January 11, 2013
Patience. Something a Mom and definitely a Mom of three or more has to have an abundant storage of. It is also something I’ve noticed since having my third child that I run out of once in a while and as they get older once in a while happens more frequently than I would like. Characterizing myself as a patient person, it’s one of the things that when patience reaches its saturation point, I feel extremely guilty. Those are the times when I snap at the kids or Mr. L and lose my temper very quickly ranting about something or another. It is difficult for me (or anyone to admit) but I am not very nice to anyone when I lose my temper. It is something I continue to work on, but when it is triggered a fiery blast blows over my family and leaves me feeling like the worst mother/wife/person in the world. I once told Mr. L, no one is harder on me, than me.
Audrey is emotional with a similar nature to my own so when she loses it as a four and a half year old does, it takes every ounce of my being not to snap back. After all, I am the adult. For the most part, I have learned how to talk calmly to her and talk her down when she’s in hysterics because she got milk on her pants or know when she’s reached her breaking point and needs some “calm down time” in her room. I’ve tried to teach her to deal with her “hot” feelings and use words to express herself instead of screaming for attention. I never felt I was allowed to be angry as a child and thus am trying as an adult to deal with my tendency to be explosive in a more constructive way and at the same time teach my children it’s okay to be angry but it’s not okay to scream, yell or have hands on anyone when you’re mad. Most days we work through everything and reach the other side unscathed.
However, yesterday being the whole day by myself with all three kids, pulling Audrey and Jacob with me to Elizabeth’s musical theatre class and then back home to put them all into bed on my own when I knew Mr. L was having a quiet dinner with his partner, I was more than a little stressed and pissed off. Mr. L and I had agreed that Thursday nights was the one night he needed to be home so I didn’t have to take two cranky younger children to their sister’s activity. He let me know he had a mediation in advance. To be fair, it didn’t happen often so I had told him I would manage. But then for him to casually go out for dinner instead of getting on a train home to at least help with bedtime, well that was a choice and not mandatory. The plans were also thrown at me as he walked out the door to work with no opportunity for discussion.
When Audrey appeared screaming and curling up on the living room floor after a difficult bedtime with Jacob who refused to sleep and I had spent an hour holding him until he finally drifted off, it was my first chance to sit down all day. She was making no sense to what the problem was except yelling her legs hurt and I could hear the snap in my voice and patience quickly head out the door. Letting her yell for a minute, I calmly tried to ask her what was the matter. She proceeded to scream at me. So I did nothing. I let her yell praying she would not wake up Jacob. I told her when she stopped yelling I would talk to her. She kept going and going until I lost my temper. Pulling her out of the chair, my voice was getting louder as I was telling her to be quiet, telling her I would not talk to her until she stopped, trying anything to stop her screaming. At this moment as we were both yelling, Mr. L walks in and calmly says, “What is this?” Snapping at him to mind his own business, I sat my little one in a kitchen chair and reminded her of the house rules, no screaming and after a week of her yelling for everything, I had enough. She either followed the rules or she could leave. Not a shining parenting moment and as soon as the words left my mouth my gut wrenched and I calmed down taking steady breaths as her big brown eyes looking through her curly blonde hair glared up at me.
Stooping to her height, I gently held her arms and asked her, “Are you done?”
The crescendo started again so I then told her she was to sit on that chair until she could talk to me without screaming and left to go back to the living room. Sitting down I steadied my breath and waited, and waited until she finally slunk over telling me she was ready to talk normally. Scooping her up and holding back my own tears, I told her I loved her and took her back to bed.
After all that, I was mentally drained. Going downstairs and apologizing to Mr. L for snapping at him but stating that I was a little angry that he had basically bailed on a Thursday night in favour of dinner out I then got a chance to explain the situation to him. As soon as I was done, waves of Mommy guilt and of how badly I had handled the situation came flooding back and for the next three hours, I mentally chastised myself for not keeping my own temper. How dare I allow my deep well of patience to dry up? I let myself be overcome by emotion and stress. I promised myself, to walk away if I felt my own blood pressure rising. After all, they are kids and if I can’t teach them by example how to handle their emotions, good and bad, then who will? When you’re a Mom and a Mom of three, you need to be able to handle your stress levels. You can’t let them see you sweat. For yours and their own good. It’s a lesson I need to continue to learn.