I don’t know why, but lately I’ve been losing it with the kids alot. I don’t feel stressed or tired. I feel great. I love being with my kids. So much so that I’m relieved DD isn’t going to the Learning Centre after all, and I won’t have to be away from her for 12 hours a week (you can read more about that here).
And yet this past week or so I have yelled at her more times than I care to count. I have been rough on her. The only thing that prevents me from drowning in a sea of guilt is that she feels confident enough to tell me “that scared me when you yelled” or “I don’t like that” or “That’s hurtful”, etc. She has words for how she feels and she is able to use them and isn’t afraid to use them. I’m proud of that. And I apologize – I always do. Sometimes I wonder how often one has to apologize before it is simply the norm and no longer the exception. But so long as she keeps reacting I am hoping she considers it out of character. I suppose I don’t stop to count all the positive interactions we have, so the negative ones seem overly represented.
I know I’m having issues controlling my temper. I am trying to work on this. I express myself verbally. I’m the type who explodes in a torrent of words and tone and volume when I’m pissed off. My mother was this way and I know I sound exactly like her sometimes. I’m scared that I’m modelling this for my own kids. Scared that DD is going to end up exploding too, instead of being “emotionally intelligent” and expressing herself in healthier and more productive ways.
I was reading a book called “Raising our Children, Raising Our Selves” by Naomi Aldort. Everybody on the GD board at MDC was gushing about it, so I bought it to add to my parenting book collection. It is a good book, but I find the wording to be offputting to all but those who are already most of the way there, kwim? To a mainstream parent I think this would sound like hippy, flaky, yoga shit. Anyways, there’s a technique called “SALVE” which stands for a series of steps for dealing with difficult situations with your kids (whatever pushes your buttons). One of the things she says is to let that voice in your head have its say, but keep it in your head. Run through the litany of things you want to say to your kids, the knee-jerk unproductive, hurtful things. Let it out of your system so to speak. Recognize it for what it is: programming, not reality. I’m trying really hard to do that, but there is an extremely short circuit between my brain and my mouth and too often the words fly out before I can stop them.
It’s true that DD is in a stage of “disequilibrium”. Translation: she is exhibiting some typical 4 year old stuff that infuriates me. I think I’m actually dealing with it better than I did when we went through this last year. I was thrown off-guard then. This time it’s familiar. And this time I know how I want to get through it. I just seem to be having difficulty sticking with the plan sometimes. It’s like I require a certain amount of emotional energy to do it right, and if that energy is lacking I just fall back on the old standby of being a harpy to my kids and getting angry at them. But I can’t explain why the energy is lacking. I’m sleeping pretty well (as well as any mother of two young kids) and life is just great these days. So much to be excited about (like my last post!).
But hey, sometimes I think we need to stop looking for the “pathology” behind bad parenting moments and just accept that it’s normal to screw up sometimes. Maybe there is no excuse other than my kid is 4 and the other one is an exhausting almost-2 and I’m only one person with less than perfect emotional coping skills, and my own set of pre-programmed baggage. Still, I’m going to keep practising and practising mental techniques to cut down on “losing” it. I did better today than yesterday. Baby steps.
Now, I’m finally gonna go back out there and watch the rest of Blue Planet with DD. She’s been calling me for the last half hour and I’ve been blowing her off. I suck for that, too. But mama needed to clear some head space, honey.