Friday, February 23, 2007

Bless me Father, for I have sinned... (again)

Within the past few days, there has been a flurry of e-mails on my triplet parenting board regarding discipline. Some members think that instilling a bit of "fear" in to your child is healthy (in the form of yelling or spanking), whereas other members have commented that the yelling or spanking they received as a child, has adversely affected the relationship that they have with their parents, as an adult.

I hesitated sending a response in to this hot topic, but I finally decided that I had to add my two cents. This is the e-mail I sent to my fellow triplet mothers...


In an ideal world, I would never yell at our children. I would never spank them. I would never have to worry that my uncontrollable emotional outbursts are potentially, scarring them for life. But I'm human - and it really stinks sometimes.

Recently, our toddlers favorite past time involves climbing on the kitchen table, trying to scramble on the counters ... and whenever I saw Elizabeth pulling BIG SHARP knives out of the knife block this morning, I thought I was going to die. My patience has been tried more in the past month than it has ever been tried before (I think I say that every month...?).

Today was a perfect example.

I was honestly ready to put William in a box, tape it up and stick him in the garage until Charlie came home. Don't worry - I would have given him airholes. Or, let Elizabeth do it with one of the BIG SHARP knives. Before he was in it, of course.

After the knife fiasco, I had to get out of the house, so I loaded the kids up and took them to Target. While there, I picked up this little toy that my friend Lorie, swears, helped her 2-year old daughter learn her ABC's. It's a Leap Frog magnetic letter thing-a-ma-bob that hangs on your fridge. The kids were playing with it in the cart - happy as can be. I'm doing my shopping, happy as can be. Except for when the kids threw one of the plastic (I thought non breakable) cups I had picked up for them out of the cart - it shattered all over the floor - and me, being the
responsible person that I am - kept walking - slowing down only to put back the other 7 plastic (apparently breakable) cups that will never withstand our spanish tile floor, on some random shelf in the middle of the dog food aisle.

**For the record, if I didn't have a shopping cart full of toddler triplets - I NEVER would have done that. I would have picked up the damaged cup, insisted on paying for it, and put all of the other cups back neatly where I had found them.**

We get home and William immediately starts whining "e!!" "e!!!" "e!!!" Because that happened to be the letter that was in the thing-a-ma-bob that he heard over & over & over & over (& over & over & over & over) again. So, I go to get it out of the bag and out of the plastic container that is sealed tightly enough to protect this $10.00 toy should it ever be dropped 20,000 feet to the bottom of the ocean, or launched in to deep space - and he starts to go crazy, screaming "E!!!" "E!!!!"

I'm trying desperately to open the box.

I'm trying to keep my eye on Elizabeth so she doesn't climb on the counters again.

I'm wiping Carolyn's runny nose because for the LOVE OF WINE (which I would give my right arm for a big glass of), they are sick again.

I'm organized. I'm pretty level headed. I'm in control. As far as motherhood goes, I think I've got my sh*t together pretty well. But every so often, I possess the ability to spontaneously combust. It happened about two weeks ago and I felt like a pile of dung for days. I thought it would NEVER happen again. But it did. Five minutes after returning home from Target.

The trigger? Whining. Incessant, uncontrollable whining. In my opinion, it is worse torture than fingernails on a chalk board - or having a tooth removed with a butter knife. Especially when three toddlers are doing it, simultaneously.

I turned around and started screaming at my 2-year old. Screaming I tell you, screaming. I didn't hit him on the head with the Leap Frog thing-a-ma-bob. I didn't send him in to time out, like I did last night in the corner of our small booth when we went out to dinner. I didn't put him in a box, punch airholes and tape it shut. I would have loved to have done ALL of those things - but instead I screamed at the top of my lungs.


Until a few minutes later when I saw the kids looking at me with huge saucer eyes ... William shuddering ... and Carolyn whispering to him "shhh!! shhh!!"

I love my kids, more than the world. It is impossible to believe that 3 short years ago - they didn't even exist in an embryonic stage ... and 2 years ago, they were tiny helpless infants. Now, they are toddlers and they are more adorable than I ever imagined. AND, at times, more of a headache than I ever imagined.

After today, I've resigned myself to the fact that there are going to be moments in motherhood when I'm going to CRACK like an egg. I'll always strive to do the best job I can and to keep my temper in check. But ... I sure as heck am not going to traumatize myself with the fear that I am ruining my children for life - or that they'll grow up distrusting me because I yelled at them when they were driving me crazy - or I gave them a swat on their behind when they climbed on the table for the millionth time in an hour and tried to juggle knives.

Apparently, some people have unending patience with toddlers. God Bless them.

I don't.

All I can do is hope that in the end, my children will know I love them - and they'll love me, too. I hope that they'll see the good things I've done FAR outweigh the bad. If not, they'll probably stick me in a home - and then I'll know why.


  1. Parenthood is hard. VERY HARD.
    Parents of toddlers who say they've never lost their patience with them are either lying or are raising children who walk all over them.
    I lost my temper with my children. And I(gasp)spanked my children. When I ask them now if they feel "betrayed" or "scarred" from my losing my temper or from having been spanked, they look at me as if I've grown a second head and say "uh...NO" with a perfect teenage sneer and a thought bubble that most likely says "STUPID QUESTION."
    You're doing great. Your children are not going to be scarred from your angry outbursts. Better them be a little upset now then in the ER having stitches from actually getting hold of one of those knives.

  2. The "E" says, "eh"...the "E" says, "eh"... every letter makes a sound, the "E" says, "eh"... I told you it works! Shayna is now learning the Russian alphabet, then onto Latin.... Don't get down on yourself for yelling! We only have to deal with one kid and we yell at her all the time... LOL

  3. You are not alone! We all have our "insane" moments because we are all human. Yes, some parents may take discipline to the extreme, which is a whole 'nother story, but spanking and yelling is normal. Of course, Kyle will be the one to juggle the knives while driving off in my car (since he has been cranking it for two years and he's only 4)! And in the long run your children will thank you for keeping them in line, correcting them and letting them know right from wrong....just as we have our parents! Keep up the good work my Miss American Pie.

  4. I try to save the yelling for real danger. When The Mayor ran for the busy street, I yelled like never before. I think he could sense serious anger and fear. He hasn't done it again.

  5. Oh you poor dear! I have never EVER done that! Yelling at those beautiful children! Tisk, Tisk.

    You would never EVER have seen me yelling at one of MY kids in the store even after a long day of hearing those sweet loving tears that begin to sound like an AMBULANCE SIREN.
    Nor would I EVER, never ever chase my teenager down the street in the front of our home and all of the neighbors because he talked back. I practice deep breathing techniques and count from 10 backwards and then I react calmly, patiently.

    I honestly can not imagine where you get that type of temperment. I can not remember one time when I have EVER witnesssed your Mother or EVEN my Mother lose thier tempers!

    Well maybe once...Only Once.
    Remember the time when you where about 12 years old and my Mother lost her patience? She attempted to run you over in a yellow cadillac????

    Ah the good times....
    Oh, DEAR! Those POOR Children. :-)

    Love, Marg

    PS I love the geologychick's comments she's a riot!

  6. I have twins that are 3 (I can't even begin to imagine triplets! Last year I kept another child my girls' age and had triplets 2 days a week, but at least I could send him home!) I have had days like the one you described...I think that you have a healthy outlook about it. Hang in there!

  7. Jen,
    We were spanked and yelled at as kids. And I love my mother more than anything, 40-years later. She is my best friend.
    Your kids are lucky to have you as their mommy.
    Linda (Chicago)

  8. Oh the whining! Goodness gracious, that is the worst sound ever. I HATE it! It drives me insane. And yet I hear it every single day. I would be amazed if there are really people out there that don't run out of patience.

  9. Your imperfection as a parent doesn't justify yelling or spanking. I get from you comments that you would like it to. Bad disciplinary choices whether intended or not, sprung from frustrated reaction or not are still bad disciplinary choices. We all as parents make mistakes for sure. The biggest mistake, however, is when we try to accept our own mistakes as merely a fact of life and parenting and don't work to do better.

    My parents yelled and my father spanked and 40 years later I still carry feeling of being demeaned and devalued. And I never said a word to either of them. But my relationship with them was damaged because of their choices.

  10. Why do I suspect that those who are telling you what a good mother you are for spanking are parents who also spank themselves and who want to justify their own behavior?

    I wonder how many adults here would like their spouse or boss or the clerk at the store to hit them when they make a mistake or frustrate the other adult. Bottom line is when you hit a kid, the message you are truly sending is that they are valued by you less than other people...and even in many cases the pet dog that you would never dream of smacking like you would a child. I say shame on you for not having the same control you require of your children. And shame on those adults who support you in your justification of hitting children.

  11. Re Anon above, that is HILARIOUS. Are you expected parent the grocer at the store? Discipline them? Kiss them when they get a booboo? (they'd probably hit you if you tried!) How can you even compare raising a person to someone who is not even a casual acquaintance?

    Unless you have three 2 year olds, SHAME ON YOU for judging the overwhelming nonsense that you can't even begin to understand. Not mention the shame you should feel for not even posting you name with such a judgement.

  12. Anonymous said, "parents who also spank themselves." Ha ha ha ha!!

    Jen, let me just say how much I enjoy your blog. Your children are beautiful and sure seems like you are a great mom.

    Although I have 5 children,they are all singletons. I cannot imagine doing what you do!


  13. Re Grubb above---the first part of your response is simply incoherent and makes no sense in light of what was originally posted. Please learn to create a simple declarative sentence that is coherent.

    Grubb said: "Unless you have three 2 year olds, SHAME ON YOU for judging the overwhelming nonsense that you can't even begin to understand."

    My spouse and I have raised three children without ever hitting them and purposefully causing physical pain and then delusionally calling it love, guidance or an appropriate parenting strategy. Having three 2 year olds is no excuse for violent parenting. Take out your frustrations in a different way and get some help with how to parent and discipline without inflicting pain. No Grubb, shame on YOU for advocating and supporting violence toward children.

  14. I followed the link in another post to this blog and you were right! What a harsh judgement to come from someone who doesn't even have the decency to own up to their own judgements.

  15. I'm up WAY past my bedtime because now I'm addicted to your blog. I stumbled across it and can't stop reading. As for people putting you down for being "violent": YOU are their parent. Only you can decide what's best for your child. One person's way may not (or should not) be another person's way.

    If you feel you're doing fine, then you are.