Taming The Wrath of Mom
Sometimes I can feel it, boiling and brewing beneath the surface like something on the stove that’s about to boil over; I can see it’s going to spill over but I can’t get to the stove in time to stop it. Other times it hits with no warning; like lightning before the thunder and rain starts.
Temper. Anger. Losing it.
It’s like something breaks loose inside your head and every function in your body goes into overdrive. Your blood goes hot, your heart pounds, you breathe a little faster.
However your temper strikes I can tell you with absolute certainty that we’ve all been there. Our voices rise sharply at the 15th “Mom!” squealed at us or we let out our own barbaric yalp at the sound of children fighting. It’s bound to happen and I’ll be the first to tell you that it can feel like it often happens more times than it doesn’t happen.
Before I had kids, I could let things pile on and pile on. It seemed like I had the world’s longest fuse. Then kids happened and somewhere that laid back, worry only when absolutely necessary person that I used to be disappeared. Anxious, short tempered and grouchy is what I seemed to become.
It doesn’t take much anymore to find my fuse and when it happens, I become the loudest person in the room. I want to be heard over them and so the voice raises until I AM THE LOUDEST. I thought that this was just how moms were. I didn’t know a mom (including my own) that didn’t shout or yell at their children. Even my friends’ mothers had a voice that would shake the heavens when we began to dance a jig on that last nerve.
The one thing that I learned about losing my temper is that it doesn’t feel good, the kids look at me like I’ve sprouted three heads and, I’ll be honest here… I hate myself later. I feel horrible for yelling or screaming at them. It’s not a side of me that I like at all.
I’ve learned carefully over the years that losing it is going to happen every now and then but it doesn’t have to happen every time I get upset or mad with the kids. My anger and losing it is a reaction to a situation that I don’t have any control over. I can’t force the kids to stop fighting with each other, share with each other every time, or even do their chores every time I ask. What I can control is my reaction. My temper and how I handle each situation.
Oh it’s absolutely the easiest thing in the world to become the loudest person in the room while they are arguing over something but the only thing they’re learning and the only thing I’m showing them is that the loudest person wins… and moms, we all know that’s not really true.
I’ve had to start taking cues from the very thing I teach Shorty (who himself seems to have been born with a temperamental personality) and applying these things to my own short fuse:
Walk Away – When Shorty gets angry I tell him to go find a place to be by himself for a bit and to come back when he’s calm again. That’s when we can talk about things. I have had to learn to follow my own advice. I force myself to leave the situation. Sometimes it means going outside in the freezing cold to sit in an even colder vehicle until I am more calm and rational to deal with it.
Tune Them Out – Literally. I take my mp3 player and a set of headphones to my bedroom (or the bathroom) and lock the door and turn up the music. If I’m really out of sorts, I sing. LOUDLY. At least this way if I am the loudest person it’s not because I’m shouting back at the kids and when mom sings loudly in her bedroom all by herself, the kids know that they need to cool their own jets.
Phone A Friend – Who Wants to Be a Millionaire didn’t coin the phrase “phone a friend”. For years moms stressed to the max have picked up the telephone and dialed up someone who would listen, could understand, and even agree that her kids have lost their minds.
When I don’t have the option to calm myself the way I want to, I mentally go to a happy place until the time comes when I can be by myself. Then I’ll reward myself with a chapter of the latest book that I’m reading or picking up the needles to work on my new love of knitting.
I’ve learned to communicate better with them when I get angry. When I feel my blood start to boil, I tell them that I’m getting upset and I don’t want to yell and that I need a few minutes.
It’s a work in progress. There are always going to be things that get me upset or angry. I don’t want them to grow up knowing though that the only way to handle a situation is with anger or yelling. I can relate to their need to throw a temper tantrum and yell and scream as a way to release the anger they feel, but it’s not the best way and if I expect them to know that, I have to show them.