Last night, while giving my son a bath, something terrible happened. I had told him to sit down for about the 800th time and he continued to insist on standing up in the slippery tub. In retrospect, this makes sense. He's just started walking and we are always cheering him on, so why should standing up in this venue be any different than when he does it in his crib or in the living room, right? But it had been a long day of laundry, errands, nap refusal and teething some molars. I was tired. My in-laws had left and that left me doing most of the heavy lifting. I lost it. I screamed at my son to sit down. It was so loud and terrible. I scared him. I scared myself. His little face crumpled and the tears started pouring. My husband came rushing in and offered to take over, which should have been appreciated but instead ended up feeling more like salt in the already gaping wound. I felt terrible. I kept trying to hug his slippery body and calm him down saying "I am sorry, buddy. I am so so sorry." over and over again. He finally calmed down and we were able to finish his bath. By the end of the evening, he was laughing again and seemed perfectly fine but I had a pit in my stomach. I put him in his jammies, read his story, gave him a bottle and rocked him. Thankfully, he was snuggled up on me and couldn't see the tears streaming down my face. I am so ashamed for scaring him. I never wanted to be the sort of parent who loses their temper or terrorizes their child in to obedience. I had the most difficult time falling asleep, the image of his sad, scared face was burned in my brain. Even now, sharing my shame with the blogosphere, my stomach is clenched at the memory.
But, today the sun is shining and my son is too. He doesn't appear to have any lasting damage from my temper tantrum and, with any luck, he has forgotten it. But I won't. I am finding that the hardest thing for me as a parent is letting those mistakes go instead of carrying them around and reliving them over and over and over again. My only hope is that by remembering how horrible I felt, I will have more control the next time my son throws his peas on the floor, refuses his nap, jumps up and down in the tub, or any number of other frustrating habits I have yet to witness but can only be right around the corner.