I’m Actually Not That Mean—Just Ask My Baby Monitor

If you live with a young human, you know what it’s like to lose your patience. If you haven’t reached your emotional limit while a small child tries to set the high score for new decibel levels, are you even a parent?

Despite my best efforts to stay calm and be the adult in the room, I can get frustrated with my kid. I raise my voice and sometimes have to leave the room because I’m so fed up with the situation. After these kinds of incidents, mom guilt creeps in and I feel like the worst. 

On one of these unfortunate occasions, I had time to reflect on the couch in peace while my daughter took a nap. I really regretted losing my cool and feeling like I took it out on her. I had an idea to open the Nest camera app to review the “game tape” of my surly performance, which was caught on our baby monitor. In doing so, I found evidence to the contrary.

I wasn’t yelling, I was speaking firmly.
I was so internally frustrated that I thought I was externally yelling at my kid. In reality, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I actually sounded much calmer than I felt. While I wasn’t using a light-hearted or syrupy-sweet tone, I certainly wasn’t yelling. In fact, I hardly raised my voice. I came across as authoritative, which is one of my parenting goals, in conjunction with a gentle approach

I wasn’t being a “mean mommy,” I was enforcing boundaries.
No matter how frustrated I feel, I never want to be intentionally mean toward my child. Lord knows she’s going to think I’m the Wicked Witch of the West countless times between now and when she turns 18, but I always want my actions to come from a fair and logical place. 

Setting boundaries feels hard sometimes, and I do worry it comes off as “mean” when my child is throwing a temper tantrum in response. When I watched the video, I saw an overtired girl with big, age-appropriate emotions. She needed a nap and didn’t want to take one. I also saw a mom who was enforcing boundaries and keeping her child’s best interest in mind, informing her it was time to rest. I was putting my foot down, much to her dismay, and I was being a good parent. Full stop.  

This meltdown only lasted a few minutes out of countless hours of fun, loving moments.
After reviewing the outburst in question, I found myself scanning the app for other candid camera footage. I watched as so many sweet moments unfolded over the course of our day: Waking her up in the morning as she sleepily stumbled out of her room for breakfast time, having a tea party on the floor with her baby brother, brushing her hair and giving her the “Elsa braid” she requested (which she asks for nearly every day)… The nap time outburst felt big, but these other moments added together are bigger. 

The next time you’re second-guessing your parenting in a challenging moment, review the tape. Check the baby monitor and get a realistic picture of what actually went down. It may surprise you to learn that you handled it better than you thought you did. And hey, even if it really was that bad and you could have done things a little better… I bet you’ll find the redemptive and wonderful moments in there too. So, go ahead and take a look, Mama. You’re doing great.

Originally from the Live Music Capital of the World, Katie moved about the country (Nashville, TN, Seattle, WA and Athens, GA) for several years before settling in the Alamo City with her husband and young family in 2018. She's a lifestyle portrait photographer (always finding the good light), outdoorsy (…as in she likes to drink on patios), and an audiobook and podcast enthusiast (especially psychological thrillers). When she isn’t behind a camera or laptop, Katie is exploring the world with her husband, delightful daughter (2018), cheeky son (2021), and tiny pup. You can find her on Instagram (@hersideproject). Favorite Restaurant: Paloma Blanca 🕊️ Favorite Landmark: Mission Marquee Plaza Favorite San Antonio Tradition: Cascarones