I never really thought of myself as having a bad temper. I can’t really yell; my voice just isn’t made for it. I am not one to shout or even mutter profanities. And I can probably count the times on one hand that I have ever actually honked my horn while driving. Easy-going and calm are words I would use to describe my personality. That doesn’t mean I am always happy, but I certainly am not by nature an explosive angry person.
But sometimes, I lose it. Sometimes I do yell, and I really do regret it. Sometimes I let my emotions get the best of me and I snap. I am human and that means I have limitations. My patience runs thin and sometimes anger slips out. I am also a mom, which means a lot of my frustration is related to my kids. Even though I love them like nothing else, being with them all of the time has its challenges. And while I wouldn’t trade my life for anything, sometimes I just lose it.
Just the other day I had one of those moments. I lost it. It was towards the end of a long day. I was in the middle of fighting the battle known as “clean up time” with my 4 year old. Her sass and attitude were in rare form as she refused to pick up any of the toys she had happily dumped out earlier. This was a battle we have fought many times. After a long day of fighting wills, disciplining, monitoring, entertaining, feeding, and caring for three kids I felt my patience draining and frustration building. It wasn’t just one thing that was frustrating me, it was just fighting small battles all day that drained me.
And instead of taking a step back to calm myself, I let the anger win and I directed that anger towards my daughter. She whined once again, and I snapped. I sighed loudly. I hit my hand on the table. I yelled. Tears welled up in my eyes. I had just had it. I knew she could sense my frustration, and I kind of was hoping she could tell she was causing me grief. I sat next to my daughter who was suddenly quiet. And her response is something I hope I don’t ever forget.
She crawled in my lap, and gently touched my face. Her words were simply, “It’s OK, mama.” She gave me a big hug and then offered to rub my shoulders to help me feel better. I couldn’t do much of anything but hug her back and told her that I love her. Wow. Talk about a humbling experience.
My daughter saw me at one of my less than best moments, and her response was love. And even though she had been driving me crazy 10 seconds before, suddenly it didn’t seem significant. I didn’t give up the battle of clean up time, but I was able to calmly re-approach the situation.
I felt a mix of emotions after that moment though. I was so proud of my daughter for responding the way she did. Part of that is her compassionate heart and I know the other part of that is from her learning from us. When my daughter is overwhelmed by emotions my husband and I try to calm her in a similar way.
Now I was also a bit embarrassed that I threw my little fit and needed my daughter to calm me. I am supposed to be the grown up right? I shouldn’t lose it and need to be calmed down. I should be better I should be perfect. And that when I have to stop myself. Because although I do need to be the grown up that doesn’t mean I have to be perfect. I can’t do that.
While I do strive to be a better mom today than I was yesterday, I also realize that I can’t attain perfection. I do hope that I can have a bit better control of my anger in front of my kids, but every once and in awhile I will probably slip up. That’s OK. I need to just learn and move on.
So to the mama reading this right now, maybe you can relate to me. Maybe you tend to be a pretty relaxed mama, but sometimes you still lose your cool. Or on the other hand maybe you feel like your cool was lost long ago and like you are stuck in a rut of anger. Neither of those things make you a failure. Don’t get so stuck on your mistake that you can’t move on. Your kids are going to see some of your ugly moments, so help show them how to adjust, apologize and move forward. You are doing the hard and good work of being a mama, don’t give up. You got this!