Welcome to “Why I Yelled,” Fatherly’s ongoing series in which real dads discuss a time they lost their temper in front of their wife, their kids, their coworker — anyone, really — and why. The goal of this isn’t to examine the deeper meaning of screaming or come to any great conclusions. It’s about yelling and what really triggers it. In this latest installment, Jeff, a 42-year-old designer and father of two strung out by sleep deprivation discusses why he screamed at the three very special ladies in his life.
Who was the last person you yelled at?
My wife. It’s becoming the new normal in my home, as we’re both yelling at each other all the time.
So when you’re a happy but often stressed family of three, adding child number two just seemed like the right thing to do. Our daughters have a five-year gap between them and that’s enough time to completely forget how many times a night a newborn wakes up to eat. It’s all night.
Our newborn is now eight-weeks-old. Being that tired for weeks takes a toll on you. Especially how you think and react to your spouse. All the little things become a trigger: tripping over things left on the floor, food left out on the table or counter, waking up to breastfeeding and Bravo TV, where horrible people complain about stupid crap.
It does take a toll.
It does. One morning my head was pounding and my insides were shaking, like after a night of heavy drinking but I was completely sober. The TV was really on Bravo and I’m waking up to that nonsense and I’m sure I said something along the lines of, “Turn this shit off or I’m going to throw the remote through the TV and then we won’t have it anymore!” Something like that.
What happened in the last big fight?
Well, there’s been instances like that going back and forth. About 99 percent of all the yelling is for petty, petty shit. So I was feeding our 5-year old when my wife was yelling at me about something that I had nothing to do with but she was fuming about it and couldn’t even be talked to or reasoned with. I was being yelled to and then I was being yelled at.
How did you respond?
I responded immediately with something stupid, I’m sure. Her response was something along the lines of, “You need to control yourself a little better and be responsible for what you do or say.” And I said, “Fuck you, I’m controlling myself by not throwing this juice box at you!” I don’t even remember what was said next, but we’re all still here and married so that’s cool.
Stress and sleep deprivation can make you do a lot of awful things.
Living in a house of all girls really can be nuts. One night, there was a lot of sleep deprivation, my wife was endlessly complaining while my two kids were screaming at the same time for different reasons, and I couldn’t help but yell, “SHUT UP! ALL OF YOU!” Yeah, super classy yelling at a 5-year-old, 5-week-old, and their mom. Once I started getting more sleep, which already seems to be happening, I’ll go back to being quieter and not being combative.
Do you and your wife apologize after every blow-up?
She doesn’t apologize much and unfortunately won’t admit it either. I don’t apologize enough I don’t think. I think it’s more just silent acknowledgment that we’re moving on to the next pile of crap. (Laughs). Ultimately, I just know this is a phase and it’ll get better with more sleep.