This is not the post I intended to write tonight. Nope, not at all.
I thought that I would sit down, surrounded by peace and quiet of four boys sleeping and the lingering smell of the beach woven in my hair and write about one of the many huge insights I had while away on vacation.
But I can’t.
Because as I sit here, surrounded by peace and quiet on the outside, but filled with anything but peace and quiet on the inside, I don’t feel calm enough to write eloquently and insightfully.
Nope, not at all.
I feel anxious. Nope, that isn’t the right word.
I feel frustrated. That is getting closer.
Guilty. Lots and lots of guilt going on. Did I mention I feel guilty?
Oh, now we are getting close. Like really close.
You see, today I didn’t rock the motherhood thing. At all.
Nope, not at all.
I went to bed last night knowing that the first day post vacation would be brutal. I woke up knowing that that one week of no kids sleeping well would have finally caught up to them and that when combined with daddy going back to work and therapy appointments coming back on the schedule it would make for a very challenging day at the very least. And it day. WHOA DID IT.
There was fighting and yelling and whining and demanding. “I want more TV like on vacation!” “I want ice cream tonight like we did every afternoon at the beach.” “I don’t want to swim in a pool, I want to go to the ocean.” And my favorite line “I don’t want to pick up my toys. I didn’t have to last week.” (Eh hem, because you can’t pick up the beach and it was your only toy!)
But honestly, all the challenging behavior from my boys is not what made the day hard. I knew it would be hard to keep the peace today. I prepared myself mentally for it and so whenever things got bumpy I said to myself, “it’s the first day back from vacation. It is always like this. It will be okay.”
And that worked. That kept me from losing it. It gave me understanding and empathy and patience and therefore the strength to not yell.
But that only worked 5% of the day. The other 95% I found myself cranky at them when they were behaving just fine. I found myself snapping “hurry up” and “clean up” and “please, just eat” for no reason at all except that I was in a foul mood. I found myself using a shorter tone for no reason at all except that I was in a foul mood. I found myself showing less genuine interest than I liked in their enthusiastic stories for no reason at all except that I was…in a foul mood.
And I found myself bothered by their desire to talk to me and play with me for no reason at all…except that again, I was in a foul mood.
I didn’t like the foul mood; it smelled worse than the garbage truck that passed us on our morning walk. This mood of mine was making an already potentially challenging day of yelling less and loving more near impossible. This mood of mine had to go. I needed to find understanding and empathy of and for myself.
So I started doing what I always do when I accept that I am the issue; I go through my own mental checklist of what could be causing the mood:
Do I have PMS? Nope.
Am I tired? Potentially a little bit, but not enough to be a problem.
Do I need to exercise? Nope just went on a two mile walk pushing a double stroller while carrying one boy on my back.
Am I hungry? Potentially a little bit because I am not stuffing my face with ice cream and pizza and beer like vacation, but not enough to be a problem.
Do I need to ???
Am I ???
And here laid the problem today. I couldn’t figure out WHY I was in such a foul mood. Normally, when I struggle and my mood is getting the best of me and is pushing me to yell unnecessarily, I stop and ask myself WHY? Why the mood? What is going on? I ask and I ask and I ask again until I feel my gut come to an AHA moment; a moment where I can so easily say, yup, that is why.
I couldn’t find that feeling today. Nope, not at all.
All I found were feelings of frustration with myself and disappointment in myself that I was so moody and couldn’t snap out of it.
And all I found were feelings of fear. Fear because I actually did know why the mood was off but I just didn’t want to be honest with myself. Fear because I knew my mood was off for two main reasons beyond my control. Two main reasons that I can’t change.
I let fear win today. Let me tell you, it would have been much easier to just admit to myself that these two things were bothering me so that I could name them, own them, and then create a plan to manage them, much as I did manage my fear about the day being a challenge. You see, I started the day naming the fear (overtired and sad babes will make for a wicked unbearable day), owning it (okay, the day is gonna be tough) and creating a plan to manage it (anytime boys are more challenging than usual, remind yourself it is the 1st day back from vacation.)
Naming a fear is hard but does help me to not yell.
Better yet…naming a TRIGGER is hard but most definitely helps me to not yell. Because once I have named it I can talk to myself clearly and confidently. I can tell myself the truth about what is bothering me. I can clearly and confidently place my anger where it belongs. While I am glad that I didn’t misplace my anger completely upon my boys today; while I am proud that I didn’t let it completely take hold of me, I am not glad that some of my anger slipped out in the form of utter crankiness with my boys.
And I am not glad that in not being honest with myself about my triggers, I misplaced a lot of anger at myself. Yes, I spent a lot of today being angry at myself for my mood and for not “knowing” what was wrong. This of course made me even more frustrated and shorter with my boys. Today might have been one of my worst days of impatience and “screw it I just want to yell for no reason” days since I started my Challenge. Today might have been, no probably was, the top day where my boys thought “ugh, she needs a vacation!”
Again, I didn’t rock motherhood today. And I feel like crap because of it.
But I am going to rock this next sentence: “I forgive myself. I am only human. I will have less than great days and it is okay. I don’t need to rock motherhood everyday or every moment for that matter. Rocking motherhood isn’t what it’s about. It’s about doing motherhood. It’s about showing up and trying and loving as best as I can. Tomorrow is a new day; a new chance. It’s all good. It is all good.”