Not my proudest moment…How I dealt with anger & frustration03 Sep 2009, by Stress in
Let me explain first. I live a blessed life filled with support. So when that support is gone for a week, I really feel it. First, we have a sitter two afternoons a week that was out last week due to a minor surgery. Later that same week on Thursday evening, my husband, who is also a true partner when it comes to our kids and home, left on a weekend getaway with friends.
Now I know there are some women who are single moms or whose husbands travel and are able to manage their children all the time. Unfortunately, the full-time stay at home mom gig is not my strong suit. I readily admit that being a full-time mom is not something I could do well. That statement proved to be true as me and my children’s weekend alone was coming to an end on Saturday evening.
After taking my kids to a museum Saturday afternoon, I had planned a fun evening of staying up late to watch a movie together. As we were having dinner, my head was throbbing. I just wanted to get done with dinner, get the kids ready for bed and relax in front of the t.v. Unfortunately, my twin boys, now five, were quite overly tired. In their wound up state, they decided to spill their milk glasses collectively three times. Once I could handle. Twice, I was frustrated. The third time, I lost it!
As milk slowly ran off the counter, onto the chair, down the cabinet and onto the floor for the third time, you would think there would be some real remorse from my sons. Not that night! My wound up boys stated their apologies and then burst into laughter.
That did it! Being completely exhausted and exasperated, I shouted at them “Get out! Go upstairs now!” As I chased them up the stairs they were shouting how they didn’t want to go upstairs alone because they were scared of monsters. With all the compassion I had left (that would be none by the way) I stated to them, “Good get up there because the monsters love to eat naughty boys!”
Seriously, what is wrong with me? I put the boys in their room and I started to cry. Obviously, at that point, I knew I wasn’t doing a good job of taking care of my kids, as I seemed to be scaring the crap out of them. Hot and heavy tears started rolling down my face and I fell to the floor filled with humiliation for how I had acted. As I sat there bawling on the floor (yes, it was the ugly cry with snot fully running down my face), I was convinced my kids did not love me. I told them as much. I had tried to be good to them by doing fun things with them, yet in return all I got was non-listening, griping kids that day.
My sadness was a real shocker to them! I can think of maybe one other time that I broke down into tears because of them. Right then, they had all felt remorseful, even my daughter who was at least being behaved at dinner. As we all cried, hugged and shared our love for one another, I felt we were moving onto greener pastures. “Let’s move on, clean up the kitchen, get ready for bed and watch our movie.” Smiles and laughter spread through us all, as the relief of the pain had lifted.
The honeymoon lasted no longer than five minutes, I kid you not. All it took was a phone call and my kids were at it again. Seeing me on the phone was an invitation for them to act up by teasing each other. After my repeated attempts to have them stop, I hung up the phone further exasperated and sad.
Again, tears poured down my cheeks. This time, I felt my spirit feel defeated, as I inwardly felt myself shutting down. I didn’t care how my kids got to bed, I just wanted them to leave me alone. I told them how I couldn’t believe after just explaining to them how sad it makes me when they don’t listen that they were at it again. This time, my six year old daughter saw her part in the frustration and was truly remorseful. One of the twins felt sad. The other twin decided he would throw a fit because we were no longer going to watch a movie.
Now if you think this true story is bad enough, it gets worse. I lost it on my son! I pinned him down and screamed in his little five year old face “You JERK!” I continued full of anger “How dare you throw a fit when you see your mommy so sad!”
With that, I sent him and my other two kids out of my room and shut the door. It was clear to me that I needed my own time out. Obviously, the only JERK is the grown person who screams at a five year old– that would be me!
Five minutes later, my kids meekly open up my door. All I could muster up was a voice no louder than a whisper and exasperatedly asked them what they wanted. My daughter spoke up and said “all we want is you.” With that I knew I had to let go of my pain and be there for them. They too were going through their own emotions as they saw their mom, who is usually quite solid, breaking down before them. As I started to get them ready for bed, my son who I berated came up to me, looked deep into my eyes and said “mom, do you forgive me?” My heart melted, looking back into his eyes I said “Yes honey. Do you forgive me too?” Gratefully, he did.
After watching our movie and getting everyone to bed, I was emotionally and physically exhausted. Inside I felt empty, sad and ashamed. Prior to going to bed that night I said to God, “Obviously, not my best day,” which was about all I could muster. The energetic response I received back in my heart had no judgment toward me, rather all I felt was compassion. I was still saddened by all the turmoil of the day, yet I also realized I didn’t have to go down the path of self-persecution.
I share this story with all the gory details for many reasons. One is that I often see both women and men beating themselves up about their parenting. Most all of us have at least one story when we didn’t handle ourselves in the best light. Even though I knew to some my story may be shocking, I wanted the less-than-perfect parents to know that they are not alone.
I also wanted to give you an example of me emotionally “losing it.” Our emotions can show our human side with such rawness and vulnerability that even amidst the ugliness, beauty can unfold. I don’t like how I scared my kids and used my physical advantage on one of my son’s to pin down his little arms. At the same time, there were lessons to be learned by all of us involved. I would have never thought that my sons would understand how their behavior impacts me. They are too little, I thought. Now, they get it.
Even though I temporarily rocked my kids’ world with my emotional outburst, I feel there is good that came from the pain we shared. My kids experienced firsthand that even though for the vast majority of the time I can be a solid foundation for them, I am vulnerable too. In fact, by sharing with them my vulnerability I feel that I and we, as a family unit, become stronger. I showed them from a very raw state that they are needed. I need their support.
From our pain, there always is gain. What I typically share is how to utilize our feelings so that we have less emotional drama. Given how draining this outburst was, I am glad I only go through emotional challenges like this about once a year! Being human, however, we cannot completely avoid the drama. Every once in a while, feelings are bound to pour out of us. When they do, be sure there are big lessons to teach us coming from our pain. Yet, these lessons can only be taken in when our feelings are listened to by us and balanced. Because my kids had not seen me in the state I was in ever before, there was power behind my feelings. The strength of the feelings was necessary in order for the message to be relayed. I say this very cautiously. The point is if this was common behavior on my end, the message would have been lost in the drama. The point is that we have to allow the force that is behind the emotion to come through at times. When we do so, we must always be watchful of how our egos want to take over.
For sure, we do not show our best side when the drama seeps out of us, which is why so many people try to avoid it. Yet, how else would we learn, forgive and grow as humans? Accepting and honoring our less than admirable side is the key to loving ourselves and others more fully. I accept my darkness as equally as I accept my light. Both are a part of me and have their purpose to support me to fulfill my life’s work. As I share and accept my darkness, I hope that you are able to recognize and honor your own as an equally significant and beautifully vulnerable part of you!
With Authentic Love and Compassion,