Dealing with the Prickly Angries

by kate on January 13, 2021

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I used to think that the definition of insanity was doing things over and over and expecting a different result. Come to find out I was wrong. Actually, it’s the definition of parenting.

See, I keep having these expectations. That’s my down fall. I expect in terms of outcomes. I expect that my older daughter will sit properly in her chair and eat her food with her fork and knife. She’s 4. She knows how to do this. Or I expect that she’ll get dressed - in her clothes, NOT her pjs or her baby sister’s clothes or her tutu costume - in the morning. Without being reminded umpteen times.

And yet so clearly I see my role in this. I remind her (read: nag) many times giving her the opportunity (!) to correct her behavior. She’s 4. She should want to please me. She should want to show me how capable she is. Right? Right?

But I get ahead of myself. Did you notice how I started off the bat talking about expectations? I can feel my anger tickling my insides, just waiting to shoot all through my body even just writing about our mornings.

I don’t know exactly how this happens but each morning, invariably pre-coffee, my older daughter is wound up like a top, spinning about doing exactly what she wants, when she wants to and I bounce off of her, getting angrier and angrier, when she doesn’t listen.

And that’s my trigger. Not dawdling per se but the passive-aggressive snubbing of the rules/routine/my wishes. I feel snubbed. This goes way back to my own childhood where respect was a biggie in our house, as was the booming voice who demanded it more that elicited it. I see that now. Lot a good that does me.

And sure enough, the second I feel disrespected I feel my anger puff up my chest.

Four years into this experiment called frustration parenting, I’m learning - slowly - that it’s not the product, it’s the process. Just like grad school. Or any school. Or anything, really.

Process. Check.

Taken that way, the anger dissipates. Some.

I read an article by Elizabeth Pantley, author of the No-Cry Sleep Solution, on parental anger. Her advice is simple: know your triggers, have a plan, learn, be flexible, let your love guide you. I’m still stuck on knowing my triggers and creating a plan. Tell me, if I make a plan and my plan is what will see me through the angry times, then how do I fold ‘be flexible’ in? Just wondering.

I’ve got a ways to go I think.

I write this not as an ‘angry mommmy’ or anything. But I do find that I get angry at times, usually the same times each day. I don’t think that I’m alone in saying that parenting is frustrating and experiencing frustration creates anger. Am I the only one who feels this?

So here’s my plan (see, I’m learning, I’m learning!): Let’s start with triggers - mine is not listening. Good. I know that and and I know it will happen. When it does, I plan to breathe. Yup. Simple and easy. Breathe. Now, I heard a new phrase, ‘listening ears.’ I’m gonna ask my girls if they have their listening ears on. I might have to check underneath their messy hair. I might have to acknowledge that they most definitely DO NOT have their listening ears on and go hunting all around their little bodies for ears. This might take a while but hopefully it’ll make us all laugh a bit. And from there I’ll let the process lead us. I’ll focus on their little smiles and bouncy ringlets to let my love colored glasses see me through the tough spots.

And that’s my plan to keep plugging away at this thing called insanity parenting. What’s yours?

Oh, and now that we’ve talked angry, let’s cultivate the happy.

photo credit: Furryscaly

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Adventures In Babywearing January 13, 2021 at 8:13 am

My anger triggers are fatigue (so I really need to get in bed earlier) and results of my laziness - when I put off things and then have to deal with them, I snap at everyone. Taking time to really sit and spend actual time face to face with the kids has helped so much, and putting less important and distracting things to the side.

Steph

Penny W. January 13, 2021 at 11:49 am

You guys are both so right — spending a few minutes deeply engaged with your child (the one that isn’t listening or responding) can do wonders to curb that anger in the first place. When we are rushed we sometimes view our children as hurdles to jump over, sheep to herd to a certain pen by a certain time, and we forget they are their own people, with feelings that can be hurt and imaginations that are racing too fast to hear us begging them to get their coats on.

I get tired of arguing the fine print with my youngest. I say, “get dressed” and he puts clothes on over his pajamas. He thinks its so funny: “You didn’t say take off my pajamas first, Mom!” but to me it’s another five minutes wasted when we are already running late. So yeah, seeing him as the fun-loving guy he is, I should probably build that five-minute delay into our mornings each day, and let us both take a minute to share a laugh.

Carly at living The Scream January 14, 2021 at 2:46 pm

well said. I have also found myself getting angrier lately. I have no patience whatsoever! My trigger is messes. My daughters just have the hardest time cleaning up after themselves.

Parenting can be so frustrating I am so glad we have all sorts of blogs we can read and relate to other Moms going through the same thing!

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