I have been a mother for 10 years. I have two children whom I love with everything I’ve got. They both know it, and my relationship with both of them is very close and very loving.

But I am a yeller.

As much as I always thought I would not be a yelling mom, I have proven time and time again that I yell. When I am stressed or anxious and have a short fuse, I yell. A lot. When I am in a good place and feeling patient and present, I handle my emotions much better. But as someone who manages her anxiety with medication and mindset tools, I am not patient and present as often as I’d like.

Because of the fact that I do have an excellent overall relationship with my children and they trust me and we are great about apologizing when we hurt each other’s feelings or don’t deal with our emotions in the best way, I’ve tended to accept the fact that sometimes I yell. Although I’ve felt a desire to improve, I have tried not to beat myself up over it.

But things took a turn the other day. And I felt shame, heartbreak, and despair.

The other day I saw real fear in my daughter’s face after I yelled at her over something that, in hindsight, was not her fault. It stopped me in my tracks.

She had been interrupting me while I worked, all day long. And every time I reminded her — often with an exasperated tone — that I was working and she needed to entertain herself, she would immediately apologize profusely. I’d then remind her that she needed to go do something on her own. (She’d stayed home from camp because she said she didn’t feel well.) This scenario repeated itself about 15 times during the day.

Fast forward to bedtime. She started asking me to do something I was not going to do, all while I was attempting to maneuver moving a box fan and a chair so I could read to her brother. I lost my temper and yelled. I have no idea what I yelled, but I yelled. [Side note: Let me be clear — I do not yell insults or call my kids names. That is not something that would ever even occur to me to do.]

She screamed, “I’m sorry!” and that’s when I looked at her little face and saw how scared she was. She recoiled into the bean bag she was sitting on as her eyes welled up with tears. My heart broke. I walked over to her and apologized. I told her I wasn’t yelling at her but rather at the fact that I could not handle so much at once and was frustrated.

She started to cry and was still looking quite scared. I gently placed my hands on her and asked her if I had scared her. She nodded yes. I asked her if she was afraid of me. She nodded yes. It took everything in me not to start crying right then and there.

I apologized again. Many times. I told her I never wanted her to be afraid of me. That I was sorry I had scared her. That there was no reason why I should yell. That I wanted to do better. That she and her brother did not deserve to be yelled at. That I was the adult, and she was the child, and there were better ways for me to deal with frustration and stress.

She hugged me tightly, and I lifted her into my arms. She rested her head on my chest.

But I still felt like I needed to do more. I asked my son if he felt scared of me sometimes. Then came the kicker: He said, “Whenever you yell and get a little scary, it’s usually our fault.” My jaw dropped. He was blaming himself and his sister for my shortcomings!

My heart broke again, and I told him, “No, buddy. It’s never your fault. There’s nothing you can do as my child that would call for me to yell at you and scare you. Please know that. I am working on this — I don’t want to yell. I make mistakes every day, but I am getting better and plan to keep getting better.” He seemed to receive this well, and, as he is older and wasn’t as affected by the incident a couple minutes earlier, he moved on.  

But I did not. I have not. This is one of my worst fears as a parent. My kids are afraid of me?! How could I let that happen? And do I have time to change course and ensure that this doesn’t get imprinted in the fabric of their little souls or cause insecurities or negative self-talk?

I honestly hope there’s still time. And I pray that I can make the changes I so clearly need to make. I pray that I will never have to see that fear in my children’s faces again. I want to be the kind of mother my children trust and feel safe with always, not just when I’m in control of my emotions and feeling balanced.

My kids know I love them. I have no doubt about that. But they need to always feel loved, too. And that is worth making a change for.

Angie V Martin
Angie was born and raised in Panama and attended college in Massachusetts, after which she took a couple of years to work in Boston and enjoy the nightlife before attending law school. Soon after becoming an attorney, Angie got married to the love of her life. They set down roots in Jamaica Plain, where they welcomed their firstborn, Henry, in 2012. Angie now lives in Nahant with her husband and two children (little Eloisa was born in 2015) as well as their rescue Boxer dog, Hobie. Angie is passionate about public interest law and serves as the pro bono director at Veterans Legal Services, a nonprofit legal services firm serving Massachusetts military veterans. Angie is also a certified life and leadership coach and loves supporting women and mothers on their journeys in their personal and professional lives. In addition to feeling honored to be a contributing writer for Boston Moms, Angie also enjoys writing in, and translating Boston Moms articles into, Spanish — she is a firm believer in ensuring every Boston mom feels like she/they belong here!


  1. Sure, they have been scared, and then have been supported and loved and gotten through it. We recover if there is repair, which it sounds like was present here. And they’ve seen an adult admit mistakes and be honest about the challenges she’s facing. Kids with a mom this self-reflective and aware are learning a lot.

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