I confess, I have an extremely short fuse.
I “lose it” on my family (specifically, my children) much more than I would care to admit. I explode. I express my frustrations. I yell. I know it’s bound to happen. Friends and family assure me that “everyone does it,” that “being a mom is hard,” and that I need to “give myself grace.” And I do.
But I also want to work on it. I want to do better.
So when it’s half-past-naptime, the twins are screaming in unison, the two-year-old has ripped her clothes off and is dancing in front of the window screeching “LOOKIE ME! I’m NAY-KED!”, the four-year-old is doing somersaults on his bed and spills his water all over the stack of library books on the floor, I need to take a beat. Before my fuse runs short, I need to determine what is really bothering me. Because although wet library books and my son’s carelessness are a problem, the librarians are
extremely excessively forgiving. Shouldn’t I be all-the-more gracious with my own children, gently and carefully correcting their behavior instead of just verbally exploding all over the place?
With that in mind, I’ve started asking myself “why?” and have come up with five main reasons why I “lose it” with my kiddos. Somehow, when I have an understanding of the “why”, it helps me to have a greater self-understanding, and ultimately, to exercise greater patience and self-control with my precious brood. Maybe you can relate?
FIVE REASONS I “LOSE IT” WITH MY KIDS ::
Blocked Goals :: My dear, wise friend Heidi introduced me to the idea that kids are “little goal blockers.” When we feel ready to lose it on them, sometimes it’s because we have a set goal in mind and they are getting in the way. Today when my children were all refusing to nap, they were blocking my goal of sitting down and writing this post (and have been for a few weeks now). Frustrating, yes. But definitely not worth losing my cool over. Sometimes, simply realizing that I’m upset over a blocked goal and not necessarily the behavior itself puts everything into perspective.
Unrealistic Expectations :: Truth be told, I can be an idealist when it comes to expectations of myself… and this can overflow onto my family. I want my house to be clean and orderly. I want to provide my family with a home cooked dinner every night. I want to leave in the morning looking somewhat put together. I’ve often heard it said, “You can have a clean house, happy children, or your sanity – but you can’t have all three.” This is SO true. And yet, sometimes, many days, I still expect everything to work out that way. When I realize my expectations are unrealistic, it helps me to take inventory of what IS realistic in that moment, adjusting my emotions and expectations.
Misunderstanding Age-Appropriate Behavior :: This could fall under #2, but it’s so huge for me I need to give it its own space. I am incredibly guilty of treating my kids like mini-adults. We aren’t born knowing how to behave in public. Part of being a two-year-old is learning to test boundaries. Four-year-olds are energetic and clumsy. It’s not my job as a parent to get mad when things don’t go my way. It’s my job to lovingly guide, direct, and discipline my kids in ways that are age-appropriate. Beyond that, when my children see me handling a stressful situation by loosing my cool or even behaving toward them in a passive aggressive way, that’s exactly what I’m teaching them to do. When I’m ready to blow, I need to take a step back and remind myself of how old (or rather, how young) my kids are and adjust my attitude appropriately.
Fear of Others Opinions :: When my children begin to misbehave in public, I feel my anxiety (and blood pressure) rise instantaneously. I have a horrible fear of “losing control” of them in public. And we all know why. We worry others will judge us. We dread the stares of others who obviously have it all together. We’re afraid we will bother someone. But when it comes down to it, does it really, REALLY matter what other people think? No. But for whatever reason, when my kids are acting up and I feel the eyes of another adult upon me, I find it very difficult not to blow. Truthfully, reminding myself that it doesn’t really matter what others think helps me to breathe and correct my children with more love and self control.
Unmet Self-Care :: This point frequently accompanies one of the above, or it can stand alone. Am I hungry? Tired? Do I have a headache? Has it been awhile since I’ve had “me” time? Have I exercised or gotten sunshine lately? Oftentimes, I’m more “set off” by my children when I haven’t been taking care of myself. A few months ago, I noticed that my fuse was exceptionally short — even more than normal. I saw a dentist around the same time, and they found a dental issue. They fixed it, and I suddenly realized I’d been dealing with a toothache I hadn’t even realized was there. I’d been so busy going about my daily routine, I hadn’t even noticed I was in pain. When the issue was resolved, I wasn’t as irritable. When we are constantly teetering on the edge of an emotional blow-up, it’s time to take a moment for self-evaluation and self-reflection, and try to determine if we, ourselves, have any unmet needs causing us to “act up.”
And you know? Sometimes, I lose it on my kids because….well, being a mom is hard, and tiny humans push us to the edge. And that’s OKAY. Hear me, mama: no one expects you to be perfect, and no one even expects you to excel at this mom thing (except maybe yourself, but please see #2). So you do your best, I’ll do mine, and just know that when I see you with your kids acting-out in public, I’m sending you ALL the mental “deep breaths” I can muster.