Today I am mostly angry and quickly realising how easy it is to ‘do’ parenting right when things are going well. When every other area of my life is going swimmingly I am excellent at spending quality time indulging the kids at play, diffusing tantrums and quarrels without snapping and being fully engaged in my job of educating and raising them to the best of my ability. But if something else is veering off course, my patience quickly disappears and I just want to shut myself in the bathroom.
Today I am angry at our landlady. I’m angry that we are being rushed into moving by a fairly arbitrary and unnecessary eviction notice (she could have just chosen not to renew our contract as the dates for that and her notice coincide). I’m angry because although we were going to move this year anyway it wasn’t going to be now when our resources (both financial and time) are so limited. I’m angry at myself for being so disappointed that our application wasn’t chosen for what would have been (we thought) the perfect house for us. I’m angry that the right house that fits all our specifications doesn’t seem to exist. I’m angry that my bad mood has seeped out and is affecting the kids. Sigh.
But they say that a problem shared is a problem halved and as I tap away I’m feeling less angry and more just weary. I’m also realising how self indulgent my anger today has been. At the end of the day, we will always have a roof over our heads and food in our kitchen regardless of what house we live in. We have money coming in, freedom of expression and have good health. Most importantly we have each other. I know it’s all relative but usually I err on the side of seizing the positive and think that’s definitely what I need to do to pull myself out of this funk. A verse I keep coming back to is from Jeremiah 29:11 ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare, not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.’ I find it so comforting to remember and links in nicely with the age old ‘what will be, will be.’
We were just getting the kids into the bath when Sophia announced ‘no accidents today! Hurrah!’ Might not sound like much but an achievement for my forgetful, easily distractable girl. A moment to share her jubilation, one I could have easily missed but that brings her a sense of pride. The key is definitely (for me anyway) to keep rejoicing in those little moments. Those moments occur in their droves when around children and on their own might not seem like much but accumulated are enough to beat the blues.
I haven’t read many parenting books and Dan and I tend to just parent by instinct and roll with the punches. But one of the few things I have read that stuck with me was a guy talking about working out the motivation behind less than desirable behaviour. He posited that it usually came down to childish immaturity or wilful disobedience. The latter might require correction or discipline (positive and gentle in our household) but the former needs our patience, grace, love and maybe an occasional quiet kind word or reminder.
They aren’t trying to annoy us when they spill their drink for the third time that day, they aren’t being vindictive when they traipse mud through the house and they’re not trying to tire us out when they wake screaming from a nightmare and can’t calm down. They are just being kids. This is something I need to remind myself of daily, sometimes hourly! If I snap every time they inconvenience me I’m going to squash their bright, loving spirits. I need to gently guide them, encourage them and build them up. They are so eager to please and desperate to join in. I don’t want that fire stamped out by my grumpy adult impatience and particularities.
So having morphed from angry and ranting to being annoyingly optimistic in the space of 1000 words (give or take), I might as well end with the lyrics immortalised in Monty Python’s Life of Brian, altogether now…
Always look on the bright side of life …
(You’ll be humming it all day now!)