Turning a corner

origin_44049363We turned a little corner today. Who knows if it’s permanent, or if the change will stick, but today we shifted. Today my voice wasn’t raised. Today I kept it calm, and came up with a different way of doing things. Today I was the person I like to be. There were challenges, sure. Plenty of them, in fact. There were things the kids did that made me wobble perilously. Things that made me worried and frustrated. A fairly typical day in my house. But I didn’t do it. I didn’t shout.

There’s one thing I can put my finger on. One thing I have been doing in the lead up to today. And that’s being kind to myself – on the days that were nothing like today. On the days when my frustrations bubbled over. When the demands were too much to bear. When I had no resources available to me other than a loud warning roar, which I regretted as it flew out of my mouth – doing nothing good for anybody, apart from releasing my feelings of desperation and powerlessness. And shocking the kids (very briefly) into zipping it for a short time. But making no one (me included) feel very good about themselves.

For a few days on the trot in fact, repeatedly on some days, that roar made an unwelcome appearance – but I didn’t despair. I didn’t berate myself for being a big loser of a mother who yells. I noticed what I did. I noticed, and I went “huh – that was loud and angry.” I noticed that it made me feel sad and full of regret. I acknowledged that I felt powerless in that moment. I acknowledged that this was all I could come up with in that moment. That yes I was flawed. But yes, I was also suffering, and in need of some kindness and understanding. And given that I was on my own with the kids, I gave that to myself.

In all the mistakes I made, and in all the times I came up short by getting shouty – joining the melee rather than dealing with it – the one thing I got right was that. The one thing I did a good job at was putting a friendly arm round my own shoulder. Giving myself a reassuring squeeze, and telling myself that I understood. That I was doing my best. That, as I’m forever telling the kids, everyone makes mistakes.

And you know what? – I think that’s why we turned a corner today. I think that’s why, in the face of the very same nonsense I had been encountering for days, I found it in me to do different and frankly do a bit better. Not because I felt ashamed, and like I had to do better. Not because I was mortified and disgusted by my yelling. But because I’d looked out for myself. I’d consoled and comforted myself when it all fell apart. That’s why I felt ok to try something new today.

It’s going to go wrong again – I have no doubt. I’ve known myself and my kids long enough to know that before too long we will find ourselves trapped in a car together, or frenzied of a morning and engaged in a cycle of whinging (theirs) and frustration (mine) and it’ll bubble over. And even though I won’t want to, I’m likely to raise my voice, if only to be heard over their dissonant chorus. But I hope I’ll remember the corner we turned today. I hope I’ll remember that we can turn it again. I hope I can remember to speak kindly to my flawed and imperfect self, and encourage myself to get up, dust myself down and do it all again.

photo credit: drp via photopin cc

One thought on “Turning a corner

  1. Thank you for this post! I would have never guessed I had it in me to be a yeller…but I never guessed I’d have twins, one the spitting image in both appearance and personality of my late little brother. It’s a gift God has given me, to have that little face in front of me again. She tests me at every turn, just like he used to. Deep breath, quick prayer and on with our day.

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