I'm human, she's five, everybody poops {A lesson in motherhood}

Caitlin is OCD.  It's not really news to those that know her.  I mean she was the walking definition at two and a half when she lined up every pot and pan in my cupboard from the kitchen to the living room.  She also did this with books, cups, dolls, crayons.  I just laughed and thought it was cute, and said that she would just be highly organized and self motivated.  But really I was worried she would turn out like me. 
I'm not as OCD as I once was.  When I was five, I spent an entire month constantly washing my hands, until they were raw and chapped.  All in the name of washing away the germs that would kill me.  Yes, I told my mom I didn't want to get germs because I would die.  Have I ever mentioned that my Mother is a saint?  So that OCD carried on with me for most of my life until I became a mother.  I had to check a lot of that shit at the door.  But I'm still OCD about germs, poop, and dishes.  I'm not really sure why the dishes made it, but a sink full of dishes just about sends me to the loony bin, and I get a sick satisfaction in loading a dishwasher.  I know, you don't have to say it.
So now that I've set the tone, my kid is type A, OCD, just like her mother.  Since I'm nothing like my mother, this has turned into a situation.  I don't have the patience.  I don't have the empathy.  I forget what it's like to have to have something done a certain way.  I forget what it's like to have irrational phobias.  Then I look at her, crying and telling me she is scared and then it clicks. 
Oh, Crap, that's me.  That's all me in that little body.
What do I do now?
Last week we had to tackle just how alike we are head on.  I didn't handle it well.  There was a lot of yelling, a lot of tears, and then a lot of talking, apologizing, and then more crying.  I'm not the kind of mom that is calm and collected.  It's sad, but true.  I'm a yeller.  I always have been.  I've tried and tried, but.... 
The situation is this:  A few weeks ago I lost myself over poop.  Yup, poop.  Caitlin was doing her thing and for the first time in months needed my help.  For her privacy, now and in the future (sorry, love), I'll just say that it got everywhere.  Like everywhere.  Not her fault as she is only five.  I know, I forget too, that five year olds still have a hard time with the basics that we all take for granted.  But back to the poop, it was everywhere and I lost it.  I yelled, I was accusatory, I was disgusted.  I can admit it, I was way overboard, I was way out of control.  In my defense (if I have one), I was in the middle of dinner, and Mac had just done her own business a few minutes before, so I felt I was up to my eyeballs in poop.  Still, my freak out had a major impression.
Fast forward to last week.  My poor little OCD child, who takes declarations and freak outs in the literal sense, was "holding it in".  She was saying that it was going to hurt to poop, that she couldn't do it, but after two days of trying, Miralax, and crying, we figured out she was just holding it.  It was awful, I was frustrated, she was scared.  And we went back and forth like that for an hour.  Then when I collected my self (a little), I was able to calmly ask her why she was scared, her response,
"If it's messy will you be mad?".
And I broke.
Because isn't this what Mommy Dearest was made out of?  I mean it doesn't get clearer than that.  I was waiting for the phone to ring to get the "Lifetime Achievement for Motherhood" award.  What is even the right response to that? 
I felt like this was my "no wire hangers" moment.
I excused myself and called my BF, who saves me every time.  When I told her the story, with a cracking voice she said, "You are human.  You are human before you are mom.  You make mistakes.  And they can be fixed".  Then she proceeded to give me the correct dialog to apologize to Caitlin, to calm her fears, to help me admit my actions, and to open the conversation.  Thank God, right?
So that's what I did.  I got down to Caitlin's level and laid it all out.  That Mommy makes mistakes.  That poop isn't the worst thing in the world.   That poop is messy, but we can always clean up.  That everyone poops, and it's because it's the healthy thing to do.  And that Mommy was very, very, sorry.
Then I called my mom, to cry and say, "Oh my God she is just like me".  And my mom said to just talk to her, reassure her, but to know that I can't change her or what she believes the first time out.  That it will take time.  It will take patience.  It will take everything I've got.
Have I mentioned I'm not patient?
Like with most fumbles in motherhood there was a lesson to be learned.
But did I learn it?
I'm human.
She's five.
Everybody poops, eventually.


  1. It's really eye-opening to have a kid that's your copy, with the good and bag things coming with it. I hope you both learn to work well with each other!

  2. This is me and Zion exactly. We are so alike and its brutal. We butt heads. I think the worse thing to see was a little girl who started yelling, because that is how she was being communicated to - it must be the way to be heard. Now we both work on yelling as a team. I am learning to be quick to apologize, and try to take a five second time out when I feel the urge to yell. It is tough work, but I know by that look in her eyes when I yell that I have to do whatever it takes to change - even if most the time it is getting on my knees and praying for God to help me!

    Thank you for sharing so honestly - I love when you do! This motherhood business is hard ish.

  3. I think you do deserve an award, for apologizing. That's something my mother never did. An apology goes a long, long way, friend.

  4. You are a great mom for apologizing! It's such a hard thing to do...and I know because I'm a yeller too. I've been working on it little by little with God's grace, but when they get into the office supplies and stick my envelopes everywhere or make other unnecessary messes, it's really hard to keep my cool. Your daughter will learn to respect you, and learn the proper way to deal with problems from the way you are acting though, and it's great that she has such a good example! An example that teaches her that we are all human, and that's ok...especially when you humble yourself enough to make it right :)

  5. I'm a yeller, too. I hate/despise/cannot stand that part of me.

    my kiddo, god... he is me, though.

    I have bene doing a lot LOT lot of therapy and my zombie slayer, bless her... she's not told me or taught me anything...but she's given me something that allows me to see myself?

    I melt down/explode when MY anxiety gets the best of me.

    for 12 years of this kids life and well, the first 4 i really didn't yell. he never did anything wrong.... but the last 8? yeesh. i cry when i think what damage i've done to his poor little sweet psyche.

    because when i yell, he gets overwhelmed at melts down also.... he has the exact same anxiety disorders i have.

    he is me.

    but i'm starting to feel it... that anxiety... that moment where i'm overwhelmed at whatever it is and i explode all over those i care about.

    and i'm trying to learn to hold it in... and i don't know how yet... and some days i'm really good at it and others i totally suck. but i'm starting to feel that rush in my chest... that swirling... and CATCH it. some days i catch it before i explode and i stand there in tears, looking at my husband, going NOW WHAT? I didn't explode... i'm TELLING you i'm overwhelmed... but what do I DO with that over whelm now? when i yell i get it out... but if i don't yell... where do i stuff it???

    but it feels good. to not yell. to catch it. to be able to look at them both... TELL them with my words (lol, oh the irony!) that i'm scared i won't get something done, or that it won't be good enough or whatever my fear/anxiety is...

    it feels really good to catch it... after the fact. when i'm laying in bed and realize i didn't yell at anyone.

    that i caught it.

    you'll learn to catch it also.


  6. I am definitely a yeller too and I can not stand that about myself. It is my worst trait, by far and I hate to see the worst parts of me in my children. I have OCD too and have noticed certain tendencies in my children and I can not help but feel guilty because these are things from me.

  7. Okay, so I read this before bed & I dreamed of you all night! Ha! I dreamed that you & I were in some high school bathroom crying our eyes out about being horrible moms, then we realized we were awesome moms & I woke up happy! lol! So, it's all good. All part of the journey. You're not perfect, none of us are... but you're an amazing mommy! :)

  8. Kudos to you for your honesty, and for apologizing to little C. Kids need to know that parents make mistakes, and when we apologize to them, it shows how much we value them. Aaaaaand that sounds like I just read it off a psychology book. Sorry! I really mean it though! Sounds like you guys are going to get through this whole thing (and by THING I mean childhood) just fine :)