Today was a bad day. For me, and by extension my children. Or maybe it was for my children, and by extension me. Anyway, I yelled. A lot. Way too much.
The problem with parenting is that it requires a level of patience that very few of us stressed, pulled-in-a-million-directions humans who are victims of our own busy lives possess. I’ve heard many older people ruminate that they wish that they had more patience with their children when they were young, patience that they now seem to posses in their later years with their grandchildren. Maybe that’s why. Anything that’s grand can’t possibly cause one impatience and elevated stress levels. Grandparents, grand piano, grandstands, the Grand Prix, grand larceny, grand theft auto, Grand Am. Hmmm, this was my husband’s first car and I know from first hand experience that it’s not so grand. How about grand theft auto of a Grand Am? Mike probably would have thought it was grand if someone stole that grandiose hunk of junk. Alright, I guess not everything that is prefaced with the word “grand” is, indeed grand. I will have to rethink that theory.
But I think it’s a question of the chicken or the egg. Do we lack patience with our children because we are young and inexperienced in what truly matters in life or is it because we are around our offspring constantly while they bring out the best and worst in us? Perhaps it’s a bit of both. I’d like to think if I switched placed for a month with Grandma and Grandpa, they’d be caterwauling and carrying on like I am prone to do. But somehow, I think I would still ashamedly win the prize. Sometimes I am less mature than my children in the way I carry on.
Of course I love my children more than life, and of course I would do anything for them. You would think this would trump my angry outbursts, but sadly it doesn’t. I learned in a parenting course I took that this is referred to as low effort parenting. When instead of dealing with our children properly, we resort to what takes the least amount of effort, namely ranting and raving. The problem is, high effort parenting sometimes feels impossible, especially when one’s blood has already reached its boiling point. And nothing boils my blood as fast as whining. Add to the mix my bull-headed, fire cracker of a daughter who is too smart for her own good and who is asserting her independence while seeing how much she can get away with and it’s a recipe for disaster.
I’m sure most parents share my sentiment regarding whining. Why do children so wholly and effortlessly grab on to this terribly annoying habit and then hone their craft like an expert marksman? Not that they have to put any effort into learning this skill. And it’s rarely a little whimper. It’s usually a full blown caterwaul, no matter how trivial the issue.
My father used to say that he wouldn’t trade any of his children for a million bucks but he wouldn’t pay a dime for another one. This must be the result of having four children whose favourite game was to kick him off the couch while he was napping by sitting on the backrest and digging our feet in between him and the couch until we got enough leverage to push him off.
Now that the kids are in bed and I’ve had some time to myself to regroup, I am feeling guilty for my angry outburst. OK, OK, outbursts. Yeah, there were a few of them. I tell myself I will try to do better tomorrow, and that despite my shortcomings, I am a good mother. But the truth is, I know it will happen again, no matter how much I pep talk myself. I am only human. All I can do is apologize and hope my kids learn something when I admit that I am wrong. And when my two year old said when I apologized today, “That’s OK, Mommy. We still love you,” I think I must be doing something right. Whining aside, life is indeed, grand.