Managing My Anger.

393 days of loving more!

This is a hard post to write.
You know, sometimes it is just really hard to share the truth.
And not because it is that horrifically awful but because I don’t want to hear myself speak the truth. Because I don’t want to relive the truth. I don’t want to feel the frustration and disappointment all over again.

And that is what I feel right now.

Yesterday wasn’t a good day. I simply wasn’t the mom I hope to be, I wasn’t the mom I know I can be but more so, I simply was NOT the mom that my oldest needs me to be. I wasn’t there for him yesterday. I wasn’t there for him. And that just breaks my heart into a thousand pieces. He is so young and trying so hard to navigate his social anxiety and he needed me to help and instead of being as patient and empathetic as I know I can be, I was snappy and irritable.

Did I yell at him? No. (Phew. Then I would really be feeling dreadful.)
But did I pick him up less gently than I would have liked when I put him in time out? Yes.

Did I keep piling on expectation after expectation on him when I knew he couldn’t handle them, or anything at the moment and just needed me to help him calm down? Yes.

Did I start to get all exasperated with the situation instead of crawling under the dining room table with him and just holding him, and loving him, and telling him how much I love him and that it will be okay? Yes.

Like I said, yesterday wasn’t such a good day.

My son hid under the table because he was struggling. He was overwhelmed and angry with me for saying “no” to something and didn’t know what else to do. It was actually quite brilliant – he made a fort out of the chairs so no one would bother him and so he wouldn’t bother anyone and get in trouble. He built a fort to protect himself…because I didn’t offer him the safety that he sought.

My son barricaded me out. And while it is wonderful that he demonstrated how to handle his emotions on his own, it still was a hurtful reminder that I wasn’t there for him. That I saw his S.O.S. signs and ignored them because I was frustrated at the moment. That I sensed my OWN S.O.S. signs that I was losing it and ignored them because I was tired and embarrassed by his behavior in front of our guests.

I don’t like any of the definitions of Anger so a while back I created my own. I try to keep myself in the G and under range otherwise yelling becomes more and more tempting!

Yes, I sensed that I was Annoyed and I let it grow to Negative feelings. I started thinking, oh he is acting so awful, instead of thinking, oh he is acting so overwhelmed and wanting help. And I let that negativity push me into an awful state of Grumpiness where all I did was be short and snappy with him instead of patient and loving. (By the way, short and snappy? Not really helpful in situations like this!)

I would love to lie and say that when I sensed I was heading past the grumpy stage, when I sensed that I was headed towards Exasperation (and potentially yelling) that I walked away and listened to all the advice that I share with you on my blog – like having a hug-of-love instead of a tug-of-war, like stomping my feet like a Rhino to stomp out my frustration, like “snapping” out of it – and that helped me keep my growing anger tame and helped me be more loving, but I didn’t.

And I would love to lie and say that even when I knew I was being overly snappy, even when I knew I wasn’t reaching my hands forward to pull the chairs back to go under the table with him but rather abruptly putting them on my hips in pure exasperation, that I finally heeded my S.O.S. signs and walked away for a breather so I could squelch my growing anger.  But I didn’t.

Oh and I would love to lie and say that I finally sat patiently on the floor near him and waited for him to come out of hiding instead of leaving the room, but I can’t. I can’t lie.

But what I can do? What I did yesterday. After feeling disappointed in myself that I let myself get past level “G” of anger, after feeling disappointed that I let myself get all exasperated instead of using one of my tips to get to a place where I could be empathetic, after feeling disappointed that I didn’t do what I know I needed to do in that situation, I finally said to myself the one thing I say to many of you all when you feel frustrated from yelling:

“Forgive yourself. You are only human. You are not perfect and you don’t need to be. Pick up and move on to the next moment.”

Yes, I am only human. I am not perfect. And that’s okay. Yes, I don’t yell but yes I do still have moments where I wish I parented a little better, a little softer, a little more lovingly. Yes, yesterday was one of those days. GOSH how I wish I tore back the chairs and grabbed my son in my arms and held him like a baby and told him “I love you. I know it is hard and I know you are frustrated with yourself and with me. But we can get through this, okay? Just let me hold you and love you. We both need it.”

GOSH how I wish I did that because then I wouldn’t have felt all frustrated, sad and annoyed with myself later that day for not staying as cool as I like. But again, I didn’t pull the chairs back and I did get more frustrated than I like but dwelling on it longer than I did would not make matters better. Dwelling on it yesterday, and even today, will just bring me down and keep me from being able to try my best in the next challenging moment. And dwelling on it, well I learned early on that dwelling, especially when I feel like I “failed” is a big ‘ole trigger. Yes, it is pretty hard to keep my emotions in check, it is very hard to keep them G rated or below, when I am dwelling on something.

So yesterday I forgave myself, I loved myself and celebrated that I didn’t yell and eventually when I did all that, well I was able to love my son how he deserved and how I wanted to. It was a little late, but better late than never….

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I wrote this post Tuesday. Today we had another hard moment. But today, I immediately dropped to my knees and went under the table with my son. I can honestly say that if I was still dwelling on Monday’s episode (which by the way, the old me would have been), I wouldn’t have been able to go under that table today because I would have been in a huge twit still, completely incapable of remaining calm and loving. Yes, I would have been stuck feeling even more exasperated. So yeah, not dwelling feels way better.

 

 

L.O.V.E. Saved the Day!

390 days of loving more!

(This is not intended to offend anyone. I share it because it is real and a real trigger. When I identified this trigger back in October (read here), it helped me to acknowledge it and work with it instead of letting it make my desire to not yell impossible!)

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Simply put, today I blame P.M.S.

Yes, you read that right. I blame P.M.S. Today was the most horrifically, long, difficult day in ages and I so very much wanted to scream every single moment! The kids weren’t especially challenging, I was just especially so not with it! I had no energy. I had no patience. I had no desire to actively parent. I just wanted to be left alone! At one point today when I was clearly about to lose it over what, um nothing, I turned to my husband and said,

“DUH! I know why I am such a mess. It’s P.M.S. This big ‘ole zit on my chin that is screaming to be popped should have been the dead giveaway! And the fact that I can’t keep my eyes open? Duh!”

His loving response? “Good thing I’m getting on a plane in an hour then, eh?”

Ha! He had a good point! Yes, good for him, not for my boys! Once he left it went downhill. P.M.S. just puts me on such an edge that it is hard to stay calm and loving! I recall a post I wrote in October about what P.M.S. really stands for and today I stand by that even more so. It doesn’t mean Putting up with Men’s Sh*t as I thought in my teenager years and it certainly doesn’t mean Pre-Menstrual Syndrome. No, P.M.S. definitely stands for Pushing Me to Scream!

And that is exactly what was happening today! Everything was pushing me to scream. At one point, the fighting over who sat where on the couch for T.V. really got to me and I said, “That’s it! Mommy needs exercise, we all need fresh air, let’s go!”

I was so proud of myself for taking control of my trigger only to be frustrated minutes later when #1 and #2 started fighting over who found the super, huge, “perfect” pinecone first and wouldn’t stop screaming in the middle of the neighborhood. So we turned around and went home. I separated everyone into corners with books and started to cook dinner. I popped outside for two seconds to put food on the grill and returned inside to hear,

“Mommy! #4 is drawing on the kitchen wall with the dry erase marker.”

Are you kidding me?! How did he get it down?  I started scrubbing and scrubbing and it didn’t come off. ARGH! Well thank goodness for Google. “Apply hairspray and scrub with dry cloth.” Worked like magic. Of course once that was solved…

“Mommy, #1 threw something at me!” and then

“Mommy, mommy, I peed in my underwear” cried #3 and soon thereafter, now what 30 minutes past the great pinecone debacle of 2013, #2 started up AGAIN

“Mommy, but that was my favorite pinecone ever! There will never be another one.”

Oh. My. Gosh. ENOUGH! Enough of the craziness, the yelling, enough of my P.M.S. pushing me to scream even more so than a normal situation like this! So I started saying to myself over and over and over again “L.O.V.E. your kids Orange Rhino. L.O.V.E. them.”

My peaceful thoughts and attempt to regain composure were interrupted by the best line of the late afternoon:

“MOMMY! The grill! It’s on fire, look at all the smoke!” Yes in all the commotion I forgot that dinner was on the grill and was properly getting burned. Perfect! I ran outside, shut the door, threw open the grill, grabbed the spatula and instead of taking the food off the grill….just threw my arms up in the arm and let out a big ‘ole  “AHHHHHHHH!”

And then, again, instead of taking dinner of the grill (P.M.S. also sucks any rational thinking out of my brain), I started laughing.  What else was I to do? Right, save dinner. I salvaged the Italian Sausages and prayed that my boys would eat them without fuss. They did; phew. As we were headed up to bed, #2 said, AGAIN:

“But Mommy…my pinecone. Seriously, it was the most perfect pinecone ever!!!”
(Oh my gosh, enough with the pinecone!)

And that’s when I realized it was time to post on Facebook; it was time to let some frustration out or I was really going to lose it. And that is when I started saying “L.O.V.E.” over and over and over again. Just writing on Facebook, just sharing the L.O.V.E. mnemonic that, pushed me back to somewhat normal. I empathized with my son over the lost pinecone. I observed that my son peed in his pants because he was exhausted and because I hadn’t reminded him after nap to go. I verified that my oldest son had thrown the book earlier because he was pissed that daddy left on Sunday instead of Monday. And then I listened to myself say…

“Orange Rhino, P.M.S. is pushing you to scream. Not your kiddos. Take a deep breath. Bedtime is now. You can do this.”

Yes, L.O.V.E. saved the day…again! I remember writing in October that I never really thought of P.M.S. as a legitimate trigger. But it is. Today just proved it. And it proved to me that when it comes, it is a brutal, hard trigger to overcome. I can try to manage it by exercising and eating healthy and getting rest (which I did do today, I slept in a whopping 42 minutes), but if all that fails because life happens, well then thankfully I can always turn to L.O.V.E.

Click here for the original post: What P.M.S. Really Stands For