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.”
My grandson is 18 today. I arm grateful that he is in a safe place. Your blogg brought tears to my eyes. We need to forgive and enjoy ourselves.
I so needed to see this. I feel the guilt, the anger, the frustration and it is so hard to forgive myself as no one else feels this way. Right? Your honest words are appreciated. With more thanks than you know. 🙂
Your last paragraph says it all! Lisa at barefootbarn.com just gave me this advice: If you start to yell — or even if you DO yell — put your hand on your heart, give yourself a dose of self-compassion, and call a redo.
Wonderful words of wisdom to yourself! Great post!
Thank you for this post. Reading this made me feel so much better.
loved the blog–will help this grandmother get through this day!!!
Hey, what about YOU? You allowed that the kids would be extra challenging after a week of vacation, but didn’t you also need time to get used to being at home after this? Vacations with young children (and without any at all) take their toll. What I saw in this blog post was a complete victory for you…you didn’t yell, even while feeling so cranky. Have some more “understanding and empathy and patience” for yourself, sweetie. You are allowed to feel all those negative things you mention and STILL be a great mom. You don’t have to be superhuman, just be yourself. Don’t feel shame or guilt over not being filled with peace after a vacation, that is an unrealistic expectation. I love your last paragraph…that is what has gotten me through the last 28 1/2 years of mothering nine children of my own (that and a short attention span, LOL)!! Big Hugs!
Oh, that was me yesterday! Thanks for your post. I have a 5 day old baby and we(3 older kids and I) are doing some serious adjusting around here. Today is a new day!
Thank you for being honest open and willing to share. When my father was diagnosed with cancer, he told me that his desire was to spend his days making memories with the people he loved. My dad spent the last 7 years of his life doing exactly that. The good memories you make with your boys, including the transformation from a yeller to a mom that listens to and loves your boys will overcome the days you didn’t rock the world.
I started the challenge yesterday. Yesterday went very well. Today is a completely different story and your post describes it very well. I can relate. My triggers are that I am tired and I have a headache i cant shake. And its my own fault. I stayed up too late on the iPad. Too much time before bed on the iPad makes it hard for me to sleep and gives me headaches. So I’m mad at myself for the self sabotage maneuver. I need to turn this ship around, just not sure how.
I love your honesty. It is refreshing. Thanks for giving me a better perspective today. I will be a better mother today……please continue to inspire!!!
I did not rock motherhood today. My 6yo even said, “mom your being an orange rhino today, and I was afraid to tell you because I thought you would be more mad at me.” Ugh… Wish I could say I pulled it together from here, but I didn’t:(
No, you werent the only one who didn’t rock motherhood today. I yelled and made my kids feel bad about themselves. Not sure why yet, as I am still processing it all. So glad you are here though to help guide me through it all. I wasn’t one to make Orange Rhino signs durin the 30 day challenge but think tomorrow I will and I will try my best to do all the things you suggested. Love more, yell less. I need to keep repeating it. Again thanks for your posts! Especially today!
Thanks for your honesty. I just happened upon your post and can totally relate to what you had to say. Today wasn’t a rock’n day for me either coming back from a great family vacation. I will be back to read more.
About halfway through this I had to stop and scroll up to be sure I wasn’t reading my own blog – this was definitely our day today (third day back from vacation, but first day back to normal routine). Thanks for making me feel not so alone!!
Thank you! I have been struggling with this. For me it isn’t only on “obvious” occasions like the first day back from vacation. I get so frustrated when I don’t know what’s going on and sometimes afterwards it is clear, sometimes not so much. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that I spend way too much time being frustrated about it.
Thanks for detailing the challenge itself – I’m not as organized but working really hard on it – and thanks for this piece. It is so helpful!
Thanks for writing this. I often go to bed thinking I could have done better. I shouldn’t have let my 3 year old son do this or that. Yet at bed time we snuggle and he nurses and we have little chats and he seems to say everyday was a good one no matter what happens. Today I definitely didn’t rock many hours were spent in front of the TV and I just wanted some quiet on my own. Tomorrow is a new day and just maybe I will force myself to take my son to the water park where he will spash and play and I will count the minutes till its over
I’ve been feeling like this a lot lately, and I don’t like it. I’m trying so hard to get out of this funk, because I can feel it greatly affecting my relationship with my 3 year old son. We’ve had the best relationship up until now, and I feel him slipping away. I have another opportunity to try harder tomorrow, I suppose.
” It’s about showing up and trying and loving as best as I can.” —- YES, YES, YES!!! You and me both!!! Thanks for this post … hit home for me today ….as always, I read your blog and find myself nodding and agreeing with so much of what you share! Thank you!!
I appreciate this post today and can relate. It’s our first day back from vaca and we had 100 things to do and I found it hard to balance everything. Tomorrow is set up to be the same/worse. Thanks for your inspiration…. I need it!
This is an awesome entry – thank you for writing it as you put words to my feelings all day – especially as I sit here tonight in tears from feeling so guilty over not playing with my kids more and snapping at them. I keep thinking about a friend of mine who died a year ago of cancer and besides missing her I keep thinking how her kids don’t get to play with her or any of that. I always think that will help me to be more focused on living for today and the moments, etc. instead it just makes me feel like a bad mom who doesn’t appreciate her life or kids. But I’m going to try and follow your example and try to forgive myself and start fresh tomorrow.
you werent the only one who didnt rock motherhood today 🙁 tmrw will be better for us both, i just know it!!!
UGH I had the exact same feeling today. I was away for the weekend but my husband was and still is out of town. I am tired and hungry and just needed my boys to go to bed. I think the heat and humidity didn’t help either. I apologized for being cranky to my 4 year old and he looked up at me with his big blue eyes and said “I don’t think you are cranky mommy and I don’t think you’re stupid either.” Tomorrow is another day and another chance to love more and yell less!!
Spot on. You totally rocked that next sentence!