Sometimes Moms Lose Their ‘Cool’ and That’s OK

Sometimes Moms Lose Their ‘Cool’ and That’s OK

When good moms have bad moments, sometimes there’s an important lesson to learn.

By Wendy Robinson

Stepping on the sharp edge of a small plastic brick was the last straw. As pain shot through my foot, I could feel my tenuous grip on my temper slipping away.

“That is IT. You need to pick up these toys NOW or I am throwing them in the TRASH.”

It had been a long day, one of those days filled with missed naps and crabby kids and constant nagging on my part. The kids were supposed to be cleaning up their toys before dinner but instead were too busy bickering with each other to do it.

“I’m serious. PICK UP THESE TOYS NOW!”

They stopped poking at each other long enough to stare at me but didn’t move toward the pile of toys strewn all across the family room floor.

I grabbed a trash can and grabbed the first toy I saw and stuffed it in the can. I started moving toward the pile of blocks and stuffed animals on the floor, grabbing more toys and shoving them in.

“You had better GET MOVING …”

My daughter looked at me with tears in her big brown eyes, “Mama! No, no throw Sharky away. My lovey! My lovey!” My son was silent, but his lower lip was quivering as he started to frantically pick up blocks.

I looked down into the trash can and saw Sharky, the stuffed shark my daughter sleeps with every night and felt a wave of guilt. She is only 2, and I was putting her security object in the trash. What was wrong with me? Who does that?

“You guys, I need to take a quick time-out. Keep cleaning up, and I’ll be back in a minute.”

I walked to the kitchen and drank a cool glass of water. I took some deep breaths. I tried not to cry, as I felt the waves of “I am a bad mom” guilt rising. Why did I have to yell? Why is it sometimes so hard to be patient with the little people I love the most?


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“Hey, you guys, come here for a second…”

I sat down on the floor and pulled my little ones into my lap. I told them that I was sorry I put the toys in the trash can and explained that even adults sometimes have a hard time with their tempers. I talked about how we say we are sorry when we have hurt someone else’s feelings or made them feel scared. I listened when my son told me how my mean voice makes him feel bad.

Parenting can be so challenging and nobody does it perfectly, but losing my cool turned out to be, in its own way, a good parenting moment. I got to show my kids how to apologize and how to talk about feelings, and made sure they knew that I always love them even when I use my mean mom voice.

I am a good mom, even if I have bad moments.

What have your “mean mom” moments taught you?

Wendy Robinson is a writer, working mom, and graduate student. Someday she'd like to sleep in again. She also blogs at

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