PART 1: So tonight I lost it...

Sometimes I think that it isn't so much life that lets us down as expectations.

I expected tonight to be a great night.

Tonight we were supposed to continue a tradition that my husband and I started a couple of years ago for just us. A special tradition created just for our family. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, or perhaps naive, but some part of me still believes that there is magic in specially created traditions. I wanted tonight to be magical. I was so looking forward to it that I had one of the best days I've had in weeks.  I managed to clean my entire bedroom and get myself and my Littles up, dressed, and fed before 10 am. I got all of the endless loads of laundry not only washed and dried, but they actually managed to get folded and put away properly. I finally tackled the daunting stacks of dishes that were slowly taking over every inch of counter space in my kitchen. I finished wrapping all of the Christmas presents. I made a vegetarian lunch of angel hair pasta, squash, zucchini, red bell pepper, and a balsamic shallot sauce and had it ready when my hubby came home for his 30 minute break before heading back to his internship.

All of this, all of it I did because I was so excited about our Christmas Tree tradition.

Every year, after the Thanksgiving festivities have ended, my husband and I take our Littles and go to pick out a live Christmas tree. There is a specific place we go to buy it. Our Littles love the decorations and real reindeer. My husband and I love that the lumberjacks who bring the trees down from Washington also work as King Crab fishermen half the year and sell the most Amazing crab that they catch in Alaska. I was so excited for it, so excited to see my Littles' faces light up at the reindeer and the lighted decorations.  I was itching to go as soon as my husband got home from his internship, but he said he needed to get some work done for his master's program. So I fussed and I waited and I got my Littles completely ready to go in anticipation, and finally he closed his laptop and said to load up the car. It was dinner time by then, and my husband said he now needed to eat before we could even look at trees, or he was going to pass out. Alright, I could deal with that, I suggested a restaurant close to where we needed to go and he agreed. Then, the night started to unravel.

We got to the restaurant and ordered and it began as a lovely meal. Then, my older Little realized that this very nice restaurant had a playplace inside. I made Little wait, and we made it through half of dinner with Little only looking longingly at the slide now and then. My husband sang the praises of his meal and scarfed it down, and then immediately asked if Older Little wanted to go play.

This should have been sweet, if I were a better person I would have just appreciated that he was trying to be a fun dad. But I'm not a better person, and quite frankly I was upset. Upset because I wasn't done eating, and my husband just turned to Little and said Little could go play. I expressed that I didn't really feel like sitting alone at a table and finishing my meal, but it was too late, he'd already said it, Little had heard and there are no take-backs with a toddler. So off he went to the playplace with Little. Baby Little, who had been peacefully sleeping up until this point, of course then decided to wake up and begin crying. So there I sat: crying baby, meal half eaten, feeling desperately exposed at a table by myself, and frantically looking around trying to get my husband to come back so we could pay the bill and leave. It was probably only about 5 minutes, but they were an excruciating 5 minutes, and after a long day of the uphill battle that is being a housewife (especially on a productive day) I simply felt like bursting into tears. Then my husband comes back with a screaming toddler. Little is wailing. Little doesn't want to leave. Little wants to keep going on the slide. I feel the tables around us watching. They've already been giving me looks for the crying baby, and now, Now Terrible Mother in the corner has a tantruming toddler. My husband just goes to grab the check, avoids Little's tantrum, and asks me what my problem is when I start to snap at the screaming child. That just seems like too much to bear for me, the unfairness, the unthoughtfulness...and I lose it. Right there in the restaurant I start yelling (albeit in more of a fierce whisper than a yell, but still it was obvious) at him and at Little.

And Little, just keeps going, escalating more and more, and now everyone is staring and the employees are trying to step in to quiet Little, and my husband is just sitting there. I tell Little that there will be No Christmas Tree tonight if the fit doesn't end, but it still doesn't. I'm in a frenzy now, overwhelmed by anger, shame, and anxiety. I can't stand it anymore, so I pick up my coat & bag and drag (literally) Little out the door and to the car where the fit continues and I sit fuming until my husband brings the baby out a few minutes later. He goes right to Little and starts to calmly speak with Little about what is wrong and how we need to have a calm voice. I feel the fire burn in me even more, because I'm upset and the whole ordeal was terrible for me, but he doesn't comfort me like that. He just starts to argue with me about my parenting and tells me that I'm making the situation worse and that just makes me feel like even more of a terrible mother, even though I know at this point that I'm so far gone and that I AM making the situation worse. I can't stand that he gets to play the good cop while I'm fighting the tough battles all day long, so he gets in the car and we get in a screaming match. We're yelling the whole way past the Christmas tree lot, where I refuse to stop because I don't make ultimatums with my children that I don't intend to keep. He's angry about that and starts yelling about how we won't have time to go any other day. I say I don't really care and why in the world would I want to go with him or a crying toddler just then, anyway. He tells me to stop yelling in front of the children and I tell him that I'm not about to hide my emotions just to make his life easier. And then he sits fuming quietly and I sit fuming quietly, and we go home and sit in front of the TV and absolutely nothing magical happens.

I calm down eventually, he calms down. He apologizes for sometimes shirking off dealing with Older Little's more difficult behaviors. He apologizes for everything. He tries to cuddle. I shake him off for a while but then him and Little both start cuddling me and giving me kisses, one on each side, and I melt. I do forgive him. He eventually goes and buys me a Big Mac and a Mcflurry (to make up for the half of the meal I didn't get to finish), and I say I'm sorry, too.

But what I can't get over is that there are no take-backs. Our night was ruined. I lost control in a way that I haven't lost it in years. In a way that just made me feel so small and so ashamed. It should have just been a wonderful night with my family. I should have been able to just go with the flow and weather the storm, but sometimes I Just Can't. You'd think after years and years of dealing with this disease I'd stop using words like "Normal", but sometimes I long to just be a Normal person who gets through all of that with some grace and dignity intact, the type of Normal person that gets through these episodes without having an anxiety attack, or feeling internal vulnerability, or haphazardly lashing out with emotional poison.

And now my husband and kids are tucked into bed. We've all made up and apologized, but I'm still not okay. I sit here on the couch feeling like I've got a gouging open wound in my chest, because for me these things always bring up old history. They bring up old Shame. That same old Shame that makes me feel like a person who is inferior at whatever I'm supposed to be doing. That shame that comes from having a mental illness, and from feeling like I should be able to control it. But I can't always control it. I do my best, I've gotten leaps and bounds better at managing and coping, but somedays even when I get everything else right I still manage to suck at life. It's so frustrating and disheartening, and truthfully it just makes me feel like a helpless child, again.


  1. If hugs from a stranger help, then you have them. Sometimes anticipating great things gets us through hard times, sometimes it sets us up for a crap time. Being a mom is really hard work - everyone sucks at it sometimes.nAnd sounds like you had provocation.

  2. I'm sorry. Don't sweat it. You are a good person.

  3. Honey, I've BTDT over and over again.

    It sucks giant donkey balls. BIG GIANT ONES!!

    I get it. I really do. I'm soooooo sorry.


    I lost it recently on my husband. In a bad way. REALLY bad way. I tend to swear when I'm really upset or go off on a tangent. Unmedicated (and if you read my blog it kind of mentions the struggles that I continue to have with meds) it gets really bad. And the wrath came crashing down one evening last week.


    Take care of yourself!!

  4. Somehow, Hugs and empathetic words from a stranger are a strong kind of magic...thank you all for entrusting me with it. It Helps <3

  5. Been there too many times to count. It doesn't help that my husband has uncontrolled ADHD either.

  6. I have no idea how I came across this blog, but after reading this post, I just want to hug you and cry with you, even though all this happened last Christmas! I have struggled (such a tame word - need a stronger one) with depression and anxiety for so many years. Thank you for the courage to write your feelings on this blog so others who are experiencing similar trials can know we are not alone. Keep your chin up. Keep fighting! Even though it may be hard to recognize, I know the Savior is always near! Hugs from another DMM :)