Weekly Column: Losing it (and I’m not talking about weight.)

Has anyone seen my temper? I’ve lost it somewhere and now I can’t seem to find it.  I remember having it when I walked into the grocery store, but there’s a very good chance that I left it in the freezer section in between the frozen pizza rolls the Cheese was whining about and the ice cream the Monkey was begging for. 

At least it will still be fresh when I go back to pick it up.

In all likelihood, it’s probably in a booth somewhere at Chuck E. Cheese and an even better chance that it is in the parking lot of Toys ‘R’ Us.  And there’s a strong possibility that I left it in the toy department at Wal-Mart while trying to purchase a birthday present for a friend last week.  I always have my temper when I go into these places, but I never, ever have it when I leave.

I have a feeling that it might have slipped between the seats of my SUV when I turned around to yell at the children in the backseat, but it could also be in the airport bathroom in Dallas while waiting impatiently for a connecting flight a few weeks ago.  There are so many different places that my temper might be, I don’t even know where to start looking.

I used to be a very calm and collected person.  There were few things that fazed me.  Someone cut me off while driving?  I handled it in stride.  A student threw up unexpectedly on his desk in my classroom?  I called the janitor without skipping a beat.  I used to be a lovely, patient, even-keeled person and then God looked at me and said, “That is enough of that!” and gave me children.

From the moment the pregnancy stick turned from one line to two, I became a nervous and irritated woman whose temper is now shorter than a Baby Einstein video.

My children have mastered the fine art of the whining-begging-crying-fit-throwing type of defiance that makes a mother want to eat her young.  They know exactly how to push my buttons and somehow, some way, I have to learn how not to push back.

I have begun to recognize the signs of when I’m about to lose it.  I start grinding my teeth, stomping my feet, and yelling pointless demands like, “Because I said so!” 

And I wonder where my children learned to throw fits.

But even with all of these cues, I often end up losing my temper.  Most days I lose it during the darkest hours of the afternoon.  If you’re a parent, you know what time I’m referring to.  It’s that hour or two in between nap time and dinnertime that at our house we call “Unhappy Hour.”

For me it’s the time of day when the ugliest part of my mommy personality seems to appear and I find myself saying things like:

“If you keep jumping on the couch you’re either going to fall or I’m going to come over there break your neck!”

“If you don’t like eating broccoli, what makes you think the dog does?”

“Quit hitting your brother or you’re going to sit in time-out until next Tuesday!”

I never used to talk like this before I gave birth.  Now, unfortunately for my husband, it’s the norm.  The happy bride that he married is not the same woman he comes home to every evening.  We consider it a good day at our house if he walks in the door and I don’t shove one or both of the children at him and say, “I’m done.  They’re all yours.”

But with each day there is fresh hope. I wake up smiling, thinking about all of the good things that the new day will bring.  And then, before I’ve even had time to hit the snooze button, I hear a child’s voice yelling at me from the kitchen.

“I want my waffle!”

Which reminds me. Maybe I should check my freezer.  There’s a good chance I left my temper is next to the Eggo’s.

Copyright 2006, Stephenie B. Freeman


  1. Anonymous

    your step sister most definitely agrees and can relate….I find myself yelling at the kids, ” I am filling the bath-tub up and drowning each of you, one at a time”….they just laugh, silly mommy. But, I actually mean it…sorta.

  2. malisa

    We all know how it feels as our patience whittles down to the finest shred. But I love how you touched upon the one element we rarely discuss but can all relate: we awake each morning with a glimmer of hope that that day will be different. Perhaps it's similar to child birth. If we remembered it well, we would never live through it again. So if we woke each morning recalling the upheavals of the prior afternoon, we may never get out of bed and get them off to school…and have those few brief hours of peace, only to prepare for the next “No!”

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