“Get your hand off that toy RIGHT NOW!” I growl catching C whose hand has just landed on the stuffed pig in Little L’s lap off guard. To be fair, it’s C’s pig, but Little L is just checking it out and if it gets taken away she’ll flip.
It’s 8am. I’ve been up for all of twenty minutes and this is easily the fourth time I’ve yelled at C. Little L spent half the night up, alternating between fussing and crying out in pain. I tried rocking her back to sleep, bringing her into bed with us, and finally cuddling with her on the couch. We slept fitfully until morning and I’m exhausted. Every tiny infraction feels fingernails on the blackboard to my fried nerves.
C looks up at me face awash in tears and I feel terrible, but I just don’t have it in me to either apologize or give in.
“What have I told you about taking things from the baby?”
“I dunno.” She mumbles through her tears.
“What are you supposed to do before you take something away from her?” I bark. She doesn’t even answer this time, just looks at me with her big eyes and quivering lip.
“You have to give her something else first. Right?” C nods her head sending tears dripping to her lap. She grabs another stuffed animal and shoves it at Little L, but she hesitates before taking the pig to see if I’m going to yell again.
I’m so tired my head is throbbing and my eyes feel gritty. I know it’s dumb to be so upset, but I can’t shake the irritation. I dig deep and manage to mumble a thank you and turn my attention to my email. I need to know what time a certain phone meeting is taking place. I’m on the fence about what to do after I drop the kids off at daycare. Do I go back to bed or go to a Boot Camp class?
More squabbling interrupts my contemplation. This time I don’t even look up to see what they’re fighting over I just yell at them to stop, feeling guilty even as I raise my voice. They instantly stop, scared by angry mommy. I want to stop. I want to smile and laugh with them, but I’m trapped in my bad mood and they’re in the line of fire.
As the morning progresses I brush C’s hair a bit too roughly, I put Little L in timeout twice for pounding on my keyboard, and I get even further mired in frustration and resentment. The second time I put Little L in time out I realize I’m completely out of control and I head to the bedroom to pull on some sweats and collect myself. I pull on my second sneaker and take a few deep breaths, then I go back out to the living room and apologize to the kids for being such a grumpy mommy.
Both of them rush towards me anxious to get a comforting touch. I let them pile onto me despite the fact that my exhaustion is making me overly sensitive. They jostle each other to get the best spot and I hug them tight, feeling even more guilty that they aren’t holding grudges about my crappy attitude. A few more hugs and kisses and I pry little hands from my neck despite loud protests. I’m still completely fried and I need to get them out of the house before I snap again. Plus, Boot Camp is about to start and I don’t want to miss the beginning of my punishment.