I’ve been struggling with my anger again lately.
Like a small child who walks aimlessly out into the middle of the road to chase a piece of glittery garbage – I need to keep a close eye on it.
It’s been known to rear its ugly head from time to time, but since becoming a Mom it has continuously and constantly been doing belly flops all over the house – it’s incredibly painful to watch.
A lack of control, a sense of powerlessness, unpredictability, the absence of responsibility in others, entitlement in others – basically the most common scenarios and behaviours you can think of when it comes to rearing children.
So you guessed it Bob, it’s tricky to say the least – 100 points for you and one free spin on the big wobbly wheel of life.
. . .
Instinctual and incredibly strong – often pushing me off balance, right into the hazy bushes of ‘what the heck just happened!?’
Of course, clarity comes through at the end of the storm – and if I’m lucky, sometimes during – but as an action to combat my triggers, it just ends up making them worse.
I often feel out of control and powerless as it traps me in the small space between sadness and overwhelming guilt.
. . .
After an eventful Mother’s Day, that resulted in a big blowout with my daughter, Shae – which included multiple crying sessions, from both her and myself, and some long talks with a couple of my main pillars – I realized that at this particular moment in time, the grip is just a little bit too tight.
Our family often does this thing, when the day starts to go off the rails, where we take a breath, step back, and press our ‘reset buttons’. They’re imaginary of course and they migrate to different locations on our bodies depending on the day, but no matter what, we always say “beep!” in an overjoyed voice while pressing them, because just like anybody else, we all desperately want that grip to loosen, even if we don’t know exactly how to do it.
Changing a behaviour, let alone a habitual method of how we deal with and process the world around us, is a tall order to say the least. But, if there’s love in there – which is just as fierce as anger – it will often open our eyes just wide enough to catch a glimpse of those birds of awareness flying over the horizon.
And if that perception takes us anywhere close to the idea that this particular behaviour might be hurting others or even hurting ourselves, then we need to send it packing.
Now, I know these raw bursts of anger are not foreign to other Moms, or other people for that matter, and I know my particular breed of frustration isn’t rare. I also know that I’m human and I don’t need to get rid of it completely – a lingering piece of luggage here and there is no big deal – but it is something I want to work on, because like anything else in my life, I’m not settling for ‘good enough’.
So I asked my daughter to weigh in on the matter.
I shared with her how I was feeling, my hope to dismantle the grip, and I confessed my lack of knowledge in knowing exactly what to do sometimes.
Without a second of pause she replied “Mom, you just say, Shaaaaee, hellllpppp!”
As the words travelled from the back seat of the car, they were carried and elevated through the air, over top of a mountain of wisdom – holding space for their depth. Time stood still for a moment, and as my auto pilot disengaged on the monotonous highway, a new level of clarity was reached – I could see that horizon.
. . .
Whenever my daughter almost digs into a fight with her brother, or before she flies off the handle into oblivion, I have asked her to ask me for help. And this brilliant and emotionally attuned 4 year old wanted to reciprocate and do the same for me.
There’s beauty and a deep sense of connection that’s created when we share with our children. When we struggle with them and we allow them to struggle with us – within reason of course – a level of intimacy is gained. This closeness holds space for the acknowledgement that we are all human, and the recognition that these tidal waves of emotion are just part of the ride.
As parents I think we forget to recognize that our children aren’t the only ones who need direction sometimes, they aren’t the only ones who need pep talks, or the only ones who mess up. And there’s freedom that comes with that admission, as well as an opportunity and chance to grow together.
. . .
As I stared straight ahead, while glancing back at her through the mirror, a smile gently swept across my face, and a definitive reply emerged, relaxing every fibre of my being as I said, “You’re absolutely right, Shae – thank you.”