It’s usually the little things. Like when Max accidentally squashed blueberries into the carpet today after I warned him a thousand times. And I shouted. And he cried. His wrenching Maxi cry. And he said, “I’m so, so sorry mom”. And then my heart broke because I knew he was.

Or when Milan grabbed at the brownie lollipops we were carefully decorating today. I saw it happening. Those chubby, sweet hands reaching for a tantalizing stick speared in a gooey, sparkly brownie. How heavenly if you’re 2. How frustrating if you’re 36 and trying to coordinate an activity that really shouldn’t have a 2 year old participant. And the more he grabbed, the more I said no. And in true Milan form, he got rambunctious, and ignored, and he swatted and pushed until a plateful of brownies came crashing down. And then I shouted. And smacked him on the hand. Hard. And he cried. His wrenching Milani cry. And then my heart broke when he ran to his room as he does when he is reprimanded, and angry and embarrassed. And later, when we were walking up the stairs with a toy that he so sweetly came to ask me for help with, I whispered in his ear, “I am so sorry I smacked you”. And he said, “No mommy”, which lately is what he says to everything.

Some days I feel like the worst mother in the world. I work too hard. I go to the gym too much. I’m not there enough. Or I am, and I drive everyone crazy. Some days I feel like some errant woman who everyone tiptoes around in case of an erratic outburst. My husband asks if I’m PMS-ing several times each month.

I feel like Mia is scared of me because she’s such a sensitive soul and hates to make me angry. I watch her shoulder hunch a little if I raise my voice.

And then sometimes I forget about Max. My sweet renaissance man, who has to be told something a hundred times and when I finally say, “MAX”, in a sharp tone, I see the surprise in his eyes, and then realize that it’s just because he didn’t hear me the other 99 times. And that’s just Max.

And Milan. Who can be so, so tough. Who pushes and hits and bullies. Because that’s the only way you can get attention if you’re the 3rd in the pile. At least I think that’s the reason. Because when he does get attention, he’s a sweet puddle of deliciousness, who giggles and cuddles and coos with delight. But when you get hit in the head by a rhythm egg, you kind of forget that he’s delicious. Tonight I watched him smack his sister with a large plastic elephant. For no reason other that she was watching a movie and wasn’t watching him. Max spend his life avoiding Milan. Milan spends his life attacking Max. Several months ago I phoned the pediatrician for help after I watched Milan drag Max across the living room floor, by his hair. The doc said he’s grow out of it. That’s true I guess. He no longer pulls Maxi’s hair.

I guess that’s just what being a parent is all about. A constant roller coaster of emotions that takes you through all of the highs and lows in a single day. And I guess that you wouldn’t appreciate the incredible moments if you didn’t experience the crappy ones. I just wish that I didn’t yell during the crappy ones. I think that I need to figure out what kind of mom I want to be. I don’t think it’s something I can leave to chance. Because let’s face it: I know what parenting styles I don’t like. So now I just need to figure out what works. I’ve already crossed off “angelic crafty baking mom”, because that clearly isn’t going to happen for me! In the meantime, I’m off to clean blueberry of the bedroom carpet.