Red in the Face

97 days down, 268 to go!

Dear #2,

I swear. I didn’t mean to snap at you today.  It’s just that well, I am exhausted. Despite all my efforts to get some rest, to get some resemblance of energy back, I am wiped. I took a two hour nap yesterday and got 8 hours of sleep last night. I ate all my protein and vegetables today and even drank extra water. Oh, and I went for two walks to “revive” myself. Yet here I am exhausted and snappy. I’m doing my best to be nicer to you and your brothers, to be more patient. I promise.

I love you,
Mommy Orange Rhino

*

Ugh. Parental Exhaustion. I don’t need to tell you that raising kids is physically and mentally exhausting. The not sleeping through the night, or the sleeping through but being woken at 5 am. The going up and down stair to get dry clothes because milk “accidentally” spilled. The holding a teething baby all day. The going to and from appointments all day. The being on my feet all day making meals, cleaning up meals, making meals again. The physically breaking up fights over who gets what train.

And then there is the mentally exhausting part. The non-stop worrying about whether or not my child is normal. The non-stop thinking about how I can better help my son. The non-stop talking to myself to NOT YELL. The non-stop talking to MY BOYS to not yell. The non-stop re-directing of their not so good behavior to better behavior. It’s all exhausting. And lately, it’s taking a toll.

The combination of physical and mental parental exhaustion is squashing my ability to handle my darling four energetic, loud, loving boys with as much poise and grace as I wish. Sure, I didn’t yell today and that makes me happy. And yes, I only snapped and it was luckily a level 4 but still. That snap made me feel awful.

Here’s the Scene.

Party City at 11:35 am approximately 25 minutes before lunch time. Three children have just had two chicken nuggets each as their stomachs were growling in the car and I knew that DESPITE the snacks they had at 10:30 that they were not going to make it to 12:15 peacefully. So we hit Wendy’s drive-thru. Nuggets for them, super duper extra large as can be Diet Coke for myself.

Not five minutes into Party City #2 starts in. “I’m hungry. I’m hungry. I’m hungry”

Me: “No you’re not.” I snapped and then luckily caught myself before a tirade started. I continued calmer,

“You just had a snack. And you had a snack an hour ago. You can wait 30 minutes.”

#2: “No, I am REALLY really hungry.” His voice is getting louder and shriller, enough so that people are looking and #1 is starting to cover his ears.

I purposely ignore him and continue looking at baby shower favors because I am finding it uber important to pick the perfect pink container, and quite frankly not only do I not want to be bothered, but also I don’t believe him. #2 is known for crying wolf when it comes to being hungry. Plus, I’m also ignoring him because we are trying hard to not cave into his whining, which is his preferred method of communication.

But finally, something in his voice sounded serious. Like I needed to stop being pre-occupied with my errand and focus on my son. You know that urgency you hear in a child’s voice right before he is going to throw up? Or the one where he is about to pee in his pants, in the middle of Target? The one that makes you stop everything and RUN?! That is what his voice sounded like.

I turned around. Oh my poor, sweet thing.

He was RED and I mean RED in the face. He was clenching his fists, clenching his teeth and trying so hard not to scream, not to have a tantrum. His eyes were full of tears and more were spilling down his hot cheeks. Here he had been trying so hard to communicate to me what he needed and how did I reward his behavior?I snapped at him which I am pretty sure ignited the very angry, very exasperated RED face.

Oh sh*t I thought to myself, I’m a schmuck. I didn’t snap bad but still, I snapped unnecessarily. I mean look at that face. So upset. So sweet. So loveable. So not deserving of my snapping because of MY exhaustion. Only deserving of my patience and love.

I scooped him up and gave him a huge hug.

“I’m sorry sweetie. You really are hungry, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I was trying nicely to tell you but you wouldn’t listen.” Sob, sob.

Ugh. I felt AWFUL. Just awful.

And I blame my exhaustion. Truly. I don’t blame him for whining. That isn’t what made me snap. Sure, it irritated me, but it didn’t make me snap. I let myself snap. I am simply 110% completely wiped out, physically and mentally, and as a result am snapping more and having to work twice as hard not to yell which of course makes me even more wiped out which makes me snap more. Sigh. It’s a vicious cycle.

And one of the first things I learned on this challenge is that when I am wiped, all bets are off. I have less self control, I am more impatient, more easily annoyed, more of everything but more loving. So I have been making the choice to put some things on the back burner (like blogging and folding laundry) so that I can relax at night and go to bed earlier, all so that I can be a more pleasant parent tomorrow, you know, all so that I can be an Orange Rhino. Lets hope my plan works because this exhausted state of mine? It needs to improve, like, yesterday.

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2 thoughts on “Red in the Face

  1. Ive been having the same problem lately: Im tired and my patients dwindles to zero, my todo list looms over me and my boys pay for it 🙁 Thanks for this post, I needed the reminder of putting some things on the back burner and keeping the front reserved for them…because they dont understand that Im getting things done FOR them..they just know Im busy.
    Also…my 3yr old is going through this terrified of everything phase…any tips on how to cope and help him? My patience is less than admirable.

  2. Being tired (exhausted) is a huge problem for me to, especially at the end of the day. I also have a #2 whose main form of communication is whining. That and a teething baby are enough to make me lose it. And I am trying so hard. Unfortunately mother’s day weekend with the inlaws did not go so well. However, I have my husband and sons on board to remind me not to yell. Hopefully this week I can beat my 3 day streak of not yelling. It is so hard when I am so exhausted all the time.

    … mommbaby spot … My 4 year old is terrified of a lot of things and has many issues about clothing (he is extremely picky about what clothes touch him and will freak out if his socks do not feel right). It is hard to be patient. One thing that works for me when he is scared of something is to keep him beside me and help him slow down. Helping him slow down (and not freak out) helps me slow down (and be patient). Also many of the things he is scared of (dogs, etc.) are more rambunctious when a child is active and trying to get away. By keeping him beside me when he is scared, he feels safe. As for being scared of other things (like picking a new jacket when his favorite is too small) I give him a choice of two and explain to him that they will feel “small enough” just like his old one. I let him take the lead as to how much he wants to be exposed to what he is scared of. Or I make a game of it. When he was young he was scared of water getting on his face so I made a game of him pouring water on my face and he saw it was not scary. It is hard sometimes because some things (like his clothing issues) do not seem rational to me. However getting angry and losing patience just make him panic and freak out even more so I try to remain calm. Another trick that works really well for us is to tell him to not panic when he is scared. So when he starts to freak out we say “don’t panic, use your words and I will help you.” It also helps him use his words and sometimes when he starts to feel anxious he will say “I am panicking”. Then we can stop and help him before his fear escalates to a point of being out of control. I hope that helps.

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