I lose my temper.
Usually when it's late and I'm tired and my daughter is not sleeping or my stepson is not listening and I feel like I've been doing a back bend all day. I could blame it on my pregnancy, and yes the hormones intensify emotions, but truthfully I was known for losing my temper long before this baby grew inside of me. In fact, I’ve come a long way since last year when I took to slamming doors to express frustration.
It's amazing how swiftly I can switch between irritability and softness. The anger comes in like a tidal wave, without warning, and though I know somewhere in my rational side that raising my voice or using that tone will only make things worse, the rational side of me has hibernated for the moment.
I am ashamed to admit that my three year-old daughter has learned how to snap me out of it. She will plead through her tears, “be sweet to me! I just want mama love.” And I switch back to softness as the guilt comes crashing down. Like a storm brewing in my veins. Uncontrollable, untenable. A toxic spill that chokes me with regret, even after forgiveness and hugs.
What am I doing to my family? Where does my evil twin hide and how can I stop her from lashing out?
Since I blog about mindfulness and parenting and my quest to be a better person, people out there think I'm a good mother. Perhaps above average. But the truth is that I am just as fallible as anybody. I blog about mothering because I want to learn and internalize life lessons as I gather them. Writing is a certain catharsis. Publicly sharing my struggles and my epiphanies keeps me accountable.
There are better methods for handling strong-willed children than speaking meanly. Yelling is not the only way to capture attention. But my evil twin doesn’t know how to love. So how do I sequester her away?
One answer, I have found, is to breathe together. With the children. Hold their little shoulders, look into their eyes and speak slowly, “I am going to take three deep breaths and when I'm done I want you to listen to me.”
When we connect upon our shared breath, we have the clarity to understand one another. And since my evil twin thrives on separateness, she dissolves like the clouds after a storm.