Every Little Thing They Do Is Magic

On Being That Mom

But first, elsewhere: Deconstructed Cotton Balls From Spaaaaace!


The comments on Monday's post were...well, they were humbling. In a shaming kind of way, the endless chorus of praise and virtual applause and refrains of YOU ARE SUCH AN AWESOME MOM, because oh. Oh.

Only sometimes.

That moment...yeah, I'll own that. I was proud of Noah. I was proud of MYSELF.

I was proud that I didn't march us back to the house in a huff of frustration and anger, letting Noah know that I was indeed, frustrated and angry, either through my words (or lack or words, ah, nothing like busting out the silent treatment on your four-year-old) or through impatient tugs on his hand: COME ON. YOU WANTED TO LEAVE, WE'LL LEAVE. GOD. I was proud that I didn't react that way. 

The way I react far too often. Maybe even most of the time. Fifty-fifty? On a good day?

The way I reacted just the night before writing that entry, while locked in a bedtime battle of wills, confronted with an uncooperative child who wouldn't stand still, get undressed, get dressed, listen to me, look at me, stop that, stop that. 

If it made me feel better, I suppose I could blame Sensory Processing Disorder: he has no self-regulation, he is distracted by things we've learned to shut out, he has difficulty interpreting vocal tone and facial expressions, he can't always distinguish when we're upset and when we're playing, blah blah blah, I only fail because my kid is so much harder to deal with.

But I don't think that's true. I know it isn't fair. To Noah, that is.

No, Sunday night he was just being...four. A high-spirited, strong-willed four-year-old who didn't want to go to bed. And I couldn't handle that.

I scolded. I threatened. I yelled. When that didn't work, I grabbed his shoulders and yelled again. I grabbed hard. I stormed out and threw his pajamas at Jason, who had just finished putting Ezra to bed. (Ezra! Who is so easy! Except when you're trying to change his diaper and he wriggles and flips over and grabs things and throws them on the floor stop that, stop that.)

"YOU DO IT," I said. "I'M DONE."

I wasn't, really. I went and took a breather in our room and then guiltily emerged to guiltily read a bedtime story dripping in guilty guilt.

My brain scolded me: So he runs around for an extra 10 minutes and then goes to bed, it's not the end of the world. Why didn't you try turning it into a game instead of immediately switching into Mommy As Dictator mode?

(And of course, the Mommy As Dictator part of my brain offered up an enraged answer: Because I gave birth to him and ruined my body and moved to the suburbs and work so hard for him and private school therapy endless drudgery I don't think it's too much to ask for a little respect at bedtime GAR SMASH.)

(Translation: Because I'm the Mommy, that's why!)

And the next day I sat down and wrote an entry about a different moment, a better moment. The kind of moment I wish we could have more of, and the kind that I hope Noah remembers. But I don't get to pick and choose what he remembers. The patient mother in the ocean, soothing, praising, protecting. Or the impatient mother in his room, yelling, contorting, snapping.

In both of these stories, Noah -- unpredictable, confounding, mysterious Noah -- is actually the constant. I am the variable.



Ah yes, you described it perfectly. From the "I'm done" to the ruined body comment. It is good to know that I'm not the only one!


Hi malah
Iam glad to letter yuo
I hop frandship to E-mail


Hi malah
Iam glad to letter yuo
I hop frandship to E-mail


You're still awesome.


Dude, it's reassuring to know that a mom I admire so much has the awful, frustrating, doing-totally-the-wrong-thing moments, too! I read the entry about Noah and the ocean and thought, "I'm only that kind of mom in such brief, shining moments!" The truth of the matter is that we're all only that parent in brief, shining moments. But it's a joy and a gift to be that parent at all. (And on that note, my 15-month-old just have me a remarkable smile of, "If you get off the computer and build me a block tower to knock down, I might just walk to it without holding onto anything!" so I'm off.) You rock, even in the tough times. And so do we all.


What a wonderful post Amy. I have three small children, and I can 100% relate to what you've written. There are days when my heart seems lighter, and I can turn the everyday struggles into something fun (and maybe even educational). And then there are the rest of the days when I feel like I could donate my children to the Goodwill, and I find myself yelling the same thing 20 times just to get them to respond. It's just part of being a mother. I can't tell you how much it means that you can be so honest and so authentic. Those words, "I am the variable", really struck a chord with me. Thank you.


That closing destroyed me.

bethany actually

Of course we all have bad-parenting moments. Of COURSE we do. And unfortunately we can't censor those out of our kids' memories. But we can apologize and explain that we were tired or hungry or frustrated, and that's how our kids learn that everyone makes mistakes, that it's okay to make mistakes, how to apologize when they've made a mistake. And then you remember and pat yourself on the back for all the AWESOME moments like the beach one, and praise your kids for their awesome moments, and work on making more moments like that.

You know all this. I know you do. :-) And please know that when we say things in the comments like "OMG U R the BEST MOM EVAR" it's because we are rejoicing in those wonderful moments with you, cheering you and Noah and Ezra and Jason on in this crazy thing called parenting.

Amy @ Bitchin' Wives Club

So true, so true.... As I begin another Fourth year this time with my third son, I am constantly trying to balance the good mommy moments and the bad mommy ones. I feel okay as long as the good ones outweigh the bad. And as long as they all keep running to me to deliver hugs and kisses and to return some of the love that I've poured into them.

Of course, I am only saying that because I'm having a good day today. ;) Other days I beat myself up and wonder how the hell I ever got myself into this situation. Meh, whatcha gonna do?!

Theta Mom

Just stumbled this amazing post because it truly spoke to the heart of me. I sometimes wonder if I am dealing with a SPD 4 year-old but I don't have night-time battles. Mine are about changing socks or shirts because they don't "feel right." Either way, beautifully written and at the end of the day, we are the variable in this equation - and you are not alone.


I can relate to this blog. However, my kids don't have sensory processing disorder. (One did graciously wait until 2 days before 17 months to walk, just so I'd be patient, I guess. :/ But not the same thing.) So it's scary how much I relate, since my kids don't even have an explanation for their crazy behavior and my crazy reactions!


oh, how this post spoke to me. I am past (way past) the 4 year old phases. My youngest are 27, but I still, have those darn moments, those memories pop into my head, moments I wish I could take back, being frustrated, tired, lazy, any number of excuses, and remembering yelling, threatening, etc. when in reality, as you said, what would 10 minutes differece really mean? oh, how i wish I could go back. so much so, that i find myself tearing up when i read some of yours and others parenting blogs. do they remember all those nasty minutes? God, I hope not, but I'm sure some of them they do, because reality is, there were plenty to remember. Thanks to you for all you do and hopefully you and other mom's who follow you will be able to make themselevs stop, some of the time, and re-check what it is that is so of luck to you, but you don't need luck, you are doing a great job!
I wonder if other "older" moms feel like I do, the feelings of how I would do it differently if given the chance to do it again.

Big Gay Sam

::gasp:: Oh. My. God.

You're an actual living, breathing, fallible human being. Color ME surprised. :P

In my book, this makes you even more amazing. I ♡♡♡ you. Will you adopt me.. even though I'm 47?




Amy! You are still an awesome mom. You're also human, just like the rest of us, and we love you that much more for it. You may not get to choose the moments that Noah remembers, but you can have some say in what YOU remember. Remember the good ones, okay? We are all our own worst critics and it's so easy to focus on our faults. When you're in the midst of a terrible bedtime, remember the times you get it right. Give yourself that gift. And hang in there, you AWESOME MOM you!


Me too.

My 2 year old sees me tensing up when he disobeys and pre-emptively shouts "YOU, SIT!" or even better, "OBEY ME!"
I sag, and I groan that I am such a harpy.

There are other days when I feel the patience FLOWING out of my body, like the day I drove along repeating the alphabet one letter at a time for him to repeat again and again and again (OMG mommy this is so fun) and thought what a shame it was that there are parents that can't be bothered.

But those days don't blot out the harpy days, and I can't just accept "you're a great mom".

I want to have those days every day, and although realistically I know that I won't, you won't, and it's just a fantasy to expect it, I am disappointed with myself when I'm not perfect, not that ideal self all the time. Sounds like you are too.

Just because you're not as great of a mom as you wish, just because there's room for more growth - don't let that overshadow the fact that some times, you ARE a great mom.

And just because you selectively reveal the great and not great moments (even if they're revealed in unrealistic proportions), those great moments ARE still great, and that's why we take the time to tell you so.

Miss Britt

We all have those good and bad moments. The ones where we get it perfect and think "God, I am so awesome at this, I should write a parenting book and give advice to my friends!" - and the ones that we hope no one ever sees, that we imagine will get discussed with a therapist later.

And, yeah, the scariest part is not knowing which of those moments they'll choose to remember.

In other words:


Lancelot and Lady's Mom

This was such an amazing and insightful post. I can SO identify. First of all, I appreciated your statement..."He was just being four" because I know how easy it is to get frustrated with a kid and blame it on their previous condition when in fact...they are just being nomal. I find myself doing that with both my kids often. Good reminder. Secondly, I know I am WAY to often the snapping mom and not the sweet one and HOW I wish I could erase those things from my kids memories!
Thanks for sharring your heart!


Amy, we all have those "once in a while I am an awesome parent" moments, and that is precisely what brought you a bazillion comments saying "awesome" (including mine).

I have had a handful of those moments myself, and they are redeeming. You know, down in your soul, where only you can see/feel them.

But mostly you and I and everybody else is a less than awesome parent 90% of the time. It is what it is.


The only thing that could top this post is the 120 "me too" comments. Thank you all so much for helping me realize I am not alone!


everytime I read your blog, I know why. To remind myself that I'm not alone and that we all lose patience and get frustrated and drown in guilt. You're awesome...and not alone.


Isn't it amazing when the little ones mimic you? My daugther never ceases to amaze me when she does something that she wasn't taught, but merely observed.

Missy Carvin

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh!! That's ME!!! MEmemememeemememememeeeeeeee. Right there, in that post. OK, I don't have a Noah, I have an Abby. And she's just 3, not 4. Me, with the yelling and the screaming Mommy some days the ocean Mommy other days.

And I just think to myself - God, how confusing must this be for her? To never know which Mommy she's going to get on any given day? How confusing for me?

So, thank you. For writing what we ALL feel and do sometimes.

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