the love of my life and I was livid because he was 3 minutes late for soccer practice!!! I mean in the grand scheme of things is that going to make a difference.. Of course, I said sorry to my son but I felt sooo small. Not because I was apologizing to my 11 year old but because I was acting younger than him.. I hope he realizes that mom is just mom— a human being just like him.

  9. Ruth Hyland says:

    apparently i’ve done this enough the kids kind of tune me out and i overhear them later laughing about mom losing it. I even had my 13 year old son ask if i was on my period. course my 4 year old hasn’t been desensitized yet and he is devastated everytime. always makes me feel like crap later. in some ways i think it is good because it keeps me trying harder and puts things back in perspective. i think it would suck if our parents were perfect, who wants to try to live up to that.

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