Today my friend very kindly told me that my cellphone called her and she heard me screaming at my kids. I was awfully embarrassed, but thankful she told me. She had just lost her foster kids and the last thing she needed in the world to hear was me having an absolute mommy-meltdown tantrum.
On the way home from picking up my kindergartener at the bus stop, my kids did what they have done dozens of times before: race on the way home. They were pushing and shoving each other trying to get home first.
I was trying in vain to catch up with the older two, with the littlest one in tow and despite my yelling at them to stop, my kids ended up pushing each other into the street in front of an oncoming car. There was a little boy about 8 or 9 walking towards them up the street and he was trying to go around them and so he ended up in the street also in front of the car.
Fortunately the car stopped in time and honked and went around. I was mad at my kids for endangering themselves and the other little boy, but what I was really mad about was the foster care system hurting my friend's family and me. That anger transferred right over to my kids' behavior. I exploded.
I grabbed them in each hand and hauled them the rest of the way home, yelling and berating them and calling them stupid and awful things. At home, I yelled at them the whole time they took off their snow gear and I even yelled at them for not getting their stuff off fast enough.
I don't know exactly at what point my phone called my friend, or what she heard, but none of it was gracious or nurturing or kind. None of that was anything she should have had to deal with hearing, especially when she was going through so much right after losing her kids.
I was mad at the universe about what was happened to my friend that day. I was mad that I had lost our first foster kids and that my dear friend was having to go through the same awful pain and there was nothing I could do to prevent it. And certainly, there is no excuse for me channeling my mood onto my kids. I'm a grown up. I should find the right ways of coping with my emotions.
I already knew I had problems with transferring anger onto my kids. This past summer when I was trying to help my mother-in-law and we were renovating the basement, my husband "checked out" from time to time which was his way of coping with the stress.
My husband's way of dealing with things is healthy. He would step back and think through things so that he could deal with them. However, I felt angry and abandoned and frequently I found myself yelling at the kids when I was actually mad and resentful of my husband taking time away.
I got this book about 3 months ago, "ScreamFree Parenting: Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool" by Hal Runkel
. The philosophy behind it is to grow yourself, find your own peace so that you can be cool-headed in any situation. It really worked. I still had my grumpy moments, but I was dealing with my emotions in much more healthier ways and not yelling at my kids very often.
But somehow this past week, I forgot to take care of myself. The event of my friend losing her kids brought out all kinds of pain and anger for me. And instead of finding a quiet moment to deal with it, I continued on with my day. And by not taking care of myself, I wasn't ready to deal with my kids.
And on top of that, my friend had to hear some of that awful stuff coming from me, a person she trusts to babysit her own son. So tonight, I'm pulling out that book again and reading it again. I can't take back the horrible things I said, but hopefully I can learn from this and be a better Mommy in the future.Do you find stress in your life affecting your parenting? How do you cope with it?