Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Screaming and Self-Help

I've become the mom I never thought I'd be. I've become the mom I have always judged so harshly. I've become the worst version of myself. I've become a screamer.

I scream in the morning for the kids to get out of bed. I scream for them to get their shoes on. I scream at them for fighting with each other. I scream at them to pick up their toys. I scream and scream and scream and SCREAM!

Just to be clear, I'm not psychotic nor do I have turrets. However, I clearly have kids with hearing impairments. My first, second or third set of instructions tend to fall useless on their little ears. It is only when faced with a yelling psychotic banshee do they actually take action. They do not hear or acknowledge me until I'm completely stroking out. Veins and eyeballs start bulging from my head, which spins out of control in circles. 

Can I hire someone else to be the yelling psychotic banshee? I don't want to do it. I want to be the loving, caring, cookie-baking mom. Yet I've become a beast - a beast who doesn't bake and seems more likely to eat her young.  Feeling like an ineffective bad mother sucks. It's been bringing me down, and I'm sure the kids are on the verge of nightmares. So, I've taken action. 

I did a little research and found this book: 


When the package came in the mail, turns out I didn't order the physical book. I had ordered the audio CD.

I knew I'd never get around to returning the CD, so I decided to keep it and listen to it daily in the minivan after I dropped the girls off at school. If someone had told me 15 years ago while I was cruising around in my Dodge Daytona smoking Marlboro lights while listening to jam bands that my future held a minivan that smelled of sour milk and self-help audio books, I might have permanently joined up with the jam band hippies and taken off on tour to sell burritos. 

However, I really did enjoy this book. It had a lot of good, practical advice and I started to make little changes that appeared to be working. After a couple of weeks of applying my new zen mommy attitude, I could feel the tide starting to change. The entire family seemed more at peace. That is, until this:

While I was downstairs, Hadley decided that she needed her own room. So she took ALL of the toys out of the toy room, threw them in the hall, took ALL of her clothes, shoes and books and threw them into the toy room. She also pulled her mattress off the bed frame.

Justin was at work. I was on my own. 

I would not scream. I would not yell. The $12.00 I spent on the audio book for my minivan would not be in vain. I was going to hold it together and be the mom I knew I could be. 

I turned and found this in the sink:

I turned and then found this:

While I was accessing the damage, Jack put a box of tissues in the sink and then helped himself to a block of cheese. 

It was all unraveling. It was all falling apart. I was losing my mind. This was not being late for school. This was pandemonium.  I could feel my banshee beast awakening, but I reached down deep for my inner Mrs. Brady and asked to speak to Hadley in my room. 

I asked her why she decided to move her room and asked her what she was feeling. Yes, of course, the self-help book is big on feelings.

She explained and I listened. I did not lecture, offer advice or cry. I listened. When she was finished I told her that the toy room could be her room but she would have to help find new places for everything and we'd have to work on it together.

That's when she told me, "Well, I put all of my things away - so I'm finished."

Deep breathes. I told her that while that was true, she had also left a gigantic mess that she was responsible for.

That's when Hadley lost it. She proclaimed she would NOT help clean the mess and in her own way, told me to go to hell.

About this time, Justin came home. He told me not to worry about the mess, that we'd get it all put back together and that he was hoping he could squeeze a nap in in a bit.


Justin lit my fuse. My inner banshee awoke.

A NAP? The toddler had a block of cheese, there was now an entire roll of toilet paper in the toilet, Hadley had drug her mattress into the hall and my husband wanted to take a nap.  A NAP????

We were clearly not on the same page. Not even the same book. He was in a book of Nursery Rhymes, and I was in Dante's Inferno. 

I could feel my blood boiling. I felt helpless and surrounded by crazy.

I let loose. I screamed at Justin that he would not be taking a nap. I screamed at Hadley for moving her room. I would have screamed at Cameron but I couldn't find her (My smart girl was probably hiding) And just to put the exclamation point on my fit, I yanked the cheese away from baby.

There done. The mess remained but I felt better.

In the days to come, I resumed my inner-zen self-help mommy routine. In regards to the screaming fit about the big bedroom move, I resolved to not feel guilty. It was, after-all, Justin who lit my fuse. Totally his fault. Nowhere in the audio book does it say you shouldn't scream at your husband.

So much of my time as a mother is spent searching for patience. Sometimes, I find it and yet, sometimes I lose my cool and hurl words in extremely loud decibels. 

Instead of loading myself with guilt every time my patience has been lost, I'm simply going to resolve to do better - be better - to keep reminding myself that there is another way to be.  

I will also continue to remember that my children are amazing and they love me happy, sad, screaming or mad  - just as I love them.