I was having a bad morning…
Most days I have to pile on my “mom armor” just to say good morning to my kids. And, considering I never know which version of my kids I’m going to get when they wake up, it usually involves bracing myself for impact and standing ready to deploy my imaginary airbags to cushion the crash should one occur.
This particular morning, however, it wasn’t my kids who were moody, it was me…
To put it lightly, I was in a full-blown, life got the best of me, I’m sick of trying so hard, feeling sorry for myself crappy mood – which, for me, is unusual.
I’m typically the steady one – the one who wakes up with enthusiasm despite what I have on my plate for the day, the one who approaches the day with a smile (or at least I try) and sets out on a mission to send my kids off to school prepared, fed, happy and hugged.
That particular day I was on a mission alright – a mission to make everyone around me miserable. I started off firing questions at my son like a rocket-propelled bazooka firing at the enemy.
“Did you brush your teeth?” “Are you wearing deodorant?” “Did you turn in that assignment last night because God knows I shouldn’t have to remind you?” “Why are you wearing that shirt again? Didn’t you wear that shirt two days ago?” “Haven’t you learned by now to rinse your dishes?”
I could hear the words streaming out of my mouth and even though I knew I was setting his day up for complete and utter failure (my son is sensitive and feeds off my moods), I just kept firing away.
“What’s wrong with me?” I thought to myself.
Rather surprised I answered myself so quickly, I said, “Honey, I’ll tell you exactly what’s wrong with you. Three words: Stress. Exhaustion. Perimenopause.”
I’m tired and stressed out from doing and trying and giving and cooking and driving and cleaning and smiling and, and, and, and…
I’m tired from lack of sleep. I’m tired from getting up too early, staying up too late and fitting in way too much every freaking day of the week.
And, to top it off, my body is going through a heap of changes. As frustrating as it is, my body is the downslope – hormonally, at least. And, I’m feeling it. Mood swings, hot flashes, irritability – symptoms I’m not used to, symptoms that have caught me by surprise, symptoms that are triggering me to feel and say things I never thought I would.
It wasn’t until my son very calmly and gently looked at me and said, “Mom, can you please just stop talking?” that it hit me. A. He was right, I was being a pain. B. I really did need to stop talking. And, C. This was the perfect example of role reversal.
I’ve said those exact words to my son when he’s firing away at me for something I did (or didn’t do) said (or didn’t say) or just because he was in a crummy mood, and now he was spitting my words right back at me.
The circle of life was complete…
As much as I didn’t enjoy the idea of being reprimanded by my son, the truth is, I needed to hear it.
After standing there a minute and realizing what a total idiot I was – after all I’m the one who’s supposed to be the adult in the room – I looked at my son, sighed and said, “You need to know something, babe… you’re not the only one who’s moody.”
After I kissed my son on the cheek, asked for forgiveness (I mean, it could have been a lot worse, but I’m awfully hard on myself as a parent) and sent him off to school, I grabbed a cup of coffee, sat down on the couch for a moment and had a little chat with myself.
The funny part is, as much as I tried to hold back on pounding my son with questions I knew would set him off, I couldn’t.
I was in a bad mood and, damn it, I was going to put everyone around me in a bad mood, too.
The biggest revelation I had is that’s exactly how my kids must feel.
Sometimes, their moods get the best of them and no matter how hard they try, they can’t hold back. Sometimes, they’re in a bad mood and, damn it, they’re going to put everyone around them in a bad mood, too. (They’re much better at it than I am, though.)
The moral of the story here is that we all have crummy days. Our kids, our husbands, our wives, our friends, our relatives, us… we’re not perfect. And, that’s okay. But, oftentimes we don’t give our kids the green light to have a bad day.
We don’t take the time to realize that maybe they can’t help it, that most often their moods or crankiness isn’t directed at us, or that maybe they haven’t quite learned the art of controlling their emotions – something I thought I mastered but clearly haven’t.
The minute we sense they’re having a bad day and they spout out a quip remark, we immediately pile on our defensive armor, label them as moody, sassy, ungrateful or disrespectful and start firing back as if they’re the enemy. (Let’s not discount the fact that sometimes they are disrespectful.)
For the most part, when they toss attitude our way, we’re less tolerant of them than we are with anyone else or even ourselves, for that matter.
As for me, my goal is to be more patient with my kids, to be more understanding of their moods, to practice what I preach and exercise greater control when I’m having a crummy day. And, when my kids are having a rotten day or their moods are getting the best of them, I need to remind myself that I’m their safe zone, that they need me to love them unconditionally despite their mood-swinging days and give them the stamp of approval to be in a bad mood.
After all, my kids and I are on this moody, emotional roller coaster together and we need to strive to be the steady in each other’s storms.