There’s a low point in my parenting which I’ll never forget. The time I was raging about something- for the life of me, I can’t remember what it was- and I knocked over a kitchen stool. Take that, kitchen stool
, I must have been thinking. Only what was much worse than my wanton chair abuse was the look of horror on my son’s face. He’s never forgotten The Day Dad Knocked the Stool Over.
The truth is, I’ve never been all that good at bottling up emotions
(or controlling them). I have been angry, moody, upset, tearful. Also, ecstatic, hyped, maddened with happiness. I don’t need a series of ink blots to point out that I need to live a calmer existence but I do need to exercise more self-control.
Apart from glorious moments
such as cuddling your new baby, in awe of velvet cheeks and long-lashed eyes or marvelling at your daughter, her head dipped in shyness but full of confidence as she draws out the notes of her violin recital, there are times when being a parent feels as hard as anything could be.
What’s your trigger?
The sleeplessness. I know people complain about having broken sleep, but it’s hard to explain how this drip-drip-drip water torture of nodding awake after just two hours sleep every night for a year can erode your ability to see beyond this caged environment. Then you go to work, do the shopping, cook, tidy up and hardly any parenting happens at all. Time simply passes in a blur of doing stuff
. You don’t even realize how raw your nerves are until something upsets this drudgery. A glass gets knocked onto the floor, and your carefully balanced composure shatters along with it. You know somewhere in the back of your mind that it’s just a glass- not an heirloom, not worth much, and yet you lose your temper. Shouty dad makes an appearance, and the children retreat, hoping to avoid being drawn into this horrid Full Metal Jacket
There’s no excuse, though. Exhaustion, money-stress and work-woes don’t allow you to take a free pass from being kind and loving. If your toddler is being toddler-y
or your teen is being teen-y, that’s no excuse for abandoning self-control. (I’m talking to myself, here, with the voice I use to calm myself):You love these kids, and you want them to remember an awesome childhood, don’t you? You want them to love you and respect you and not spend their lives worrying about making sure you’re happy, right? Of course you do, so stay calm. Breathe. Don’t worry so much about the little things, and deal with the bigger problems as they come up…
I can remember my Mum being livid with me when I was a child, but, more importantly, I remember her joy and laughter far more vividly.
You know what? It is getting much, much better. I am calmer and less prone to shouting. My children are happier, too. There are times I get angry or frustrated, but I’m watching my reaction to those times and moderating myself. Yes, I’m the dad who talks to himself, and that’s ok.Do you ever get angry? How do you deal with it?