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.



Great entry. Poignant for all parents, I believe. At least it spoke to me.

chatty cricket

Oh Aaaaaaaaammmmmmyyyyyyy. I KNOW what you MEAN. I find myself CONSTANTLY locked in epic battles with my 4.5 year old daughter. And rationally in my head wondering why. And having the MOM VOICE say because this is BULLSHIT PUT ON YOUR PAJAMAS/EAT YOUR DINNER/PICK UP THAT BOOK.

Sometimes I feel like we swing wildly between having wonderfully loving teaching moments and totally stupid fights over nothing because she is FOUR. I don't think we spend much time in between.

GOD. Why is parenting so HARD? But it's nice to know we're not the only ones. Pfffft.

C @ Kid Things

I get this.


Beautiful. Thank you. It's nice to not feel alone in this.

College At Thirty

Kids Their brains work differently than adults. My interractions with my niece are high-emotion, positive encounters that don't generally last that long, but I can tell you that in some of those moments, I really am about ready to grab her by the shoulders and tell her she's being unreasonable. I can only imagine how my brother and his wife feel at times.

You're human. You're a mom. You're home with him for most of the day all by yourself. Cut yourself some slack. You're allowed to be frustrated. At least you recognize it in yourself, and you're determined to be better. Think of the parents who don't and aren't. Pity their kids. Yours are amazing.


I carried my three year old out of school this week under my arm, in full meltdown mode, coatless and barefoot in 30 degree snow. In front of five other moms. So, yeah ... we've all been there.


It happens to all of us, it really does. Sometimes we have the patience to think of ways to get over the bumps and sometimes we don't. What I love about both this post and the ocean one, and blogging about parenting in general is that reading your stories, telling my stories, we are giving each other ideas for things to do before the patience wears out - together, we have a greater store of imagination and grace and strength.


Most parents don't figure it out. You figured it out.


Le sigh... I TOTALLY get where you are coming from,


Wonderful post. It makes me smile.

The Queen of Hyperbole

When he's older and looking back on his childhood, he'll remember that you always loved him. He really will. I'm certain of it.


I love love love your last sentence. I'm going to try and remember that. (never ending quest for more patience) :)


Thank you for the honesty. Sometimes I feel like the only mom who struggles with this. Often times I wonder what they will remember, I only remember the happy mom- but my sister only seems to remember the mommy monster. Sigh.


Amy, I just love your blog and think you so eloquently describe how it feels to be a mom. I think you are doing a great job even in your moments where it isn't all going the way you want it to.


I just want to admit something- not because I want to be an ass but, because I mean it. For some reason, I had gotten grumpy with you lately, felt like maybe you had your head too far up your own ass and that maybe you were starting to get a little "dooce-y". But, with this entry, I have to say- I WAS WRONG. This is gorgeous, moving stuff. Great mom, great writer. Love love love it.

Rage Against the Minivan

Yes, yes, yes. We've all been there, and your willingness to tell this is why I appreciate your writing so much. We are all THAT MOM at times - if we are living breathing honest adults.


Oh man, you are not alone, that's for sure! I am always asking myself why I am so goddamned uptight about everything and why can't I just have fun with them? But sometimes it's just because I WANT TO DO IT MY WAY FOR ONCE!!! Selfish? Maybe. But yeah, some days are like that. :)


Oh and I was also going to say I am always fretting about what they will remember. I have some shining star mommy moments. But there are so many other moments I am ashamed of and I constantly fear they will remember the bad more than the good. Hopefully it will fall somewhere in the middle. :)


Every day I wake up thinking, I don't want this morning to turn into "soldier mommy" and a yelling match. Most days I lose that battle. You are so right, I am the variable. Unpredictable (yet predictablly slow) behavior from my 3 1/2 year is the constant.

Yesterday I played Lady Gaga and told her that if she got ready before the song ended, she could listen to the whole thing. It worked. Small (strange) victories.


You know what, Amy. This entry made tears come to my eyes faster than the last entry. This entry is what being a mom is all about for me. Well both entries really....a balance. Noah will remember the patient mom, don't worry. But you will know that there was a real person inside of that patient mom and that will make the patient mom even more impressive.


Oh Amy. Thank you for going in my brain and translating what you saw there into this entry. :-)


You perfectly describe how I have been lately with my four year old. It's like he's old enough that suddenly I expect him to control himself and behave like a mini adult when really he's still a very little boy. Sigh.

Have you read Playful Parenting? My friend just loaned it to me (I think she got tired of me complaining about what an impatient monster mother I am) and I'm liking it very much. That post you wrote about the ocean - perfect example of a playful parenting moment to help Noah work through whatever was holding him back.

Cheryl S.

Honestly, this is one of the reasons I read this blog. I don't think you have ever professed to be the world's best mom. In fact, I think you've always been honest about what you life is like, good and bad. I think people rejoice for you in your good moments because you write about the bad too.

As for today's entry. SO BEEN THERE. Why do they always pick bedtime?? I'm already exhausted. When my 4.5 y/o daughter is about to make me commit murder, I go take a shower. It has happened often enough that when she starts to hear that "tone" in my voice, she now asks if I need to go take a shower!!


Thank you for being sharing this. My daughter has PDD and has similar issues; the distractions, not understanding facial expressions, etc. and I get frustrated when she doesn't listen or seems like she is ignoring us. I always feel like I am the only one who loses their patience and then I beat myself up about it feeling like such a bad mom. So thank you for making me realize I'm not the only one!


Oh yeah. I get it. Sometimes I'm afraid that when my 3yo is recounting his bad dreams to me they will feature my Mommy As Dictator mode and then I will know just how much I've screwed up my poor kid.


Amy one of the things I love about your blog is that you tell the good and the bad. You're human so you're going to have your bad moments along with the good ones. I do remember my mom and dad flipping out sometimes when I was a kid, but as an adult I recognize how hard they were working and trying to be the best parents they could and I admire them for the fact that they kept on trying. I surely don't hold it against them. I still see them as great parents, loving parents and remember the fun times too. So just remember that the other night is just one of many, many nights you'll have with Noah. And when he grows up even if he remembers the bad ones it doesn't negate the good ones.


I was one of those who said, "Yeah, you're awesome."

Think back to your mother. Do you remember her being strict and think about how awful of a mother SHE was?

No! That's part of being a mother. Sometimes you have to be stern, and sometimes you don't have the patience.
It's okay to be human. It's okay to be imperfect, and the variable.

You deal with him better than most of us would, and *that's* what makes you such a great mother.

Don't be so hard on yourself.

Part of being a parent is about making mistakes. All parents do it. You'll make mistakes, but the best part is going back and making it up to him.

And apologize. My dad used to get really mad, and he would always come and apologize. Letting us know that he didn't *like* being that way. And that he felt bad. That meant more to me than I think he'll ever know.


Yep. What you said! That variable thingy there. How do you manage to nail it with every post? It is not now, nor has it ever been about being the Gold Medal parent, but getting through some of "those" moments in any given day and retaining some measure of sanity qualifies us for at least a Bronze.


I was a way above average patient mom. Rational. And when after two decades I could talk to my children more like adults they told me I should have been more open. I should have let them know soon. So. There's that.


No one is going to take your mommy of the year award back for admitting that you are human. Indeed, the very fact that you are able to recognize your own 'mis-steps' as a parent, the better a parent you can be. I wish my mother had been able to do the same thing.



"I'm the variable"

That was a gut punch and tear springer at the same time.

It's like you wrote this for ME.

:) Thank you

Sprite's Keeper

Amen! I've been arguing against the terrible two's, three's. four's, and five's and whatever age your kid is since my own entered the phase. It's usually not them, it's us. I am that mom too. It's just too bad that my husband whose evening work hours vary misses out on those great mom moments when I'm reading her to sleep and skipping tv all together and comes home on time to the Imagination Movers trying to keep her still while Mommy catches just one minute on her butt why the hell did you pick that moment to walk in the door, John?

Sprite's Keeper

Amen! I've been arguing against the terrible two's, three's. four's, and five's and whatever age your kid is since my own entered the phase. It's usually not them, it's us. I am that mom too. It's just too bad that my husband whose evening work hours vary misses out on those great mom moments when I'm reading her to sleep and skipping tv all together and comes home on time to the Imagination Movers trying to keep her still while Mommy catches just one minute on her butt why the hell did you pick that moment to walk in the door, John?


Please don't feel guilty. Most kids will remember the patient times, not the frustrated ones when they were little and, well, frustrating.

You're human and you chose to get out of the situation and distance yourself instead of doing anything beyond grabbing (I honestly don't think it's wrong to grab a child to get them to pay attention, I know it worked on my siblings and me when were determined to not pay attention). You also didn't hold a grudge. You came back and showed Noah that real people get frustrated when people don't do what they should but that you still love him and were able to show that love in the story reading.

I think that's awesome. More patience and forgiveness than I think I could ever have with a person.


What you are is........Normal.

What Noah will remember is he has a mommy who loves him unconditionally.

That is all.


You are writing my exact experiences with a certain four year old lately---are we related? and did you get the boxes of clothes during the snowstorm? (because I have more.....)


You're not a machine, mama. Just as Noah deals and sometimes struggles with the world around him in his own way, you do, too. I don't blame you for feeling guilty. I had practically the identical night every night for the past two weeks. But being Noah's mom doesn't make you less susceptible to your own set of challenges. And having a hard time dealing with them doesn't make you a bad person or a bad mom. It just makes you human. You're able to process it in your head and here and that's VERY good. Noah knows you love him and he even knows, to some degree, that you have tough times just like he does. You are there for him and he is there for you. It's okay.


We've all been there. I lost my mind at Michael on Sat. Lost my mind. I was in his face yelling at him, saying things like, "and you will lose all your privileges......and....and....." and it was not until he started crying and said, "are you ever going to stop yelling" that I realized, he is four. And four is frankly, a bitch.

I like to think the good outweighs the bad. And I've seen you parent. I know it does.


oh, but amy. people can't even have a perfect track record at a 9-5 job. your job is 24/7. it isn't your perfect or imperfect track record that we cheer for, but that you even HAVE these perfect moments in the first place. there are those people who don't ace it even once, and you're not one of them.


I had a mom who was "that mom." She was amazing and wonder, and everything I hope to be as a mother. She was also, most definitely, a very human mom. I remember both, and I remember both with affection and gratitude. I learned so many lessons from her, and right up at the top was that its okay not to be perfect. (A particularly hard one for me, by the way.)


You're a good mom.

I wish my mother had been more like you.


My 19 year old daughter was looking through a photo album and came across a picture of herself at about 7 years old. In the photo, you can tell she had been crying. It was because I wanted to take her picture in a pretty dress for Christmas. She said she remembered that day and that she was sorry she was such an a**hole. She said she didn't know why she acted like that. I told her I was over it, but I was glad she apologized. Being a mom is hard.


I will echo everyone else and say THANK YOU. This is why I am hopelessly addicted to your blog - you are SO RELATABLE. I read your blog to be inspired, like with the previous entry, and to find reassurance, like with this entry, that I am NOT the only mom who goes through this stuff. Not that I am pleased that you struggle sometimes, too, but it's so comforting to know I'm not alone.

Shannon M.

Love it when your punch line really does hit me right in the gut.

I just hope she doesn't have TOO much to say in therapy when she's in her mid- to late-20s...


Um. Yes. I think all mother's have different responses to different situations. And, even the same situations have different responses based on all the variables of the day. I am THAT mom too. Too much, really. But I am also the other mom. It is like anything else in our culture, we all tend to beat ourselves up for the bad moments and forget about all of the good. I am glad you remember the good, too.


Wow - This was the light bulb that I needed. Thank you, Amalah. Your honesty is poignant, raw and beautiful. Noah and Ezra are lucky, lucky boys.


Aren't we all that mom?

I appreciate your honesty.

"Learn from your mistakes" is a valuable lesson. How lucky are your boys to have a mom who is willing to learn, to move on, to try harder?


My mother did something for me very similar to your Noah-Ocean Story. She also had her moments of impatience and such. But I remember her patience more. ~ L

Stacey Jay

Thank you. You just made my cry a little with relief. I'm so glad it's not just me who doesn't always rise to the challenge of parenting with the patience and gentleness I strive for. This is why I come here even when I have no time to spare. Thank you so much for your honesty in sharing both the good and the bad.



That was powerful and so true. You are, by far, one of the best bloggers out there b/c of posts like this that don't say "pity me! look how hard I have it!" but instead help so many of us relate, release a big sigh of relief, and say YES, AMEN.

Sara R.

It takes a tremendous amount of patience and presence of mind to react the way we should vs. the way we feel like reacting. More than any of us actually has. 50/50 on a good day is pretty darn good. Plus I think it's a good thing for our kids to occasionally see us get mad. The world at large is not going to treat them with endless patience. Of course as moms we should TRY, but it can be valuable to show them their behavior is not appropriate. Plus showing your kids that adults get mad without hitting can give them context for how to deal with their own anger.

You know how you want to react and you are trying your best. No one can be perfect all the time!


I love the spit out of you. The way you handle yourself, your honesty, the fact that you never -- ever -- take yourself too seriously.

Oh, Amy. You're my hero. Honestly. And if you think this -- this admission, this honesty, right here -- isn't as important an example for your kids as the patience you displayed on vacation, you're smoking crack, yo.

I just want to hug you and say hey, man, thanks. A lot.


There, you see? THIS is also why you get the love comments. :)


Last night, after a long-long day with bad notes from school, fighting with friends, poop in the pants and CLEAR red flags, sensory blah, blah, blah....I stormed out too. I went to his IEP folder and dragged out the aggression social story and plopped him on the cold, tile floor, harder than I should. I tossed the cards on the floor and read them, "Nice hands, no fighting, time out. Which of these are bad," I asked. He focused for the first time. He pushed the fighting card toward me. "Which are you doing tomorrow?" He pushed the nice hands toward me.
They know.
They are smart.
They understand.
We learn from them everyday.
That is all you can do.

I sat there crying while my husband put him to bed. I hate when those moments happen but it takes a lot to switch gears and do what is best for them because we are human. We get frustrated and it is ok.
I'm glad you focused on the good day despite that one, because I ran to facebook and cried to his teachers. Then, I felt guilty.

mrs chaos

I still wouldn't change my comment from the other post.

We have our good moments, we have our bad moments as parents. We work hard to have more good than bad.


Yes, I've got chronic guilt too.


Sometimes I read your posts and wonder if you're looking in my windows and writing about my life in your words...


I agree with everyone else: we all do it and we all hate that we do it but in the end we are human so it's just going to happen. I don't know if this is strange of me or not but it helps me SO MUCH in these types of I HAVE HAD IT moments to explain it to my boys somehow. For some reason if I say to them "Mommy is cranky tonight" or "I'm really tired and need to go to bed, too" I at least feel like they won't forever label me as monster mom but as a person who gets impatient sometimes or just has a bad day now and then. The same is true for them so they get it. Does that make sense?


I really needed this post today. We are stuggling with our 4.5 year old and somedays i feel like im the only one in the world dealing with this. THank you. You are such an amazing mom.


I love this. I think we ALL feel like this with our children. I used to be more high-strung and less patient and sometimes downright miserable to my children. I'm SO much better now (maybe maturity and lack of job stress and deciding to be happy?), but I remember being a less than perfect mother. I yelled, cajoled, grumped and griped and got mad. My boys, who are now 12 and 14, claim they don't remember the bad times. Your boys love you and always will, and I bet they'll remember mostly the good times, too.


Yes. Thank you.

Snarky Mommy

I swear to God, bedtime for 4-year-olds is the 10th circle of hell. Mine has taken to insisting the door be left open, going to the bathroom two or three times after he's in bed and then asking me if I am leaving and if he's going to be sick. I get so annoyed and snap "No! I am not leaving! And no, you're not going to be sick. Now goodnight." So I can rush downstairs and sit in peace and quiet. Maybe if I took two seconds to reassure him about his separation anxiety and his fear of throwing up again, he would stop asking.

Mothering is hard.


Bed time, ugg!! That is when I seem to loose my temper the easiest. He's tired, I'm tired and I always had in my mind if bedtime is 8pm he better be in bed by 8pm. Lately I have been letting that slide a little, somewhere between 8 and 9 and I find myself less stressed and he is so much eaiser to put to bed when I want to keep on a strict schedule. I am learning just like everyother mom out there. Thanks for making me feel like i'm not the only mom who looses her temper and throw's pj's at dad saying that I'm done!!


Oh wait I thought we all had those types of nighttimes. You mean there are actually compliant children that actually listen when they're asked to go upstairs, take off clothes, get in the shower?

That really exists?

Screw this then..I'm selling 2 kids and a husband and moving..wherever that place is.

The Other Laura

This is really beautifully true. Thank you.


I so relate to this story. I scold myself for not being playful when she's being willful, or for not thinking of whatever mystical solution will get my 3-year-old daughter to obey. But Gosh Almighty, sometimes you just want them to DO what you SAY because you're the freaking adult. And then I worry that I'm too passive and she's going to grow up to be a hooker because I didn't tell her "No" enough. Sigh.


What parent hasn't thought about better times when things are tough? I know I have. I hit a moment when I've totally lost my cool and I remember a time when I totally rocked this parenting gig. Maybe I'm hoping it will provide a little inspriration. I dunno. The point is we're all guilty of that and it's absolutely normal.


This is the same whether they are 4, 6, 13, 17. I often wish I could be less "the variable" and then I wouldn't have to hope that all they remember is the good...

*you dont OWN a scrapbook!?! The shame! What DO you do with all your free time??


Truthfully I think even moms of "normals" have those days, but I can relate. My 8 yo daughter is bipolar and ADHD, and for every time that I have handled her with equanimity there are two more times where I have not. Like this morning when her brother was playing with a game in the car as we were leaving for school/work and she decided she didn't want him to DO THAT so she stood in my garage screaming at the top of her lungs. As I had already very successfully and calmly navigated the getting out of bed tantrum, the getting dressed tantrum and the taking medication tantrum, I suppose it would have been too much for the Universe to allow me to get past this one as well. I lost my shit. I screamed at her to get in the car. I walked forcefully behind her as if I was going to lay a hand on her (which I don't and didn't) to physically intimidate her into getting in the car. When she finally got in the car I slammed her door. And my door. And grumbled and bitched the whole five minutes until I dropped her off. Then had to apologize to her for my own sanity.

Its not OK, but it happens. It is normal. This life with high needs and special needs is really fucking hard sometimes. I hope your evening contains, as mine does, a nice glass of wine and some chill time.


Don't beat yourself up. No one can be "that mom" all the time. No one can be the perfect wife/employee/friend all the time either. It is not selfish to want a little cooperation from time to time. Even from a 4 year old.
Now I need to sit here and figure out how to manage being the variable.


Amy,you are able to capture the emotionally draining and uplifting aspects of parenting perfectly. I have found myself saying to my husband about our 3 year old daughter lately that she'll be lucky to make it to 4. But like you, I try (eventually) to take a step back and remember that she is, in fact, only 3. You are a good mommy and even better person for having the courage to discuss not only the shining moments but also the ones we would rather forget ever existed. Keep on keepin' it real. Its nice to know that we aren't alone.


Okay, this just made me flat out cry. Because a) I'm a sleep-deprived emotional wreck today and just this morning I was sobbing to my husband that I wanted my mommy because I thought I was a terrible parent and possibly the worst human being alive, and b) I know, I KNOW. And I'm really not proud of my impatient self. I want so desperately for my Sweet Girl to remember when I don't eff it up, and when I'm calm and rational and get it RIGHT. I don't want for my impatience and frustration to taint her childhood memories or how she sees herself.

How on earth do you people with more than one kid do this?!


you do understand, fellow mother, that we praise your success from the ocean experience not because we think it is or could be or should be the norm but because we completely understand why it is not and cannot be. mothering requires more of us than is humanly possible and, for the most part, we deliver. the days when we pull out our very best and manage a parenting coup are amazing. but, amy, so too are the days when you storm out, throw jammies and then go back into read a story, dripping with guilt. in fact, those days matter more because it's okay for your children to know that you are human. it is okay for them to see you lose it and then show them how to get it back. it is a wonderful memory for noah to know that no matter how mad you get, you will be back. there is nothing more powerful than the security of knowing that mommy will always be back.

in some circles the competition of motherhood does now allow for support on all levels and we have to pretend that every day is like your day at the ocean. you are lucky to have this website where the support and respect is more genuine.


I think we are all that parent sometimes. My kids drive me nuts a lot of the time when they don't do what I want, when I want them to.

We are all just taking it one day at a time.

Kimberly C

I commented to your last post saying that you were a genius. You are, for that moment down at the beach, you knew how to fix it, to make it okay. This parenting thing is HARD- I never thought that you were a perfect mommy- if you were, I wouldn't read your blog, because *I* am not perfect, and I can make myself feel like shit for it all by myself, I don't need someone else's stellar example to do that for me.:) I read because of the realness you have, the dirt and the headaches and the just !!!!!! that goes with it, while knowing all the while that it's worth it, so worth it.


I've already felt moments like this and I've only been a mother for 10 months. When my daughter would not sit still so I could take the hair-tie out of her hair, I had my husband hold her down so I could do it. She cried and screamed because there was a knot.

Later, the lightbulb went off and I realized I could have just snipped it with scissors. Duh.


And this is why we think you're awesome. Because you're real. And you're honest. And you make us feel so not alone.


Dam it Amy, you are acting human. Stop it. Ha.

Truth is, we all have those amazing parenting moments, like in your beach post. We also all have those shitty parenting nights, like you just described. Parenting is the hardest freaking job in the world. They didn't come with books titled: Parenting THIS child, for dummies. I needed one for each of my kids.

Four is a challenge all in it's own. Ezra at four, will be a challenge, in his Ezra way. It's the four.

The thing to remember is that we are human. We can always try again tomorrow. Also? They are human too. Small, depending on us, amazing little humans. They get frustrated just like we do, they just show it differently.


I commented on that last post about the ocean. And I too am like you in those moments. Enraged, frustrated, ready to throw in the towel, literally. I too am maybe 50/50 on a good day.

I too am scared shitless that it will be the bad moments that will not only be the moments he remembers, but the moments that shape him. I am in a constant battle with myself to be BETTER, to hold my shit together, to be creative and fun and silly, to choose the better path and not descend into the JUST LISTEN TO ME RIGHT THIS SECOND, into the hard grabbing of arms, the throwing of clothes unto the floor, the adult tantrums and then the GUILT.

I wish I could be that mom by the ocean during every hard moment, just like you. But I'm not yet and I don't know that I'll ever be. But I'm trying my best and so are you and what more is there than that?

This is why I pray.


i just sat down and read this after a 20 minute screaming session with my non-napping 2.5 year old (luckily this time he was the only one screaming) that ended only because i finally gave in and sat down and sang 3 more songs with him. and then he calmly settled into bed and closed his eyes. that was all it took and yet most of the time i resist even that much. why? gah. i can so relate to this post.


I actually had one of these moments yesterday. Felt guilty but then gave myself a bit of slack because I'm sick (literally) and tired and alone (hubby in Afghanistan) and going to school and trying to get things started professionally. We're moms but we're also human. Hugs!


You are the variable. But... can I disagree with you on one thing? Noah's not the constant. Any relationship, even one with such a great disparity in age and responsibility and experience, is a give-and-take, a dance. Kids like Noah take more, and differently, and they give differently. And sometimes what they give isn't something we're able to perceive or receive until later. (Not that you don't do a great job of highlighting the good and wonderful of Noah. And Ezra.) In any dance, there's a moment when the partner who leads needs to turn the other, and sometimes while they're perfecting the move they both fall down. I firmly believe that as long as you keep saying, "I'm sorry" when you screw up, Noah will perfect forgiveness and focus on the positive.

Oh yeah, and by the way, do you remember that post so so long ago when you talked about how nobody tells you that sometimes, a baby screams and doesn't cooperate and you want to hit them so hard, and instead you went and threw shoes? You've practiced, not full disclosure I'm sure, but honesty, since he was born. You're not a fraud.


Well-put, honest, and introspective. I really value little windows like this into the mom-special needs child dynamic - because it feels like they shed light onto ANY parent-child dynamic. The specific becomes the universal - or maybe always was.


Oh Amalah,

we all have those horrid moments. Do not feel alone. So far, mine is 17 and still speaking to me. I still remember the day I stomped down the hall when he was 4 and shouted "someone needs a time out!" It was me...


"But I don't get to pick and choose what he remembers." That line really resonates with me. I think about that often, how I can't go back and delete the bad stuff leaving only sunshine and rainbows for her to look back on. I'm a good mom and my child always knows I love her to the moon, but sometimes I yell. And now that I'm dieting and exercising the yelling... well, it's a little quick & scary at times. I don't wanna be that mom. I know none of us do. But it's nice to know I'm not alone.


"Noah -- is actually the constant. I am the variable."

I think we could all switch out Noah with the name of our own children. Great point Amy!


The good and the bad. Isn't that what makes this wild ride called parenthood fun and freakin' educational?

I read a strictly parenting blog that suggests that if you have problems with your kid you need to look to yourself first. We ARE the variable.


Thanks for beoing so honest and being a voice for all of us in our NOT so shining moments.. Mine is 3 and bedtime isn't fun here either..


When my son was ~2 - at least in attitude, if not chronological age - he was incredibly difficult to get dressed in the morning. I did everything "they" say not to do, but I was desperate to get myself to school (am a teacher), get my older son to preschool, and get him to daycare. It was a carefully timed routine; I would do anything to not throw us off. I followed him around the house, taking off one piece of pajamas at a time, then putting one piece of clothing on at a time. Not one of my finer moments.
One morning, he was being especially difficult. I got all of the clothes off, but for the love of everything could not get a diaper on him. We had crossed the point of no return: we were officially LATE. So, I finally went through on my threat: I put him in the car naked. NAKED. My older son (who was 5) looked at me like I was insane. I was scared about snapping his nakedness into the carseat, so I didn't even buckle him in. So, yes, I drove down the street with a naked two-year old standing up, screaming (at this point, he really wanted his clothes on), and a five year old saying, "Really, Mom?" in a way that I think inspired Meredith Grey.
of course, I only drove about 1/2 mile, before he was screaming too much. I pulled over, and got him dressed on the side of the road. Did I mention this was winter? Yep. Story just keeps getting better.
We all have our bad moments. We all hope that they remember the good; when they remember the bad, turn it into a joke REALLY fast. That's my strategy, now that they're 11 and 8. :-)


You wouldn't be a mom if you didn't loose your patience sometimes. You do, I do, we all do.
As much as I love your final sentence about you being the variable, not's not true. I'm sure there's been times when he's gone to bed nicely (few and far between though they may be). Don't be too hard on yourself. Own your supermom moments, let go of the rest.
I always think about the Oprah interview with that guy who was homeless with his son in "Happyness". Such poignant memories of sleeping awake in a locked subway bathroom with his son in his lap, crying about the state of things and how little he was able to provide. Oprah turns to the son who is now grown (late teens-ish) and asked how he felt about that day and that time in his life and he said "I don't really remember it".
There will be just as many; if not more, happy memories that Noah takes with him when he's older but hopefully there will be enough memories of you loosing your patience that he'll know you're real, that you did your best, that you love him always.
I say all of this with love by the way, as I am a big fan!!!
Have a great day!

terri Wright

'I am the variable." That's amazing.

Kate @ And Then I Was a Mom

But that's what parenting is all about (I think). The games wouldn't be as successful as they are if they didn't include the sweet, good behavior you teach during tricky bedtime routines. In other words, you need yelling to have fun.


Awesome post, Amy.

Parenting is humbling. Our kids teach and mold and develop US way more than we teach and mold and develop them. No doubt about it.

He'll be fine. He'll be awesome. He'll know that parents are human too and he'll learn patience and forgiveness and all sorts of other things while he's teaching you what you need to learn.

Symbiosis, this parenting gig.


Amy, you could totally have written that about me. You just told MY story too. Except that my difficult son is twice Noah's age. I have those days more than I care to mention, more often than not...8 years worth, in fact. It took finally having an "easy" child 2 years ago to understand that it's not just me being a bad parent. My son is DIFFICULT. There, I said it. Fortunately, finally (FINALLY!) we've found someone- a developmental pediatrician- who's helping us understand Ben and his challenging temperment and, more importantly, giving us strategies to work WITH him instead of against him. The respect thing and the, "Because I'm the mom, that's why!" That is SO me on a daily basis and I'm only now, 8 years later, starting to find a better more effective way of handling things. Believe me, I get where you're coming from. TOTALLY. It's what keeps me coming back here every day- knowing that somewhere out there, someone is facing the challenges of keeping it together in the trying moments of motherhood just like I do (and maybe feeling a little bit guilty about it just like I do too) Here's hoping that you'll be able to find that solution sooner than we did. And until then... there's always wine, right? ;)

Mariana Perri

I truly think you have described what 99.9% of all mothers think at the end of most days! Come one... are you "guilty" of being human? Are you "guilty" of running out of patience after some 30+ minutes of feeling your inner ear vibrating in a frequency you never thought possible? If you are, well... so are most mothers!
My child has no sensory issues whatsoever... she is your basic 2 year old child who was blessed with the capacity of speaking clearly since the age of 18 months... she is just an average toddler... but, yes, most days I face at least one "ARRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHH" episode, and when she is tired, sometimes I have to deal with a few more.
Right now we are having daily "Leave my poop alone in my diaper" battles!
And, yes... she is my only child... I don't even have to deal with a second yelling kid who seems to desperately need my attention 24/7!
More often that I would like to admit I will throw the towel and say: "Have it your way... I am just too tired to deal!!!" Then I leave her to the care of my husband or any responsible adult I trust and I go hide somewhere (My personal favorite hiding place, at this moment, is my walk-in closet!) and I just cry my eyeballs off!
Then I go back and I am blessed with a sweet: "Mommy, I love you sooooo much" and a kiss. And that is when I remember that I might not be such a lousy parent after all...
Welcome to the club, dear!

Heather Ben

But... You forgot one part of the equation. Your love for him is constant. You aren't perfect but you do your best. Thanks for sharing the good and the other. You are my favorite blog to read and it is bc of posts like this.


Two words: You. Rock

Erin (Snarke)

I don't have kids so I can't relate to this on the Mommy level. I can tell you that I was raised by a Mom who yelled first, punished second and tried to understand...never but STILL stands firm in her "you were IMPOSSIBLE!" stance and Noah is very lucky to have you as a Mom. I think that what he will remember are the good things and, most likely, lovely moments that you might not have thought were anything special but meant everything to him. My favorite memory of growing up with my Mom is of when I was three or so and she was teaching me how to make capital G's ("you make a C and then you add a little shelf so you have somewhere to keep your jars of jelly beans!" and then we drew jars of jelly beans on the "shelf") and she? doesn't remember this happening AT ALL.

Even the most even tempered people have moments of annoyance and irritation. If you didn't have those moments I'd worry about you :)


THIS, this entry, right here, is why I love your blog. Introspective and honest and blunt, but still determined to be better. Although to be completely honest, I also read it for the awesome baby pictures, the Noah stories, the funny stories, the advice, etc. ^_^


You know, you're only human. We all have moments where we reach our breaking point. Most of us feel awfully guilty for those moments too, but we definitely all have them. Sometimes it's just too much when you've been touched and jumped on and stressed all day and all you want is a few minutes peace and it is so hard to get those minutes you just want to scream. Don't be so hard on yourself.

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