It should have been a fun evening.
The plan was simple: go to the new house we are currently remodeling out in the country and let the boys run around like the wild bandits that they are. After an hour of that, we would pick up Torchy’s tacos, and head over to Mimi and Papa’s house for dinner. Easy. Fun for all. Bound to be a win. Not!! Here is what our hour in the country looked like:
- I’m too hot!
- I’m too cold! (it was 80 degrees)
- It’s too loud
- I want to ride my bike
- I want to ride HIS bike and he won’t let me
- Waaahhhh! Waahhhhhh! Wahhhhh!
- Someone tripped and fell
- Someone laughed at the someone who tripped and fell, and then got in trouble. And then cried.
Fun for all. Then it was time to head to Torchy’s. Here is a little snippet of what THAT looked like:
- baby screamed the entire way there
- children were terrified to be left in the car alone (on the front row, directly in front of the entrance, car doors locked, for the 15 seconds it would take me to run in and grab the bag), so I hauled all three in, baby carrier and all
- toddler wouldn’t walk. Not for any particular reason. Just wouldn’t. So I had to drag him by his arm, while carrying the carrier in other arm
- two of the three kids wrestled on the floor of the restaurant, causing one diner, and one waiter, to trip
- baby cried the ENTIRE time
As I was loading those
evil creatures sweet babies into the car, some guy washing windows said, “You sure do have your hands full”. I give him a polite smile that I’m sure looked more like a snarl. “There’s a whole lotta logistics involved with getting them all around I bet, huh?”. “There’s a whole lotta something. I don’t know what”, I snapped, my eyes (awkwardly) filling with tears. We got in the car, and…….I lost it. Ugly lost it. Shameful lost it. I had gradually been losing my mind over the course of the last two hours, and now it was all going to bubble out. I yelled. I cried. They cried. I instantly felt guilty.
I KNOW as the parent, the “mature” one, I’m NOT supposed to just vomit my emotions all over my children. I am supposed to be teaching THEM how to have self-control (and not by providing them with a picture perfect example of how NOT to act) And yet…sometimes I feel like you would have to be a saint…or have undergone a lobotomy..to not just absolutely lose your… um… crap with your kids.
It’s been on my mind a lot lately, the importance of being kind, gentle, and patient with my children. I even wrote this on the topic. I really WANT to allow the children to enter into my “calm”, versus me entering into their “chaos”. But…lord have mercy….it’s hard. Clearly, I have not mastered it. I have come up with a few ideas that I think can help, though. Allow me to share them with you now. When you are feeling your “mom anger” start to overflow, ask yourself these questions:
- Are you trying to cram too many activities in? I know I am! On any given day, there are just SO many things I want to do, and need to do. There are also SO many things the kids want to do, and need to do. I don’t know why I consistently remain optimistic that we can make it all happen, and it will go well, when that’s almost NEVER the case, but I don’t seem to learn my lessons easily, and I continue to cram 30 activities/errands/playdates/appointments into one afternoon. The result? Anger!
- Do you have the proper expectations, and are you prepared accordingly?: the truth of that matter is, on that fateful day I described above, the baby…the one who wouldn’t stop crying….had been in his car seat for HOURS. We had gone to a doctors appointment for my middle son, where the baby remained in his carrier the whole time, we had driven to pick up my oldest son, and then because the baby’s car seat snaps into his stroller, that is where he remained while the big boys were running around outside. Why WOULDN’T he cry? That’s not fun for him. I know he doesn’t enjoy being in his seat, so I should have made a different plan, that allowed him to have some breaks, where he could crawl around. I also know that my kids refuse to wait in the car for me when I run inside somewhere…so why choose a restaurant that I have to go inside to get food? Because I’m a glutton for cruel and unusual punishment, that’s why. I made a dumb plan. I got what I deserved. It’s really not their fault, and yet what did it result in? Anger!
- Are you actually looking at their little faces while you are yelling, or are you just ranting and raving to anyone and everyone who will listen?: I have found that when I’m frustrated, it’s really easy to snap at them, yell at them, speak harshly to them, etc, if I’m just flying around the house, spewing my rage into space. It’s really really hard though to actually stop, look into their sweet little faces, and still yell.
- Have you stopped to re-group? Re-grouping can look like several different things:
- recognizing that your plan isn’t working, stopping it, and quickly coming up with a new one (like, “go home”)
- removing yourself from the situation momentarily, to take a deep breath, and regain some sanity
- apologizing to your children
- saying a quick prayer with your kids
- just DOING the thing that needs to be done (versus “keep moving kids. We’ll deal with that in a minute”. Just go ahead and deal with it now)