I grit my teeth and steel myself for yet another endless day. One car is in the shop and the other is stuttering, asthma is acting up, printer is broken, furnace is moody, and when you sit on that middle cushion of the couch you go through to the springs and knee yourself in the chin. Then there’s outside. Cloudy skies. Dirty nuisance snow. Biting cold. Endless grey. I got in bed and pulled the covers over my head. I got up. Nothing had changed.
I read a parenting blog that mentions the end-of-the-day feeling of “just trying not to yell.” I chuckle, not the way I was meant to. When I yell, it comes from somewhere and jumps into the room without my permission. “Just trying not to yell” is actually a pretty good day. A bad day is endless grey.
I’ve always been told my face betrays me, we MacDonald women [mom’s maiden name] don’t suffer in silence, and that I can access scary ferocity when crossed. Mad or blue, my kids see it and hear it. I am an imperfect parent. In addition, we are in a big transition that’s not going smoothly, as we try to relocate several states away. So on top of my transparency, we are asking our kids to accept a shaky and unknown future, and the for sale sign out front is a constant reminder. It’s a lot to ask of all of us over time.
Picking a car up from one mechanic and dropping the other off to another mechanic, I felt up to my neck in muck and told Running Mate, “Ug, I’m losing my optimism.” He put his right hand palm up, shrugged, and said evenly “You can’t.” And that was the perfect answer. Giving up is the least desired, least viable, least helpful…. and it is structurally impossible. He reminded me of my mantra “It’s not IF things will work out, it’s HOW things will work out.” Dammit. My own words! But it’s a new day, and I feel the clouds behind me. Close, but behind me. My kids see and hear the change.
I assume if you’re reading, you’re parents. And in contrast to a lot that I’m reading for parents these days, you have my permission to show emotions other than happiness. You have my permission to be upset, sad, worried….. and show it. However, this permission comes with the condition that you move through these feelings and model for your children how to do that, too. It doesn’t have to be with poise, though a little dignity would be nice. 🙂 As a kid, my family’s emotions were like a box of pingpong balls, dropped from a high spot. But the opposite of that is NOT constant pleasantness. It’s management, feeling your feelings, and not being sidelined by or fearful of them. There may come a day when I never yell. In the mean time, it’s important to show forgiveness after anger, bouncing back from sadness, and resolution of worry. I’d love to hear your story of bouncing back in the comments. Did your kids follow your recovery? Do you have a tip for putting your feelings into perspective? Let me know!