Sometimes I think God is really funny; or clever. Probably both. Definitely both clever and funny, and also he must love me very much to give me a topic called "Controlling Your Emotions" exactly one day after probably one of my worst mommy-fails ever.
Let's start with this week's meeting. So, I really look forward to MOPS, initially because I never buy donuts, and there are usually donuts there. And now that I'm pregnant, it's become very important for me to be near the front of the breakfast line, in order that I get first pick of the donuts.
I would have taken a picture of my plate full of wonderful yummy goodness, but I ate very quickly. So here's a picture of my empty plate. You'll notice I did choose a little bunch of grapes; for the antioxidants.
So that morning we watched a MOPS video, with Lisa TerKeurst as the speaker. The topic was on controlling our emotions. I know we already covered that, but I wanted to refresh your memory after the donut discussion.
Lisa talked about 4 different ways we tend to (mis)handle our emotions, or react, to conflicts that may arise.
These reactions are Exploders Who Blame Others, Exploders Who Blame Themselves, Stuffers Who Build Barriers, and Stuffers Who Collect Retaliation Rocks (I just love the name of that one, it's cool).
So let's go back to my Monday morning of this week. And let me also tell you, that with my kids, I tend to be an "Exploder Who Blames Others." They bring this out in me, I tell you.
Anyway, we'd just had a week off of our normally scheduled programming, aka "fall break," and no one wanted to be getting up at 6:30 to eat breakfast and get dressed for school. I was cranky, my daughters were moving so slow... so, sooo slow... and my lack of sleep contributed to my very yelly attitude that morning. Pretty much everything set me off. They weren't listening to me: "Why is NO ONE LISTENING TO MEE!!!" They didn't eat their breakfast fast enough: "Eat your FRICKING BREAKFAST!!!" And at the end of all this, they were sitting on the floor, trying to find which shoes go on which feet, all while bickering about something I don't even remember, and I yelled, "Everyone SHUT UP!!!"
Now, we don't say shut up. I teach my kids, saying shut up is rude, and we don't tell each other to shut up. But at this moment, it was my emotional reaction.
I liked how Lisa explained that these out of control emotional reactions tend to pop up when something/someone either "exposes" us, or "opposes" us. Upon first glance, I was feeling opposed. I needed the morning to go as planned, as I had planned it, so we could get out of the house at the planned time.
But, when I thought about my temper tantrum later on, and remembered how I'd ended my tantrum in a heap of tears -- upset that I couldn't find any of my older daughter's water bottles because she'd lost them all at school -- I realized I also felt very exposed that morning.
Do you often catch yourself yelling or criticizing your kids, and a little part of you realizes you're actually yelling at yourself? It's not them that's failed you, you feel as if you've failed yourself? You haven't met your own expectations?
Monday morning, as I apologized to my 6 year old before dropping her off at school, I recognized that I was angry at myself that morning. "I should have's" had been running through my head all morning. I should have found another water bottle for my daughter to use, I knew they were missing; it was a mommy-fail on my part. But instead of accepting that and moving forward, I exploded in rage and blamed my daughter for her carelessness. She's 6. She loses stuff. Duh.
I also was angry at myself because my kids were still acting "coughy" after having been sick over vacation, and I was feeling like a failure. "I should have" made them go to bed earlier, given them cough syrup the night before, put a humidifier in their room... I could keep going. But the fact is, kids get sick, and they have residual coughs, and instead of accepting that, I got angry. And it all came out towards them.
So, coming back to Lisa's talk, she has some suggestion for people like me, us "Exploders."
She asks us to bring PAUSE. To think: am I about to attack or address the issue? I guess apparently there's a moment between our emotions and our reaction. I have a hard time finding that moment, but I'm going to try. Anyway, it's in that very brief moment, that we must think. We must pause. It's healthy to address the issue; it's unhealthy to attack the people we love.
I'm very blessed that when I said, "Bella, I'm so sorry mommy was so cranky to you this morning." She, without any hesitation, said, "It's okay, Mommy. I forgive you!" (And I cried behind my sunglasses because how humbling is THAT?)
I really don't want to put her in that place very often. When I mess up, I've made it a point to apologize to my kids; but I hate having to do it. Because that means I did something awful. And they don't deserve that. And I want them to be able to see how I react to life, and have it be a good example. I don't want this short time to go by and have it all be a lesson in "What not to do's."
So here's to learning how to control the Beast. We are tired, emotional, hormonal, guilt-ridden mommies; but through Christ who strengthens us, we can do this.
Let's do this thing!