Everyday Anger

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I’ve been meaning to write a post, but mostly about something trivial like asparagus (for my Flower Power series). I have already done a bit of research and had the post slowly taking shape in my head, and then I had to pick up my kids from school. I wasn’t necessarily dreading this, on the contrary, I was looking forward to picking them up, to bringing them to the playground and playing together with them at home. But somehow my mood sabotaged all such plans. I picked my daughter up first from pre-school and then my son. We were running late and on our way she started whining: she wanted to put her jacket away, then she wanted to take it out and carry it, then she wanted me to carry it. I wasn’t really understanding her and kept repeating that we have to run as we are late, so she stopped dead in her tracks and screamed “NO” at me as she pounded her little toddler foot on the pavement. I lost my patience, to which she responded “Mama, don’t be mean!” and started crying. Then she asked for a kiss and a hug, but I didn’t have time as I was imagining my son alone in front of his school, waiting for us. So I tagged my screaming toddler along because I just didn’t want to take 30 seconds to really kiss her and hug her and calmly explain the situation to her. When we got to my son’s school his class has not come out yet. His teacher, as always, was late letting her class out, so my impatience with my 3 year old added up to nothing.

When my son got out I quickly kissed him on his forehead and we went to the neighborhood playground so they could eat some snacks and play. On the way there we passed our local laundromat. Usually it’s very clean, but this time around it was trashed: there were socks on the ground, some kind of dirt that made me think of poo smothered on the floor and leaves and twigs all over. My son saw a small soft toy in the midst of all that mess and went in to pick it up. I told him not to, as it probably belonged to someone who was going to come back looking for it. As we were going out a man passed by and made angry comments at me thinking we were the ones leaving the mess. I defended myself like a school child trying to appease an angry teacher. “It wasn’t us!” I protested “It wasn’t us! We don’t even have bags with laundry, don’t you see?!?” The man rolled his eyes, as if he didn’t believe me, and went on his way.

Finally we got to the playground. I brought a bag of store-bought, sweetened crepes, chocolate, apples and water. My daughter ate just an apple and my son downed 5 crepes with chocolate. I realized he didn’t eat anything for lunch at the school cafeteria. It should be noted that French school cafeterias serve very good and healthy foods, and every Friday they serve fish. When I asked him if he ate anything for lunch, he nonchalantly answered “apple sauce and yogurt”. To me that is nothing and it made me angry that he is now downing so much industrial refined sugar whereas just a few hours before he had a wholesome plate in front of him with fish, vegetables and rice. Obviously I let him know that I was angry. He looked at me sheepishly as he was finishing his 5th crepe. At that point my daughter ran up to me and asked me to play with her. I told her that I didn’t feel like running, but she insisted. I didn’t even think about how an hour earlier I was looking forward to playing with them, so I sent her on her way saying that “Mama is not in the mood”.

After an hour on the playground we went home. I sat my children in front of cartoons because I didn’t feel like dealing with them. They called out to me asking for candy and I had to fight with them. To make a long story shorter: I also ended up getting mad with my son as he didn’t finish his plate because of a stomach ache, but 5 minutes later he dared to ask me for candy again. And I yelled at my daughter who decided that she wanted to roller skate in the house.

Before bed time I usually have my son read a small paragraph, as the teacher said that he was behind in reading. He told me he forgot how to read the most basic letters and was not able to read a single word. I exploded and he sheepishly answered “It’s ok Mama, I’ll take this book to bed with me and I’ll practice by myself and I promise I’ll learn how to read well” I immediately felt guilty. But 30 minutes later I exploded again after kissing my daughter for the 4th time good night as she asked me to hold her hand before she falls asleep. I was done with it, I was just done with it. I wasn’t going to hold her hand for 20 or 30 more minutes as she falls asleep. And immediately afterwards I felt  guilty for being done, for being angry with them though they did nothing other than be children. So I decided to write out my afternoon from A to Z, to see may be tomorrow as I re-read this post, where did I go wrong, what could have I done better. After all, the intentions were good, but it all just turned sour in my head. I wonder, how do people control their moods? How do they keep their lids on their kettles so their boiling water doesn’t scorch others? Even as I type this I am getting mad at my cat who wants me to pet him and who keeps trying to move in between my laptop and my fingers. I realize that keeping the lid closed for too long causes explosions, but some days like today I feel like I can’t even keep the lid closed for long enough to find myself by myself and let go of my frustration in a healthy manner.

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4 thoughts on “Everyday Anger

  1. Well first off, don’t think you’re alone in your predicament. Every parent I know goes through exactly that now and then. AND usually feels guilty afterward. It’s just a part of being human. I’ve had my share of those moments. A lot of the time I found I was just repressing — or trying badly to — something else entirely that had made me angry. I wish I had thought of making a list like you said. That actually might have been helpful since I have a hard time identifying my emotions some times. Don’t beat yourself up for being human, girlfriend. {{{Yeva}}}

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    1. Yes, I know you’re right, but it’s also true that in today’s day and age of social media people tend to show only the “perfect” moments and on top of that there are so many online articles on how to parent that it’s hard to escape self-doubt and guilt.
      I was debating on whether or not I should make this post public, but then I decided that I didn’t want my life to sound too”perfect”. And you’re right, those moments of anger targeted at my kids are usually due to inner turmoil. My last paragraph was me trying to understand how to stop taking out my anger on kids. I tend to always think that I have to be “more in control” of my emotions, but that’s obviously not working.

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      1. Everyone wants to look like they have the perfect family. Our culture, society makes us feel guilty if we don’t. We’re all alike. My daughter has a degree in Social and Family something-or-other, and she thinks the way to parent is to “reason” with her children — who are 7, 5,3, and 18 months. When I watch them listening to her (and they have to because she’ll cup their face in her hands and tell them, “Look at me.”), you can just see them hearing “Wah, wah, wah, wah, wah…” like in the Charlie Brown cartoons when the adults talk. And they SELDOM listen to her. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard her yell at them. But they are little beasts in public. I’ve felt guilty because when Arn and I watch them they’re not allowed to act like that, but we were just visiting with them and Jesse’s parents who have had the two oldest boys for two weeks, and his mom took us aside and complained about their behavior. I was so relieved it wasn’t just me. A lot of times discipline looks way different than reasoning. We figure Stef will find that out eventually. Kids are resilient. Work on your inner stuff, but don’t beat yourself up. You’ll be doing yourself a disservice.

        The best gift you can give your children is to be consistently adequate.

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      2. You’ve got a good point here. As they say, it takes two to tango, so sometimes I explose because my children have been slowly wearing away at my patience (especialy at bed time when they call me 5 times in a row). I’ve realized though that it’s important to be honest with them. The other day I told my son that if I snap at him and his sister it’s because I’m unhappy with some general problems so my patience wears thin. But it doesn’t mean I don’t love them. He looked at me with a smile and said: “I understand! I get mad too sometimes!” I think both of us felt relieved after that.
        Parenting seems like a tough balancing act: on one hand we want them to clearly understand the rules of living in a community and on the other hand, we want them to feel fulfilled invidiually. I think your daughter will figure it out eventually too 🙂 And thanks for sharing your experience, definitely made me feel better.

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