Dad's Guilt Over Losing It on His Son After a Week Apart Is So Relatable

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We've all heard the jokes about how parents are always tired and busy, how we're getting by on Starbucks runs and dry shampoo. But one dad recently opened up about a side of parenting not many people talk about in public -- what it's like to really lose your temper at your kids, and the sadness that comes with it.


Mike Julianelle of the blog Dad and Buried has two kids with the cutest nicknames ever: a 7-year-old known as Detective Munch, and a toddler he calls The Hammer. But in spite of their sweet monikers, they're kids like any other, and Julianelle had a parenting night from hell when he got home from a recent vacation.

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He and his wife had a well-deserved child-free getaway. The boys stayed with their aunt and uncle, while Mom and Dad probably did awesome things we all daydream about like sleeping in past 6 a.m., watching something other than cartoons, and eating at places that don't have a kid's menu. Wild times, for sure.

Of course, they were excited to come home and see their kids again, but as Julianelle explains, the reunion wasn't exactly a Hallmark commercial. "It was 9pm, so The Hammer was in bed, but Detective Munch was up past his bedtime to greet us at the door with hugs and kisses. It was a joyful reunion for all! For about an hour. Then things went south in a hurry."

Sixty minutes. That's it. You'd think being apart for so long would mean you'd have endless patience and your child would be a gem for at least a week in exchange. But a single hour was all it took for reality and the full weight of parenthood to come crashing back onto his shoulders.

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While he doesn't blame his son for what happened that night (the little boy "was up late, hyper and excited to see us, and he's only a little kid," Dad explains), neither father nor son acted his best that night. 

"So it wasn't a huge surprise that it didn't take him long to go from 'I missed you!' to ' hate you!', which he yelled when I told him it was time for bed," he writes. But hearing those words wasn't what made Julianelle eventually lose his own temper. "Every decent parents learns to wear discipline-based resentment as a badge of honor," he jokes.

Just like when many of us reach the end of our rope, it was a bunch of things combined that made him reach his limit. "The long, frustrating attempts to get him to cooperate, to get him to say good night to his aunt and uncle and thank them for everything they did for and with him all week before they left in the morning, to get him to get into his PJs and go to bed."

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Like any parent who sets out to be Te Fiti but erupts into Te Ka before the night is through, he lost it. "Eventually I *had* lost my temper and yelled at him and taken away his iPad privileges and threatened to take away even more. It's not that he didn't deserve discipline in that instance -- he definitely did -- it's just that it didn't need to get that far. Not ever, but especially not on that night."

We've all been there, right? The nights when you put your kids to bed and replay the footage in your mind, cringing at the mistakes you made, vowing that next time you'll be kinder, calmer, more patient. But what made this night harder for Julianelle to shake off than the others wasn't just that it happened after he came back from vacation. It was realizing that as much as he can tell himself he'll never have another fight with his son again, that's just not true. We can tell ourselves we'll never yell at our kids again, but realistically, that's probably not going to happen.

"That's what makes me sad. He's only 7 and it's bound to get even more challenging as he gets older, our communication (or lack thereof) is only going to get worse the more he realizes his dad has no idea what he's doing," he writes. "And I really don't. I've always been honest about how hard this gig is, but just because I acknowledge that doesn't mean I have any clue how to do it, or how to fix things after I've done it wrong."

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Ugh. So true. When you're a kid, you think your parents have all the answers. It's not until you become one yourself that you realize there's no parenting instruction manual and everyone's winging it, crossing their fingers, and hoping for the best. 

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Julianelle's words aren't the comforting, you-can-do-it type that we usually see parents gifting to each other. It's a hard but true fact that we will make mistakes as parents. That doesn't mean we're failing in our jobs or that we should give up. It's okay to not know all the answers. It's okay to fail, to yell sometimes. But as he says, "I just know that I have to try."

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