One evening last week, within less than an hour of us all coming home from work and after-school activities, I managed to make both kids cry.
Without boring you with the mindless details, in each case, I snapped. In the first scenario, I expressed my disappointment with a situation which caused my five-year old to break into tears, lamenting her sorrow that I had hurt her feelings. In the second, I yelled loudly right into the face of my eight-year old who was tuning me out in favor of messing around like a clown when he should have been getting ready for his bath and I had already asked him more than three times. The shock on his face was blatant, followed by a fierce onslaught of hot tears and accusations.
I hate myself when I lose it with the kids.
I’m supposed to be the one that lifts them up, the one who makes everything silly, who keeps everything marching forward smoothly. Not the one that bears down on them with outbursts of negativity.
The good news is that this really does not happen that often because I try to work hard to fortify my Mommy Shield. It’s the Mommy Shield that stops you from driving off the road when the kids are squabbling at high-frequency in the back seat of the car. It’s the Mommy Shield that makes you take a deep breath and calmly reach for the paper towels when your kids spills his or her milk for the gazillionth time. It’s the Mommy Shield that helps you sit quietly on the couch while the kids run around and around and around with increasing velocity and volume and you know that, any moment now, someone could get hurt but they are having so much fun. It’s the Mommy Shield that lets you know—most of the time—which battle to pick.
But there are days when my Mommy Shield is frail and easily penetrable Days when I pick the wrong battles. Days when I can’t take a deep breath. Days when yelling at them actually feels really, really good (at first.)
After the tears are dried, hugs squeezed, apologies offered and everyone is happy again, I try to figure out what I could have done differently. Often, it’s not about the heat of the moment but the events leading up to it. When I feel that, at any moment now, the Mommy Shield is going to blow, I try to deploy one few of these tactics to change the energy and hopefully reduce the odds of my snapping:
- Playing loud music to drown out their shrieks or whining or squabbling.
- Taking a bath. They can duke it out to their heart’s content without me in the room.
- Wine. Takes the edge off.
- Sending them outside.
- Sending myself outside.
- Using Facebook/Twitter to vent/distract.
- Breaking into a silly dance.
- Look at photos of them when they were babies.
How do you fortify your Mommy Shield?