Today when Will came home I asked him if he remembered to bring home his jacket and his sweatshirt. It's the second day in a row that he forgot. He told me his sweatshirt was in the lost and found, and his jacket was in his classroom. I chewed him out... "We don't live next to a store... that jacket costs lots of money... if you don't have warm clothes to wear you are going to get sick and then you'll have to go to the doctor and that's an hour and a half away... time.... money... sick... blah, blah, blah... get in the car we are going to the school right now to get that swear shirt out of lost and found..." And, I said all this, not in a kind, lecturing way, but in an elevated voice/ yelling kind of way.
While driving to the school, I let out a big ol' sigh. Ed, who was in the front seat, says, "So what's the problem, Mom?"
Me: "I'm frustrated because I am trying not to yell at you kids so much because it's sounds awful and no one likes it. And, I got angry at Will and then I yelled at him."
Ed: "You don't like to yell?"
Me: "No, and it's become a bad habit for me. I don't like to get angry."
Ed: "So, let's get this straight. Why do you get so angry?"
Me: What the heck? Who is this kid? Good question. "I don't know why Ed. There's no good reason to act angry."
Ed:"Maybe it's because the kids do bad things. Or they don't listen. It's okay, Mom."
Me: " No, it's not. I need to do better."
And, I do. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who sometimes wants to eat their young, but it's not a good habit I have and I want to do better. It doesn't matter why this habit started, it just matters that I keep myself in check and getting better. Being a mom is hard work! I'm grateful for friends who make me feel normal and encourage me to hang in there. Seems like I've had a few conversations with different friends recently saying how frustrated they get, and afterward they think that the thing that bothered them really wasn't that big of a deal. I will work on this. Unfortunately, I feel like it might be a life long quest because as long as my kids act like they are participants in some Lord of the Flies unruly circus, I'll be tempted to act the part of the ring leader, yelling into my megaphone for order and safety.
Luckily, I have a friend who feels like I do, and we are going to help each other. It's nice to have someone to vent to and not have them think you are a terrible mother because you sometimes had a bad week with your kids and threw a mommy tantrum. You know the kind, where you rant and go on a rampage of cleaning, while saying things like, "This house is a mess! Why can't you put your shoes away? Let me see your hands. Yup, still there, both of them. If they can play with toys, they can put shoes away. Good grief, I'm going nuts. You guys are slowly killing me. If I trip over one more shoe, I might literally fall down and die. I'll hit my head on the bed and be dead. Then what would you do? Who would fix your dinner and wash your underwear? You would be dirty and gross and dad would make you eat the pickles the come on your cheeseburgers." The kids just usually look at me like I'm nuts because I've become very dramatic and I'm putting shoes away with gusto, and I'm usually throwing things away that they had intended on rat-packing away. Remember Yosemite Sam, the cartoon? He would get mad and say "Russ-a frussin mumble mumble..."
That's what I do.
I'm sure the stress of having four kids in less than five years, living our in Nowhere, CA, and living in a 320 square foot trailer with a husband who works two jobs might have something to do with it. (His paying job, his working on the house/church stuff job) But this is what I choose and I must conquer this. No excuses.
What I'm going to do:
Quit caffeine. Caffeine increases anxiety and irritibility. Two things I have plenty of already. So long, Diet Pepsi and Vanilla Diet Coke. I'll miss you, because you are so tasty and fizzy and I love you out of the fountain with crushed ice and a straw... but perhaps we'll meet at special occasions like at when I eat pizza or have a cheeseburger, because those things are just not the same without you.
Get some form of aerobic exercise everyday, by myself. Runs are good, but since I'm not a great runner and the weather is cold and rainy./snowy/windy right now, I'll settle for walks! I always feel less stressed after I run. (Unless I think about how slow and out of shape I am, then I stress about that. What can I say? I'm a head case.)
Keep perspective. I will not die if the kids don't put their shoes away. I will not crack up if they spill their drink again because they are playing at the table during dinner time and not eating. Okay, I actually might. But I will try not to exaggerate the situation and keep my cool. I will remember that although it sometimes seems like a "them vs me" situation, we are a team and they don't intentionally want me in the loony bin.
Now, I'm off to make them their favorite dinner: noodles with garlic salt and Parmesan cheese. Eww. We are having family night, and we have decided to have movie mix: popcorn, marshmallows, and M&M's. We are out of pretzels, or we'd have those, too.
And, thank-you Ed for talking to me today. Today you exceeded you age by about forty years. It was weird. But I needed it, and appreciated it.