Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Biter Strikes Again

Zoey is a biter. Until recently, she kept her victims within the family unit (me, Demetri, Gilmore, Boomer). But things are going down hill. Rapidly. She used to bite when overwhelmed or as an exploration, only testing her teeth on toys or the occasional flesh. Now she bites when things are not going her way. Which is most of the time. Like when she isn't allowed to stand on the kitchen table or is told no, she can't play with the chain saw in the garage. Or when it's nap time. Or when she wants the red sippy cup instead of the blue one. And she bites hard. Blood has been shed.

A few weeks ago Niki sent me this article, When Babies Attack. I've been reading it to make myself feel better . . . At least Zoey hasn't bitten off my nipple or removed chunks of skin from my cheek. And then yesterday happened. We were sitting in the play room. Zoey was playing with a puzzle and looking at some books. I was sitting in the chair typing on the laptop. She stood up, tickled my feet, and then put my toe in her mouth, holding it firmly but gently between her teeth. I said the obvious: "NO. No biting." She looked at me, and I swear she smiled a bit. Then she bit. Hard.

My first reaction, after seeing that my toe was still attached, was anger. And not just a little bit of anger either. I had visions of grabbing Zoey, shaking her a bit, and screaming NO BITING! I didn't do it. I left her in the playroom and walked away. Thank god. Then I sat at the table, head in my hands, and cried while Zoey screamed and raged from 15 feet away. I know that as I parent I'm not supposed to admit that I feel things like anger, let alone have visions of shaking my child. But I did. And I have to believe I'm not the only one.

Obviously, the line between thinking about grabbing/shaking my child and actually doing it is an important one. And one I have never crossed. But being close to that line feels . . . terrible. It is the worst of me as a person and as a mother. It's one of those dirty little secrets that most people think should never be spoken about. But honestly, I'm tired of keeping the secret. I know I'm supposed to say that being a mom is wonderful and that every moment with Zoey is blissful. I'm supposed to say that there's nothing I would rather do. In the big picture, that's true -- I wouldn't trade my Reign as Mom for anything. But day to day? Um, hell yes I would rather read my book than read the picture dictionary for the 8th time. I would rather eat bon bons on the couch than change another poopy diaper. I would rather keep all my current appendages and skin that covers them than be bit several times a day. Is anyone seriously going to judge me for that? Probably.

But this post isn't for those people. This blog isn't for those people. This is for the women who tell it like it is. Motherhood is hard. We get angry. We think bad thoughts. We show amazing restraint. We say, I've been there. We tell each other we're doing OK. And we laugh. Sometimes a little too loud or a little too long. Maybe until we cry. We laugh because this journey is so fucking hard and it's good to have company*.

*Much thanks and love to Niki, Kara, and Demetri for all their support yesterday.


  1. Wow, intense post. Hang in there Joselyn! I have no doubt you're a fantastic mom. - Adele

  2. You're damned right it's hard. And exhausting. And full of opportunities to make choices we can second-guess at our leisure, but you know what? You are a great mom. A really, truly great mom. The mere fact you fear the line at all and are willing to talk about it speaks volumes about how seriously you take your job and how well you do it. Every single day.

    And Zoey, if you disagree with any of this, well, bite me!

  3. "Um, hell yes I would rather read my book than read the picture dictionary for the 8th time... Is anyone seriously going to judge me for that? Probably."

    Not if they have kids.

  4. Not if they have a brain, actually.

  5. What a GREAT time for Zozo to be cutting even more little razor-sharp teeth!!!!!

  6. I wish I had a child so we could be in this together. No, wait, maybe I don't! Kidding. You are a masterful story teller....

  7. Joslyne, I don't know you and I'm not even sure you'll see this as this post is from last year, but I had to write b/c I'm reading your blog for the first time (via Carla's blog, which led me to Stinkerbells, and now, here). I just want to thank you for telling it like it is and for not letting the gatekeepers prevent you from doing so. The writing that you and Carla (and other Mom bloggers) do is so important, and brave. (It's unfortunate that our culture is laden with so many taboos that it requires bravery to speak truth publicly, but so it is.) I love the way you two share your experiences, and in doing so, provide laughter, therapy, and the feeling of being understood. Consider me a fan!