Tears and all, this is what I screamed at my child and his friend at another friend's birthday party at the community center, where there were 20 or so children and half as many parents. Mind you, the friends at the party are all in my son's class. Where I am referred to as "Ms. Keating" and I teach cooking and tutor kids in reading and spelling several times a month. I interact with these parents sometimes. I'm not proud.
I had bolted across the floor, heart pounding, expecting to find my eight year-old with his head or finger stuck or being cut off. He was screaming that horrible, shrill, "I'm hurt and it won't stop hurting me" scream and I reacted like any sane mother would: I quickly climbed up into the play structure and crawled into the tiny tunnel, expecting to find a severed finger.
Instead I found two screaming and laughing seven and eight year-olds who had absolutely no idea what I had just imagined. And I lost it.
And then I apologized for yelling. I explained that I was scared. I hugged them, I told them everything was ok, and I exited the play structure to face the parental group. All of whom were either hustling their kids into coats and shoes and making quick exits or deliberately looking away from me--anywhere but at the mom who lost her shit in front of everyone.
It was close to pick-up time anyway, so people were getting ready to leave. The mother of the birthday boy (a good friend) was so sweet and assured me that it was fine, that everyone does it. The mother of the seven year-old who took my yelling along with my own boy assured me that it was fine, and even told her child to apologize to me for scaring me half to death. The other three parents left quickly, probably because that's what they were already doing, but it felt like they were judging me; that they never lose their shit and yell at their own kids. I felt terrible and ashamed. I felt like I wasn't a good enough mom.
I am emotional. I am quick to react, I cry at the drop of a hat, I imagine the worst. I speak before thinking, especially when adrenaline is racing through my body, like when I am stuck in a big group of people and I am practically giddy with emotion already and then I have to have conversations and interact with people...I say stupid, sometimes embarrassing things. And then I spend the next few days reflecting on my conversations, thinking that the people--who witnessed whatever gem popped out of my mouth--hate me, or at the very least were offended. I have talked it through with my close friends and my husband, who all assured me that while I probably shouldn't have screamed obscenities, it was OK. I am not a horrible person, and if anyone did happen to judge me, they just don't know me, and it's OK. They all assured me that they lose their cool sometimes too; it's human nature. And the fact that the kids saw me lose my cool is OK--a good thing, even. They saw a human being having human emotions and that was a good thing.
So yes, I overreacted. Yes, I had an emotional outburst. To all the parents at the party, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I showed your children a side of me that they didn't need to see. I'm sorry I yelled. I'm sorry I swore (oops--I told you I tend to not think before I speak.) But I hope that if you ever lose your cool (as I'm sure you do, just probably not in front of lots of people, ahem) your children understand that you are human. I know my children do.
I am a good enough mom.