M came out of the bedroom where he’d been napping, sat on the couch, and said “What if you went to the beach without me?” Such an innocuous comment, no wonder he was taken aback when I went ballistic. In my defense neither girl had napped meaning that we had come home just so he could nap, and if he wasn’t coming to the beach anyway then the entire hour we’d spent at the house had been a waste of perfectly good beach and family time.
And so I got mad. And the more he tried to understand my ire the more upset I got. I raised my voice louder and louder until I was outright yelling. I hoisted Little L onto my hip and turned to C.
“Put. Your. Shoes. On. Now! We’re. Leaving.” I grabbed her hand and headed to the door, my rage was fueled by all the stress of keeping everyone entertained and content which was riding on very little sleep, a bad case of PMS, and concern for my husband’s injured neck.
My hand on the door, I turned and yelled some more for good measure. Something absurd and pointless I’m sure. Empty words forgotten the instant they left my lips. Then, at a loss for more things to holler, but most definitely not yet out of steam I stormed out of the house, frightened baby on my hip and subdued preschooler by my side.
As we walked to the car C said softly “Don’t yell at my daddy. He’s my best friend and I don’t like when you yell at my friend.”
Her words sucked the wind right out of my sails, leaving me feeling silly and ashamed for my outburst. Nothing he’d done had warranted the level of anger that had just spewed forth, and even if he’d done something terrible, nothing warranted getting that angry in front of the children.
“Why are you so angry mommy? What did daddy do?” C asked softly, and I had nothing to say.
“Mommy is just really, really grumpy.” I finally answered as I buckled her into her car seat. “I shouldn’t have gotten so mad.”
“No.” She replied wisely.
“I should go say I’m sorry, shouldn’t I?”
“When we do something that makes people sad or makes them feel bad we say sorry.” Hearing my words thrown back at me, words I’d only spoken to her the day before, made me even more contrite.
“I’m going to go say I’m sorry. You and Little L stay put for a second, OK? I’m sorry I got so mad in front of you. I didn’t mean to make you sad. I won’t do it again.” I kissed her tiny nose and head hung low I headed back to the house. I opened the door and called “I’m sorry,” up the stairs.
A more rational conversation later, where I tried to put my angst into words rather than volume, we were OK again. M came to the beach for a short moment and I felt much calmer after having gotten everything off my chest. As for the girls, seeing us hold hands in the car went a long way towards soothing any upset that I had caused. But as I glanced back at them in the rear view mirror I remembered, not for the first time, that everything I do impacts so much more than just me, and the weight of that responsibility felt heavy on my shoulders.