Motherhood School

I had to write sentences yesterday.

There was what felt like an epic battle of wills involving much screaming (that high-pitched kind), crying, refusing to cooperate, etcetera. And I just lost it. I am not proud of myself.

I hit.

I yelled.

All while saying, “you need to calm down and control yourself.” Ironic but true. So I made myself write sentences because that only seemed fair: “I will control my anger and not hit my children.” Fifty times.

After some cooling down time and apologies and sorry-crying, we tried again. And we both did much better.

Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

Whether it’s all the time we have to spend in each other’s company with so few social outlets, or the political craziness that is happening, or–oh yeah, a global pandemic, it seems there are so many triggers right now. Bad word choice. Sorry. But the truth is, being a mother has shown me that I’ve never really dealt with anger all that well, and I’m worried that I won’t be giving my children the tools they need if I haven’t even mastered them. I try to teach them to breathe deeply, count to ten, and get some quiet space if they’re feeling angry, but I’m not always a very good model of that.

So, what do you do when you find yourself in a space where you know what you need to teach but not how to teach it?

And what are some constructive ways you’ve found to deal with anger? Teach me!

with love, Anita

3 thoughts on “Motherhood School

  1. Sounds like you’re right on track with modeling calming down time and apologies. All of us lose it sometimes. There are two books that have helped me a lot with handling my anger: Parenting from the Inside Out by Daniel J. Siegel and Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen. Both emphasize the importance of catching it early (before you really lose it!) and realizing that you have many options. When we’re at our worst we believe that we have very limited choices (e.g. either my child wins or I do). When we’re at our best we can be flexible and creative in our responses. Both books had a lot of good strategies for accessing that creative part of our brain instead of going into panic mode.

    It’s also good to model lifelong learning strategies: I’m reading this book, going to this counselor, practicing this strategy so I can learn to be a better mother. That’s a powerful lesson too.

    PS. I’ve been meaning to thank you for writing here–I always enjoy reading it. So: Thank you!

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    1. Wow. Thanks so much for the response and the book recommendations! And the encouragement. What you wrote about thinking we have limited choices is spot-on. When someone wins, someone else loses–which is not the overall relationship dynamic I want to have with my children!

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  2. Every mother has been here at some point or another. Be gracious to yourself. There is no perfect parent, or parenting perfectly. I have learned that when I realize that I failed in a situation I have the opportunity to teach by giving an apology (or another appropriate humble act) providing an example of what to do when we make mistakes. Teaching by example how to say ā€œIā€™m sorry.ā€ is a very important tool for the future.

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