I Quit

I quit. I quit because I am unqualified. I took this job when it involved nothing more than cuddling babies, changing diapers and offering the appropriate amount of formula per day. I wasn’t required to make conversation, enforce rules or deal with teenage lapses in judgment.

I was good back then. I could blink awake at the first whimper of a baby and rush in silence to a room, cradling a baby by the glow of the nightlight, shushing him back to sleep even when my arms turned into limbs of stiff pain. I could distract a crawler from a ledge, shuffle a schedule to accommodate naps, sit on the floor for hours at a time, clacking blocks together and reading board books.

Now, I am the Queen of Overreaction. For instance, today, as I drove my teenagers to their friend’s house, they asked me, “Can we go to youth group with him?” And I said, “Are you kidding me? You’re asking now, on the way?” And he said, “I asked yesterday.” But here’s the thing, the match that lit the flame of my annoyance. HE DID NOT ASK ME.

He does this with alarming frequency. He says, “I told you,” or “I asked you,” but he doesn’t. Perhaps he breathes the words into the air, but he does not make sure that his words land in my ears so that I hear and understand and respond. Does he not realize my brain is like a colander and people are continually dumping stuff into it? The important stuff sifts through and sinks in, but the big chunks, the rocks and noise and blabbering just filter right out.

I said, with indignance, “YOU DID NOT ASK ME!” And he made the mistake of insisting that he did. In essence, he insinuated that I was lying or mistaken.

So, I yelled at him . . . you may have seen me in that blue van, shouting into the rear-view mirror.

I hate myself when I overreact. Even when I’m right.

Tonight, all is well and then the phone rings and it’s someone who loaned us something for our trip. We returned the something, but without the power cord. Uh, duh. So, I ask my boys about the cord and they dance around the information I need. They avoid telling me. They blame each other. They deny knowledge of said power cord. They were the only ones who used the cord and they emptied the van of their belongings when we unpacked it.

However, apparently the power cord vaporized into thin air because they were baffled by what might have happened. So, I’m asking questions like, “Do you remember unplugging it from the van?” and “Did you pack it into your backpack?” But here’s the main problem at this point. While I am interrogating one of them, I call him into his room which is filthier than a homeless person’s cardboard box (no offense to homeless people). I am sifting through video game boxes and sticky glasses and find a broken mug, but no cord. I am shooting questions into the air like bullets and this kid next to me, my son, is giving me the old, “YOU NEVER LISTEN TO ME!” accusation, which is probably true. I don’t need to listen because I already know what he is going to say. And also, I’m rude and disrepectful and have I mentioned, unqualified for this job?

I hate myself when I behave worse than my kids.

The kids never did answer my questions, although he did finally admit that he knew they lost the cord, but they didn’t offer that information to me. HELLO? I am infuriated at this irresponsible shirking of responsibility, this withholding of important information, this teenageness.

I found the power cord on the kitchen counter.

I overreact. I know I do. I am at an elevated level of pissed off-ness just by walking into their disgusting pig-sty of a room. I blast like a rocket into fury instead of giving them the benefit of the doubt or gathering information without freaking out. I suck.

I simply must stop it. STOP IT. STOP IT! Get a grip before I cause them permanent, irreversible destruction. What I want to know is this, though. If nothing I have said to them to this point, fourteen years of parenting hasn’t made a dent in their behavior (TURN OFF THE LIGHT! STOP FIGHTING! PLEASE QUIT LEAVING EMPTY MILK CARTONS IN THE FRIDGE!) then why do I think that I can affect them negatively? My positive influence hasn’t had any effect at all.

I don’t want to be one of those screaming moms that kids plot to get away from. I don’t want to be a bitter old biddy that no one can stand sitting next to in church. I don’t want my kids to hate me.

(Will they ever stop driving me crazy? Can I stop acting like a lunatic? I want a do-over.)

Really, I quit. I can’t do this. Hire someone else with qualifications.

39 thoughts on “I Quit

  1. What an honest, healthy look at one’s own motherhood. I hope that underneath it all, you know that you are fine and so are your boys?

    All the reminders, the loving direction, the positive moves and gestures have shaped and molded these kids. And while you probably can’t see it right now (and probably won’t for a few more nerve-wracking years), down-the-road you’re going to see that the end results are all good.

    Children who have mothers who care enough to get frustrated and raise their voices occasionally, know in their gut that they are
    loved and valued. They know that while they are being slobs and stinkers (literally and figuratively), they are rock-solid loved. And that is what is called good parenting.

    So feel bad when you yell, because you should. Yelling isn’t good. And we all do it or have done it to one degree or another. The thing is the guilt….and in this instance the guilt is good. We don’t wanna be yelling all the time.

    Relax. Breathe deeply. Never let a single day go by where you don’t touch those boys. Ruffle their hair, tweak their nose, whatever. Just keep being the wonderful Mom that you are.


  2. You mean it doesn’t get any better as they get older – it gets worse?

    There are some days with my 10 year old boy, that I think it really just can’t get any worse then this.
    *sigh* I’ve gotta go pray. I’m going to need it. I’ll include you too.


  3. It gets worse. You do not need to hear that, but it does. But your kids will not remember you as a bitter old biddy, or screeching madwoman I can assure you. This is a small part of a day, and the rest has so much more in it, if we are realistic.Bottom line is your boys KNOW when they have done something wrong, and so they are also aware that you won’t let them get away with it. And that you love them. This is a scenario played out in every home in the land. World. Teenagers push the limits. Press your buttons.Try to shift the blame. It is what they do.
    If it is at all reassuring, a housemaster at Eton school in the UK sends out a letter to all parents of 14 year old boys telling them that they are in for a rough ride and those cute little boys they love so much will all be turning into monsters. But that the parents should hold on tight, and everyone will make it through the turbulent times, and their wonderful sons with lovely natures and excellent manners will return as young men.
    I lived through it. I know that my monstrous teeneager made it through. You will too!


  4. Oh, you take the words right outta my mouth! Just this morning as I prayed (before any kids were awake, mind you) I asked, no begged, that God would please help me to think before I speak/yell. I am the queen of over-reaction. I love my children dearly…but sheesh they know how to push my buttons. The fighting, the excuses (but mom, I told you…or mom, I didn’t know..). The MESSES!! For pete’s sake. My daughter actually had the gall to say “but so what! It’s just the looks” when I was lecturing her (I know, I shouldn’t lecture…but I’m a lousy mom) about the horrid mess all over the floor of her room. Just the LOOKS?? That’s the point! It looks awful!

    I really want to be a mom who blesses her children. A mom who builds and encourages. But I stumble. That’s me, I’m human. Hang on there Melodee. We’ll survive. I’m sure we will. And I’m pretty sure our kids will too. I think.


  5. Thanks for sharing this. I have three preschoolers and another preschool set to join our family in the next six months. I act and react in ways that I never have before in my entire life….and I worked professionally with criminals for 15 years before having kids! You would think I could handle myself! I appreciate your honesty, and truly more than once when I have told people about our plans for adopting number four, they have said “What are you thinking? Do you realize they will all be teenagers at the same time??!!”


  6. OMG! You just read my mind!!!! I was great with babies but just horrible with children. I have no patience–calm to lunatic in 0.2 seconds! Somedays I look in the mirror and see in my reflection one of those “crazy” moms that scream at the grocer and drag their kids around by the shirt collar. Let’s both quit and move to Hawaii before we go insane!!!


  7. You have described a typical day in my life with my 13 year old twin boys. Really, I mean even down to the disgusting room, and a wonderful description of your reaction to the whole thing. I REALLY can relate to you!!


  8. I remember making my mother this crazy and wondering why she had darts flying from her eyes and why she was such a HORRIBLE MOTHER!!!….now that I look back I realize why she was such a lunatic all those times. I think as teenagers its our goal to test the patience of our parents beyond limits that need to be pushed…it won’t get better until they hit senior year and realize that “Oh my gosh” I’m becoming an adult and need my mommy back. It will all work out but probably not for a few more years. I think so many relate to this problem you have and its okay to be a crazy lunatic pissed off mom.


  9. Oh, Mel! I am so there with you. And a little scaired because mine are 6 & 9 and not teenagers at all. But I constantly overreact and see myself (kind of out of body) behaving in such a way to be ashamed if anyone knew. They are basically good kids but sometimes, oh sometimes. And yeah, I’m not qualified and will they let you quit? And how much therapy will be required later to get over this? (Oprah, anyone?).


  10. Mel,

    This is SO funny! I think we have ALL been there, we just don’t like to admit it. Yesterday I nearly lost it when I found the “2nd” towel on MY bathroom counter (neither one happened to belong to me)….It’s one thing for the 14 yo girl to have a messy room all the time, but I must draw the line on my territory. Since they obviously can’t hear me in my normal tone, I was tempted to raise the volume. Luckily for them, my husband was home for lunch. He decided that he would borrow her room last night to change his clothes, and then left them there. Of course, she was horrified and brought them back to him. Apparently she doesn’t like his stuff on her floor. Can you believe that???


  11. The kids will grow up and laugh about you among themselves, i.e. “remember when she used to freak out?” ha ha ha ha ha

    Then the boys will look at their children and ask them, “where is _____?” and their kids will have no knowledge of the item.

    You’ll smile then.


  12. Ut oh. I’ve got a 10 month old… it gets more complicated than diapers and wondering if they’re ever going to eat food or sleep in their own bed or at least stay on their side of our bed?


  13. It’s true. The only reason for having children is to get grandchildren. Okay, so NOT the ONLY reason, but a pretty good one.

    I have NOT forgotten those days. I’m still tired from those days. I cannot believe that those upstanding adults are the absolute slobs who lived with us for all those years.

    Screaming was at least a monthly occurance (monthly…get it?).

    They don’t remember it though. They think I was great.


  14. Make sure you aren’t neglecting yourself. I find that I get really snippy when I’m giving out too much and not putting anything back. Sometimes putting back for me is as simple as painting my toenails.
    In just a few minutes I’m off to a retreat. I have no responsibilities. No kids. Not a pastor’s wife. Just me. I’m leaving a clean house and will come home to a messy one but it’s a small price to pay :).


  15. You are a mom to two teen-age boys. I think 12-16 is the worst age for boys. They are just so STUPID! Sorry for the harsh words, but could not think of a better description. They will grow up, and you will be amazed at how many great things they did learn from you.


  16. Wow you sound like my west coast soul mate…or something. I only have two children, 12 and 4 and both girls, but with many of the same frustrations that you have been facing. Sometimes I wonder how I am not bald and voiceless by now.

    I think you are a great mom, and like the rest of us who are not Mary Poppins. 🙂 (Like, have you ever watched Clean Sweep, or How Clean is Your House?, or Clean House so that you feel better about your housekeeping “skills”? Yeah, that’s me.)


  17. Gosh, I am right there with you, sister. I am a total over-reactor too. But you know…the pigsty rooms get me started – they nag away at my anal retentiveness and make me crazy. Also, the lying and half answers – along with the evasiveness on information – Crazy I Tell You!!! I am on my 4th teenager – and he is 14 just like your boys – and he learned nothing from his older siblings – except how to be evasive, half truthful and whiney….


  18. Thanks for sharing this honest, wonderfully written piece of writing. My son will be three in about 3 weeks and I’m constantly overreacting and crying about it after he’s in bed to my hubby. Of course the fact that I’m due on August 14th with our 2nd doesn’t make my patience level any more tolerant by any stretch. Ugh, it’s nice to know that other Mom’s want to quit some days too. I think I’m suggesting a Father and Son day tomorrow!!!!


  19. I can really relate to this, Melodee. I think we go through an emotional rollercoaster as moms. It sounds like you are like I am too and you constantly are beating yourself up emotionally for any outbursts or negative reactions you have to things your kids do. All that I can say is it is very obvious you are a great mom from this blog and that your kids are lucky to have you. Everyone has those days, M. Everyone has them. Hang in there!


  20. Great idea, I’ll quit my family too and I’ll go take myself somewhere to raise pigs instead. Seems easier and cleaner.

    Want to join me on the pig farm?



  21. Keep this up and I’ll show up on your doorstep singing “I believe in you” or “Wind beneath my wings” or something ghastly like that!


  22. Not only did I make it thru my two kids’ teen years with my marbles intact, but I was a Middle School lunch lady for several years, a “substitute mom” for thousands of kids between the ages of 11-14. I must be insane, but I LOVED it!!! I learned a lot from my own teen years…not easy ones…and there wasn’t much any of these kids could pull over my eyes. I’ve told many friends who are facing the ‘terrible teen years’ that the BEST ‘medicine’ is “No reaction is the best reaction of all” as far as being the parent goes. Sounds impossible, doesn’t it? But, my…how well it works. 99% of what they say/do is for our reactions…they know our buttons better than we do. By not reacting it takes the wind right out of their sails. I don’t remember spending much time yelling at my kids and I don’t think they’d remember many times, either. Life’s too short. And on the days you do lose it? Oh well. We’re only human, Mel. And tomorrow’s another day.


  23. I am scared!!! My son is only 5 1/2 and He is already like this. I now it will get worse before it gets better. All we can do is pray and get through it. I have said many times, I QUIT!

    Good Luck.


  24. I skimmed through the replies, and found too many people telling you it is going to get worse. That is not necessarily the case. For me the tough times peaked early…15 years old or so….and then got WAY better. Sure you have a tough day or two ahead…or three…or, well, you know….


  25. Oh Mel, you sound like me! I’m still assuming it gets better. My 26 year old daughter, who still lives at home because she’s in school, just told me tonight that she got the apartment she applied for a month ago. Gee, you would think this might be news you want to share with your parents wouldn’t you think? Especially since you live with them. I quit a long time ago, but nobody listened…


  26. Hey there…I don’t know if it helps, but this is what I’ve found difuses the situation. When I used to get into the old, “You never told me/asked me/ etc.” routine – I then got on the roller coaster of ‘whose to blame’ or better yet, ‘someone’s lying and it’s not me’! Let me tell you, nothing good comes of that one! Beleive me, I know..I’ve had more screaming matches at my kids – convinced they are trying to make ME beleive I’m losing my mind! So…now, rather than get into a no-win situation, what I say to them is this, “Well, you MAY have said it to me, but I don’t remember.” And then if they try to tell me that I ‘said this’ or ‘that’, I’ll tell them…”Once again, I’ve told you that I don’t remember hearing about this, so I’m abviously NOT going to remember giving you an answer either – so all deals are null and void. We’ll talk now..and the decision made now, stands.” Well, it’s worked wonders, because they all know I don’t like making snap decisions, so if they are REALLY talking to me about something, they’ll make a point now of waiting til they have my full attention – not talking to me while I’m on the phone, the computer or watching TV. I’ve told them, from now on, there has to be ‘eye contact’ or deals dont’ count. Working wonders in our house – try it! And yes…the way you described your situation – you could be living in my house!


  27. Who among us hasn’t experienced this to one degree or another? See all those ‘You could be in my house’ responses?
    It happens.
    I am a great one for over-reacting and then going back and applogizing to my kids. It is humbling and soothes both them and me.

    You do good, nay great work. Keep it up.



  28. Thanks Mel! I really needed that post. As a young mom, when I freak out or overreact I tend to tell myself, “this wouldn’t have happened if you had been older when you had children!” (I was nearly 20 when I had my first) but now I see that it’s okay. Even mommas who started after they were 20 still have freakouts. 🙂


  29. Here is the thing which my sister was kind enough to explain to me. We do not overact over the little things for no reason, it is because when we ask the kids a question or to do something they tune us out (think the Charlie Brown teachers voice. My sister explained further it is because what we deem inportant is not important to them. No that just got my panties in a bumch, but she is right. They do not think a clean house, bedrooms or yard work is important. Even if there are bribes attached to getting it done.
    So,like you I “am trying” hard not to over react to the little things. But, I have also developed a “hearing problem” when they need something, and that has seemed to help. Also saying no when they want me to do something for them.


  30. Oh my! I linked over here and I am so glad I did. Your post is so funny, but not funny, because it’s me. I have four children and I am constantly over-reacting. I wrote my own post just this week about how guilty I feel when I turn in to psycho-mom. I think I am quitting too.


  31. You sound just like me. I feel so unqualified to be a parent. Judge and jury all day long! And the messy rooms? Oh yeah! A source of ranting and railing that should be illegal. My oldest is only 10, and I can already tell we’re going to have a dandy time when he’s a teen. Lord help us, every one.


  32. Oh, I have SOOOOO been there (yesterday, in fact!). I’m so glad to read your post – and the comments. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one feeling guilty about my parenting, and hoping to do better today than I did yesterday. Only by the grace of God.
    Rachel in Idaho
    Sent from She Laughs at the Days


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