I stood in the middle of my kids’ room, unsure of what was happening. There were Legos everywhere and a broken microphone on the floor. My older son stood, clenching his fists and stomping his feet while his face turned a deeper and deeper shade of red. My 4-year old son sat on the floor, tears bubbling from his eyes and mouth open in a scream.
10 minutes ago, the scene in our house was the complete opposite. I had just returned home from a full day at a publishing company where I listened to the company’s authors and experts talk about the latest in health, fitness, nutrition and wellness. My mind was buzzing with new ideas and information. I came home to find the kids playing nicely and quietly together in their room, building a new Legotown.
How did we go 180 degrees in that short a period of time?
It started with the broken microphone and some miscommunication. Before we knew it, our household was sucked into an out-of-control vortex. I could sense that everyone was overtired – kids and parents. I asked the boys to take a break from their toys so that everyone could calm down. I carried my younger son out to the living room with me, sat him on my lap to talk to him.
It felt like we were on a roller coaster. The boys started to come down from the peak of their anger but it was only a shallow dip before they were swept up to another peak.
And I lost it. I started yelling. I lost my patience, tolerance and compassion. I was angry because my kids were not listening to reason (I mean, shouldn’t 6- and 4-year olds understand reason at this point? note sarcasm), because they were being disrespectful and rude, and because they were being ungrateful.
There was a part of me that felt like Mommy was entitled to be angry too and to express my emotions. It’s not good to keep your feelings bottled up, right? Isn’t that how the saying goes?
But the thing is? Getting angry didn’t make me feel better. It made me feel shitty, particularly when this is an area that I’ve been trying to work on. It made my husband feel shitty. It made my kids feel shitty. And there was no calm after-the-storm either. The situation felt completely out of my control, like one of those situations where you can just sit and watch and wonder what went wrong.
I remembered something Kelly Corrigan and Gretchen Rubin said at the event I went to earlier in the day. Angry feelings often just inflame more angry feelings rather than release them. Yet, if you act positively in those moments, the angry feelings will start to feel less intense.
Maybe there is something to all this happiness research.
Of course, half an hour later, everyone was back to normal, giggling and laughing and getting ready for bed. However, the evening still stuck with me. There has to be a different way to manage these roller coaster rides. Maybe next time I shouldn’t get on-board.
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