Okay, sorry, I had to get that off my chest. Tonight was the least graceful bedtime I have had in ages, ages – and it had nothing to do with the kids! I was short. I was snappy. I was taking deep breaths every few minutes, scratch that, seconds because I felt like I was going to blow. I was well, not the mom I hope to be or know that I can be. As much as I want my kids to just hurry up and go to sleep, and as much as I want to hurry them up to just go to sleep, I also want bedtime to be slow(ish) so that they can go to sleep feeling calm, loved, and safe.
I want this not just because I know it helps them sleep better – but also because it helps me sleep better. I cherish goodbyes – even nighttime “goodbyes” because well, you just never know. If I ever have a rough goodbye, it just grates on me until I see my munchkin again and can give him a big, huge hug.
So right now, I am sitting here feeling cruddy. Like I said, ugh! Blech! Yuck! ARGHHHH! And not just because I didn’t have the type of goodnight with my munchkins I crave, but more so because I know better and am disappointed in myself.
You see, I know that the computer is a big, ‘ole, huge gigantic short/snappy/yelling trigger for me and yet, I still looked at it right before bedtime!
I know that checking emails gets my mind spinning about everything I need to do or should do; this just makes me overwhelmed, which makes it hard to not yell in a trying moment.
I know that checking Facebook (my page, not The Orange Rhino page!) somehow always makes me feel bummed that I am not living the life others seem to be living; this just makes me preoccupied thinking about all my “faults.” And a preoccupied mind is a mind that has a hard time focusing enough in the present to remember that (1) I don’t want to yell, (2) yelling doesn’t work and (3) that I can find a way to not yell.
I know that reading some of my favorite sites will somehow send me to a parenting article that I then “must” read. Of course reading the article normally makes me feel incompetent and that I am parenting wrong; this just makes me work extra hard to be “perfect” during all the following interactions with my kids and that amount of stress makes staying calm and not yelling quite challenging.
And yet, five minutes before bedtime tonight, I still looked at the gosh darn computer and visited all the places I know have the potential to put me in a tough place. For real? What the heck was I thinking?! Oh, I know. “Sheila, the kids are playing happily. GO! You have five minutes to sit and decompress and just surf the computer.”
It made sense at the time. Me-time is a great way to relax which is a crucial mindset for a calm bedtime. But clearly, I need a different type of me-time before bedtime. And on that note, I need a different type of me-time right before school starts when there is a lull, and right after lunchtime and oh, let’s not forget before naptime when there is another lull. The pisser of it all is that I know this!!! I know I need to avoid the computer during time periods before the kids leave. I know I need to avoid the computer prior to times when I want to be focused and present with my kiddos. And I know that I can avoid the computer when needed. But tonight, I didn’t and for that, I am disappointed and feeling yucky.
My dad’s favorite line to say to my mom when he does something insensitive that he knows he should have is, “You know, on the test I would get it right. I know the answers. But sometimes in life, I just get it wrong.”
Well tonight, that is EXACTLY how I feel. Here is the thing though. This feeling isn’t unique to tonight. I have felt it in the past and I will feel it in the future. Even though I “know” how to avoid being cranky at bedtime, and similarly even though I “know” how to not yell, there will be times when I get it wrong. It is human. As Alexander Pope famously said, “To err is human; to forgive divine.”
Yes. To err is human…even when you know the answers and expect yourself to get it right. Life happens. Things happen. And that makes mistakes happen. End of story. I cannot control everything as much as I wish, and oh do I wish it. I cannot do everything right all the time as I wish, and oh do I wish it. But do I? Mistakes suck when they happen, oftentimes suck afterwards, but I normally can learn from them and grow from them, so do they really suck? Well, they do – if I don’t forgive myself and let myself grow from them that is.
So tonight I “erred” like a human. And I will forgive myself because it is divine and absolutely necessary so that I can grow and not feel sucky. If I don’t forgive myself, I will not sleep well; and if I don’t sleep well I’ll be cranky in the morning; and if I am cranky in the morning I won’t have the hello with my kids I so very much crave right now; and if I don’t have the hello I crave, then I’ll feel even worse; and if I feel worse, chances are I’ll snap or yell. And so on and so forth. So forgive myself, I must.
Yes, tonight I didn’t get bedtime right. It’s okay! The upside? My “mistake” did remind me that I need to be much more aware and present of when I use the computer, a reminder which was clearly needed. Even though I have taught myself how to be less snappy and not yell, even though I know I labeled “being on the computer” as a yelling trigger, I still need reminders to watch out for triggers. Again, life happens and things happen which makes it tough to stay focused on my goal of yelling less and love more! So I welcome reminders even if sometimes they come in the form of mistakes…because sometimes they also come in the form of an encouraging exchange with one of my boys.
So yeah, tonight I didn’t get bedtime “right.” But, because of my reminder of my trigger, I bet I will get bedtime a lot more “right” tomorrow night. And, I bet I will be a lot more vigilant about my computer time tomorrow, which will make the entire day so much more divine. Okay, self, you are forgiven.
Now the question is, will you forgive yourself if your day had more “errs” than moments of divine?
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A SUPER BIG P.S. I don’t share this to scare you that you will always have to work at yelling less – have no fears, it really DOES get easier and much more natural to not yell! I share this to remind you that it is a constant journey that has ups and downs; it is a constant “succeeding” then “erring” and “learning” and “forgiving” and then “succeeding” again. So don’t be bummed if you are in the “erring” part – you will get to the learning and succeeding parts.
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“Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids and How You Can Too” is due out September 1st but can be pre-ordered now here