Christmas stresses me out. I never have enough money or time this time of year. On this particular day, I had just walked in the house with the kids and my son went right over to the Christmas tree and started “fixing” the lights. I had just put them on the tree. He pulled at them, and he messed them up. And I got mad.
I really blew it. I said, “What are you DOING?! You wrecked it! I can’t believe you did that!” I went on and on. (It’s so awful when you make such a big obvious mistake.) Anyhow, my son put his head in the sofa pillow and cried. So I went over to him. He kept turning away from me. I apologized. I said I’d made a mistake. I asked him if he wanted to fix the lights now and he wouldn’t touch it. I told him I knew he was just trying to help. This brought more tears from him. He was crying hard. He moved away from me. So I decided not to move toward him.
If I move in too fast when he’s crying, it seems to make him angry, and things between us get harder. Instead, I stayed on the sofa and kept talking to him. I kept asking him if he’d come sit in my lap. Then he cried harder. I guess it helps him feel how alone he feels when I’ve yelled at him. After a few minutes of crying, he came and jumped on my lap! I told him again that I was sorry. Then I said that moms make dumb mistakes sometimes, and that this one had been pretty dumb. He laughed, and we were feeling close again. We wrestled and played for a little while. Then I asked him if he wanted to fix the lights. He said yes, jumped up, and fixed the lights.
— A mother in Berkeley, California