Friday, January 20, 2012

Keep Calm and Carry On

I was so happy to get back from the holidays.  There's nothing like sleeping in your own bed after being on the road with kids for a few weeks.  And there's nothing like returning to your routine.  I would be lost without our routine and I rely on it heavily.  Last Monday I realized that even a "long weekend" is enough to throw me off.  Sadly, I am the kind of Mama who is burnt out after spending a few days straight with my kids...without our routine.

I won't get into details, but the highlight of last Monday morning was driving around downtown Washington trying to find a parking spot so we could go to the Natural History Museum.  I had forgotten that everyone else would be doing the exact same thing as the museum is located on the National Mall and Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  After 45 minutes of circling the museum to the North, South, East and West, and having every spot I had identified stolen by a more aggressive driver, I lost it.  I hit my steering wheel, started crying and mumbling crazily that I was NEVER going to find a spot and that I was just going to have to GIVE UP.  My daughter was already crying as we were supposed to be meeting her friend inside the museum and my son started wailing because he wanted to see the dinosaurs. 

I like to consider myself a good driver with relatively crafty downtown navigation abilities, but I simply could not find my parking mojo on Monday.  It killed me to do it, but I actually had to give up and create an alternative plan to try and make it up to my kids.  We headed to Georgetown to watch the ducks on the river and grab a snack by the C&O Canal.  I recovered the morning, kind of, but felt so terrible about my inability to keep my cool in front of my kids.  What kind of example was I setting as I blubbered my self deprecating nonsense, occasionally yelling at parking spot stealers while pounding my steering wheel in frustration?

I don't want to be that kind of Mom. I want them to learn how to keep their cool.  I want them to learn how to not take the wrong things too seriously.  I want them to learn how to find humour in the every day struggle (although we did manage to laugh about it on the drive home as I fed them cookies and played their favorite annoying Little People CD). 

All this is to say that I am tired of not being able to stay as calm as I would like when I am presented with life's constant little challenges.  I don't want to yell and freak out when things don't go my way or when my kids do the things that kids do.  I don't want them to be afraid of me and the possible reaction I may have. 

That's a lot of things that I want and that I don't want.  But other than tattooing "Keep Calm and Carry On" in some highly visible location, how can I deal with this unsavory part of my self?

I went to a lecture at the little guy's school last night on "How to Raise a Responsible Child" and I was reminded how important my role is in developing my kids' character.  They learn from what they see and I need to teach them by setting a good example.  This is SO OBVIOUS yet so hard to remember on a minute by minute basis. 

When I lose my cool, they must think that it is OK to lose your cool.  When I am checking emails and not listening to them, and then get annoyed and snap when they keep "bugging" me, they are learning that it is OK to ignore people while you fiddle with a technological gadget.  And when I yell at them in the grocery store (or any public place, really) because their behavior is less than exemplary, I am embarrassing both myself and them because I should be able to think of more creative ways to handle situations that I have been consistently confronted with for the past 5 years.  If I can not be a responsible parent, how can I expect them to be responsible kids?

Yikes!!!!!  They are going to need years of therapy because of me!!

So I am taking a small step.  I got home from last night's lecture and signed up for Managing Anger: A Parents Guide which is being offered at the Parent Encouragement Program (PEP), the same folks who held the preschooler classes I took last winter.  It is only 3 sessions, but I am hoping the 6 hours of instruction, thought and discussion will help me learn how to better deal with my parental frustrations.

Because as much as I'd like to make it to yoga and work on my deep breathing techniques, I think I am in  need of a supportive classroom environment where I can remember that I am not alone in this.  Parenting is the hardest thing I have ever done and I want to make sure that I am doing it to the best of my abilities.  What is that wise old saying, again?  Nothing good comes easily?  Well I am going to work on this and while I would not call it a New Year's resolution, I am hoping I can become a better Mama so my kids will end up better people. 

1 comment:

Mamabeing said...

Sweet Mama, kids bring out the crazy in all of us. I am struggling with the same thing, confronted with my own limitations in how I behave vs. how I want my kids to behave. Just this morning I grabbed my son by the arm and pulled him because I wanted to tell him NOT to grab his sister by the leg and try to pull her off his puzzle. Is that crazy? Yes! But you are a great Mom too, and life is real, and if you can show your kids that you are looking at yourself and working on improving, that is a great thing for them to learn to do, cause we all need it!