On Becoming the Barking Mom

There are some things you can’t really know until you experience them. This is something I am constantly learning over and over again as a parent. I used to look at the parent with the misbehaving child in the supermarket, or the child who ran wild during sacrament meeting (even making it up onto the podium) and think, “Why don’t they…?” But I will never again say “I’d never do that as a parent.” It has taken years to come to this point, but I’ve been learning that you can’t know what you might end up doing, or what new side of yourself may come out as your parenting role changes (as the children go through different growing up stages, as the number of children you have around changes, etc.).

I was a new mother when I first moved here to Irvine. I had a great life—a mild baby that took naps, and was too little to resist my agenda in any willful way. I made friends with a family that lived in the apartment below us. They had 3 children—the oldest (a girl) in school and two small boys at home. They weren’t quiet to say the least. But it never bothered me. Listening to my neighbor and her friend interact with their children, however, made me think the kind of things I mentioned above. At the time, I wrote a poem (which is where this post title comes from) where I imagine the point of view of our apartment’s former resident—a cat lover and quiet, organized girl lived there with her husband before us.

I now have two small boys (and not necessarily rambunctious by most standards). We live in a new neighborhood and in a town home style apartment, where we have to keep our doors open for homemade air conditioning in hot weather. I have discovered, in the time since we first moved here, that I tend to holler. I come from a long line of holler-ers and it isn’t beyond me to shout to someone upstairs (or raise my voice with someone in the same room), slam doors, and that’s not necessarily only when I’ve run out of patience. I’m just kind of loud. And, I hear myself echoing the ineffective rhetorical questions of my old neighbor (“Why are you doing that to your brother!?”). I tell you this because I recently received a letter from an anonymous neighbor telling me that the volume of noise that comes from our open doors (or from just outside our house when we decide to play outside) is a daily disruption and at a disturbing level. There you go—here is where I have become the barking mom. I’m not sure yet what I think about it. Is it such a bad thing to be? Is it purely a matter of temperament and/or upbringing? Are people destined to become a certain type of parent despite future ideals?

Brooke Jones Williams lives in Southern California with her husband and two children. She is passionate about reading and writing, and all things artistic. She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science.


I am a children's librarian. I have 2 kids. I have a professor for a husband. I obsess about writing and about making things.

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  1. EmilyCC says:

    I love this, Brooke! I thought I would be a far different mother than the kind of mother I actually am, but then again, I’ve only been at this job for 10 months. When I look at how my sister and I raise our kids, I wonder how much our own upbringing comes into play since we had the same parents and yet we parent in very different ways. And, Even though I’m not quite the mom I hoped, I’d still like to think I can live up to some of my parental ideals.

  2. Caroline says:

    Brooke, this is so funny! Particularly because you’re one of the quietest people I know, at least when you’re around adults. If you’re loud as a mom, I can’t even imagine what I’m going to be 🙂

    The older I get, the more I see my mom coming out in me. She was pretty ho-hum about certain church things. For instance, when I indignantly brought up what Paul said in the New Testament about wives obeying husbands and women not speaking in church, mom just rolled her eyes and said that Paul was probably just some ugly hairy little man that women wouldn’t give the time of day. I couldn’t understand why she wasn’t more upset, how she could just brush that off. But I can kind of foresee now that I might answer my daughter similarly – except probably with more of an emphasis on the misogynistic culture which Paul was a part of.

  3. Brooke says:

    Caroline and Emily,

    It’s funny because I also see more of my mother in myself as I get older–too bad it’s not her patience and quiet mothering. I think that these louder parts of my personality (which are less inhibited around my family) come more from my father’s side of the family. While I see in my brother more of the quiet parent my mother is.

  4. jana says:

    When I was little I can distinctly remember the change that would come over my Mom’s features as she would start to yell and get upset. It almost made me want to laugh at her, but really actually made me feel sorry for her and how frustrated she was (she gave birth to 5 pretty rambunctious kids over a span of 7 years).

    Now I often have days where I am yelling at my kids and I realize that:
    1) I am looking just like my Mom when she did this.
    2) My neighbors have got to be hearing every single word that I’m yelling through our paper-thin hall wall.
    3) My yelling does very little to effect any change on my kids’ behavior.
    I also often think of a friend whose neighbor called the police when she was yelling at her boys and she had to defend herself to the authorities. Scary!!!

  5. Mike says:

    Give me advice. I’m still in the “Why don’t they…?” faze.

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  8. mckenzie says:

    “There are some things you can’t really know until you experience them.”