Today had many potential ways for me to FREAK OUT.
6:45 waking up as a single parent I was ready for the day! I got 3 kids out the door by 7:30, 1 for school, 2 so social services won’t pick me up for leaving the boys alone in the house. Even though they dawdle at the shoes, boots, mittens and coats stage, I stepped out into the garage, turned on the van and sat in it, waiting without yelling.
8:00am: babysat 2 kids for my friend touring our kids’ school. I really want them to like it so I kept 2/3 of their kids, enhancing the experience:)
9:05: we hit the streets, hoping to make 9:30 swim lessons and 9:37 class for me. I had texted a friend to grab my weights and mat. I was calm, but determined. I was prepped the boys to walk fast when we got to the Y… and I was ready to speed down Woodland Ave when…
The car in front of me pulls over and breaks. I suddenly notice lights and a fire truck so I pull over too.
Then another fire truck, EMS vehicle and 7 minutes later, a Police Car from Fridley and an emergency vehicle from International Falls passed us. The boys asked what was going on and I responded, “A fire fighter died while taking care of other people. We are honoring him by not driving while his funeral procession goes past. This is way more important than getting to the Y in time.”
We managed to get downtown in ok time and then, alleluia, found a meter right out front of the Y.
I got my workout in, the boys had swimming lessons and although showering with those two squirrels can be harrowing, we made it. It might have been the applesauce packets they slurped fresh from the shower. When I say fresh, I mean dripping wet in a towel.
This seems to happen more to me lately than the trends of the past. Yelling, pushing, punishing, cramming in too much and expecting my boys to handle it better than I can.
A few weeks ago, I read this article about yelling:
It hit me hard. I didn’t want to be like that anymore.
So I did what the article prompted me to do: I declared THE END.
I would try to stop yelling. And the kids could help me by:
1. Reminding me.
2. When I got through a day without yelling, they give me a sticker.
3. If I yelled, I lost my favorite coping with the stress of the world snack: Energy Bites (mine have coconut, honey, oatmeal, wheat germ, carob/choc chips and PEANUT BUTTER! sometimes walnuts…). I lived for these things!
They loved giving me the stickers.
I went 14 days straight without losing it! It was amazing especially because I was sick, Brian was away, I got the monthly friend and hosted a birthday party for 100 of Calista’s friends in the midst of that.
Then I fell off the wagon, only to now be day 3 again, no yelling.
It’s also led to some conversations with Brian about what constitutes losing one’s temper and when is it sin and when is it simply parenting and our stage of life filled with frustrations.
The kids love it. The stickers, the no yelling and the peacefulness.
I love it. There is not as much fear in their eyes when they screw up.
Brian loves it. He hates hearing the yelling from his office but even more those desperate text messages when he is out of town… like these:
I have HAD IT. THEY DON’T LISTEN. I AM LOSING MY &*()(*^ING MIND.
OK, I am headed to the Y with these two silly boys and if they argue over the hitting the buttons as we go inside I will go insane.
I don’t care if he’s adopted. I don’t care that he doesn’t always know what I mean. I don’t care he’s only been my kid for 7 months. I need him to stop losing it over what shoes he is going to wear today.
UGH. I had gotten to be a royal, immature, demanding, controlling Mother You Hope You’d Never Grow Up to Be.
I think what has helped lately are a few of the following things:
1. I get more rest. I nap almost every day. I utilize the iPad if they boys can’t be quiet and I ignore household chores every day from 1-2:10 when I have to rise to meet Calista, the bus and the rest of the day.
2. I stay off the screens right before bed. I read real, paper books. This ensures tired eyes and less 12:00am feeding frenzies of Jimmy Fallon.
3. I plan less. I have less playdates, less library trips, less meetings, less expectations.
4. I enter the room of said child, make my requests known and wait for obedience. Then I get back to what I’m doing. This eliminates the first set of yelling back and forth.
Transitions are still BRUTUAL. Mornings are still stressful. Mealtimes are next to wine-drinking may become necessary for me moments… But by the Grace of God, I am receiving victory.
It has also been a huge improvement on my recent musings on feeling fulfilled and appreciated as a parent (more on that later).
For now, I am enjoying my stickers. And last time I made energy bites, I doubled the batch on Faith.