379 days of loving more!
Two Wednesdays ago was supposed to be a most joyous day. It was my 365th day of not yelling. I woke up excited, proud, and so happy. I woke up eager for the day of celebrating with my boys to start. I woke up to start writing only to hear all my 4 boys up at 5:30. Ironically, on this momentous day, I went to yell but stopped myself. I knew they were all awake because they too were excited; there was no reason to squash that! They too were planning a fun day and were eager to get on with it. I took a deep breath, closed my mouth and pretended to not see them as they scampered downstairs to decorate the kitchen with daddy and put out signs shouting congratulations. My youngest, #4, now 18 months, had settled himself back to sleep so I settled back into writing.
Around 6:30, I was informed that it was time for me to come downstairs as long as I was wearing my orange sweater and orange jewelry (well of course I was!) I headed to #4’s room to wake him so he could join me in the family celebration.
Well, this is where the joyous day took a turn. My sweet son was awake all right; and having another darn seizure. (Ah, two weeks later and the tears that I have held so tight to my heart finally start falling out as I write this….) I shouted down to my husband to grab the video camera and the emergency medicine to stop the seizure. We watched him, helpless. My husband, who never experienced a seizure, wanted so desperately to help him. “Don’t touch him sweetie, he’ll come out of it. 3 minutes can pass and we’ll give him his medicine.” I said, trying to be reassuring even though I didn’t even believe what I said.
I watched the clock and him anxiously. My other sons now stood beside us in the nursery.
“Mommy, come downstairs!”
“Mommy, here’s an orange rose for you.”
“Mommy? Mommy? MOMMY!”
I wanted to scream “NOT NOW!” but I knew that would break their hearts. I found all the calmness and togetherness I could and said,
“Oh thank you for the rose boys. I love it! And oh I am SO excited to see what you have done. I am so lucky! But right now I need to take care of #4, okay? I promise I will come down real soon. I love you.”
Darnit. It broke MY heart! My three sons were so proud and excited and I had to put that on hold because of another darn, not understood, unexplainable, yet potentially dangerous seizure. And the seizure BROKE MY HEART too. Again? Really? I thought we were out of the woods. I was so hopeful. And today? Of all days? (Well today was actually the perfect day because Daddy stayed home late and could help and because it gave me one last chance to practice staying calm!)
3 minutes passed; we administered the medicine. It didn’t work. He continued to seize, his lips now turning blue at the edges; a trip to the Emergency Room was in order. I grabbed some things and we all raced downstairs.
I ran into the kitchen, the beautifully, 110% orange kitchen. Oh how I wanted to stop and enjoy the moment, the celebration of a year’s worth of work. Oh how I wanted to hug my boys and say thank you and it’s wonderful. Oh how I wanted to hug my husband and say it was just the perfect way to start the day. Instead I squeaked out an “It’s great guys, now please, run to the car.”
The oldest two ran; the third insisted on shoes that day of course. And not just crocs, but sneakers. And no he didn’t have socks on. My husband and I were getting antsy as #4 continue seizing but we stayed calm; we both know after a year of not yelling that getting uptight when needing to rush achieves nothing.
We arrived at the hospital. I ran in and got rushed into the Pediatric Emergency Room for oxygen. Twenty minutes later #4 finally woke up (he had fell asleep or passed out at home; I don’t know which one.) At that point my husband had sent me an email with a picture of the kitchen and I burst into tears.
Tears of ANGER. I was SO angry. So very, very angry. Angry at myself – I had bought a video monitor per the neurologist’s suggestion yet forgot to bring it to my desk that morning. What if I had it with me? Would I have seen the seizure earlier? And I was angry at my son’s condition, not him, but his seizures. Why today? Why today? Today was supposed to start with hugs and high fives, not tears and terror. And I was angry with the doctors who still do not agree on the proper medical path to take.
And it turns out, two weeks later, I am still angry. Why? Because we still don’t have a clear path. We still have seizures that are getting worse and we still have two of the top pediatric neurologists in the country disagreeing as to what to do. So yeah, I am ANGRY. I am angry because I love my son and want to help him and right now, it doesn’t feel like I can.
This anger has been eating me up for two weeks now, perhaps longer. And the result? I have not been a pleasant person to be around. I have not been as loving as I wish to be. And my kids, they feel my anger, my stress and they are showing it in their own way and are as expected, more difficult to be around. Which leads me to one conclusion:
There is no upside to anger.
None. Anger does me no good. It doesn’t make me feel better. It doesn’t help me move forward. It doesn’t help me be more loving and calm and understanding so that I can have a good head on my shoulders to figure things out and feel less angry. It certainly doesn’t help me parent better! Anger just brings me down. Yes, there is a moment for anger. Yes, I know some famous psychologist or something speaks of anger as part of the grieving process. So yes, I am okay with feeling anger, but it’s what I do with it that is really important. I need to let it go so that it doesn’t affect everyone around me, especially those I love dearly.
Anger has been on my mind for months actually, and not just because of the seizures. Looking back at my year of not yelling, I realized that anger is such a huge part of yelling. I have looked up definitions of anger numerous times on this journey to try and write about it but surprise, surprise, I didn’t like any of the definitions. So, I made my own this week:
Those are the five feelings I feel when I am headed towards anger.
I start mildly annoyed (ugh, you didn’t pick up your shoes.) The annoyance grows to negative feelings all around (don’t you ever clean up?) which leads to grumpiness (seriously, can you do nothing right, harrumph, this day is gonna stink), and then exasperation (oh my gosh, how can I get you to pick up your shoes? I don’t know what to do!)
Of course after all these feelings, comes rage followed by a big ‘ole yell! What starts so small and simple as annoyance can so easily lead to negative attitudes, grumpiness, and exasperation and rage. In the past, when I hit rage, or even exasperation, that is when I charged; that is when I charged with my words.
At the start of my challenge someone pointed out to me the most beautifully ironic thing:
Do you see it? Anger is hidden in the name of my challenge. Surreal. It is a complete accident and yet such a wonderful one. Because this challenge, for me, I realize now has been making sure that I don’t let myself ever feel all those 5 feelings at once again. It has been about teaching myself to manage them, so when they come on I can let them go. One by one. The key for me has been to tame the annoyance quickly so that it doesn’t spiral into the following stages; so that it doesn’t become full-blown anger.
I haven’t tamed my annoyance lately and it’s showing. I’m more negative. I’m grumpier. I’m getting exasperated; not just about my son’s medical condition but about my all my sons’ behaviors (acceptable and unacceptable.) And I know what’s next; a big ‘ole, most likely unnecessary, yell.
So, it’s time to let go of my anger. Because again, anger does me not good. Anger at my son’s medical predicament does me no good. Anger at my sons’ for whatever reason does me no good. Anger just leads me to yelling and that is not a path I wish to take again. There is no upside to anger; and there certainly is no upside to yelling.
End Note: I ended up having a great day. I got to snuggle with little man all day and still celebrate with my boys. All 5 of them. Daddy stayed home because of the seizure so it turned out to be a family day…even better!