Roller Coaster Rides

leaf pile

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.

raking leaves

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.

How do you manage anger and other emotionally intense situations?


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  1. says

    I suck tremendously in this aspect of my life when it comes to being a parent. I really dislike this about myself but I’m working on it. I actually have to catch myself and almost mentally grind to a halt to change my thoughts and behaviors. It’s a process that for me I believe will be lifelong but the impatient part of me is trying to speed it up.
    Melissa Burton recently posted..Tunes For Tuesday – Being Thankful with The HoursMy Profile

  2. says

    I have a post in draft titled “I am an angry mom”.
    Anger is my undoing. It never ends well. And I KNOW this. Yet.
    It’s something I’m working on. But it’s hard.
    Commiserations. xo
    Alison recently posted..Comfort FoodMy Profile

  3. says

    It seems like this roller coaster ride has become the new norm around my house. It seems like it’s just a slippery slope at times when the tempers start to flare. I hate it and I want to get off. It’s something that I definitely need to work on especially since my husband and I said we were not going to be the “yelling” parents. Easier said than done it appears.
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..Ready for ChangeMy Profile

  4. says

    It’s so difficult! I think every mom struggles with this and I know I do. I try my best to not yell. I’m not always successful but if I can shift the attention away from whatever just happened (which you tried to do!) a lot of times, it works. Each day I try to start fresh and remind myself that they’re only 4 and some day, I’m going to miss this.
    Allie recently posted..Allie’s AbsMy Profile

  5. says

    Christine, Thank you so much for sharing with us. We’ve all been there, felt the same way. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lost it with my daughters and then felt totally shitty about it! But that’s the difference between good and not-so-good parents. Good parents feel shitty about losing their cool and try harder the next time. Good parents realize that losing it is part of the process and instead of wallowing in self-pity, find better ways to handle the roller coaster ride. You are a fabulous mama, no doubt about it!
    Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama recently posted..Ready to Rock Richmond: Race GoalsMy Profile

  6. says

    It is a roller coaster ride!! Sometimes I handle things well and other times (usually when other parts of my life are pulling on me) I don’t. I always make sure though that no matter what as I put them to bed I apologize and let them know that tomorrow is a new day and that no matter what I love them! You are an awesome mom…we all have those times!
    Fancy Nancy recently posted..Cranberry Bogs and Santa ClausMy Profile

  7. says

    “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.”

    I love this, Christine. In fact, I can’t wait to try the latter part next time I’m having angry feelings. The roller coaster tends to hit me more in my dealings with my husband than with my kids. But it always leaves me feeling the same way you describe. I always vow not to get on the ride next time and sometimes I don’t but then there are the times I do, despite my best intentions.
    Shana Norris recently posted..10 Weekly GoalsMy Profile

  8. says

    I have so been there (this week!) I have a quick temper and it’s pretty much the bane of my existence…and sometimes my kids push me to my breaking point. Just this week I lost it with my daughter as I tried to help her clean her black hole of a room. I always feel bad about the yelling, and I always sit them down and apologize later when I’ve calmed down. I just wish I could keep that darn temper in check!
    Stacey recently posted..What’s on Your Bookshelf?My Profile

  9. says

    I have lived through those roller coaster rides more times than I care to admit! As my boys have gotten older it has gotten easier because I really can hold them to the high expectations that I have. I wish I could say I new the way to get off the ride but I don’t – I had to work hard to just hold on many times!!
    Hang in there – you are a great mom and the boys will love you through all of the ups and downs!!!
    Kim recently posted..I Choose Happiness!!!My Profile

  10. says

    Oh gosh, been there often for sure. I feel like sometimes, even if it’s a rare occasion, you just have to yell to feel better but there has to be a better outlet…I just haven’t found it yet. Luckily kids are so resilient. These days if I yell (and I am definitely yelling more these days), they just totally ignore me and carry on with their business with a smile on their faces. Stinkers!
    Melanie @ Nutritious Eats recently posted..Christmas Chocolate Drops with Dove® ChocolateMy Profile

  11. says

    Tears are welling up right now because this has been me on too many occasion lately. The look on my daughter’s face the other day after I lost my temper lead me to tears. It’s not easy sometimes (or, most of the time…).
    Michelle recently posted..Decisions.My Profile

  12. says

    Oh gosh–how many thousands of times have I been there? Parenting is the most trying (and rewarding) thing on the planet. Period. You reacted like the human you are. And I admire that you want to change that reaction–that’s what counts. Thank you for the reminder!

    Love Kelly Corrigan, btw. My neighbor was in sorority with her and turned me onto her first book.
    misszippy recently posted..My Richmond Marathon “Plan”My Profile

  13. says

    I have a terrible temper sometimes. I can’t stand when we’re already late to school and Scarlet is dragging her feet. This is daily. And then I get very mad and we have an argument and that’s how the day starts. Or I reel it in and get calm and I swear she’s so much more loving to me all day.
    I need more days like that. She’s not going to change fast! Four-year-olds aren’t known for timeliness..
    Tamara recently posted..Beware of Darkness.My Profile

  14. says

    Oh I totally can relate to this one. Most of the time I’m pretty calm and can stay calm. But when I get mad etc too I always feel like I didn’t handle myself or the situation well. I find it hardest when the kids are being rude, ungrateful etc as well, I think because it makes me feel like I haven’t done a good job with them and then I get mad at myself,
    Jess recently posted..Lululemon controversy and Raid Automatic Giveaway WinnerMy Profile

  15. says

    Gosh, it is tough. We are human right? Sometimes the day, the energy, it just gets to us. I remember when I was younger being acutely aware of how my mother’s mood affected the energy of the house. And how when she was gone, the house felt empty, and sad. I’d like to think I could be a very serene mom, always happy and laughing, carrying lots of light with me all the time, but I know that just isn’t possible. I think the important thing is to not beat yourself up and when the energy gets intense try to shift it. In the end, you all still love each other.
    Stevie recently posted..Tiny Baby ShoesMy Profile

  16. says

    SO TRUE about anger begetting anger. I got angry with my oldest on Monday and she finally said to me, “Your yelling about this isn’t going to change the way I behave. I”m the only one that can change the way I behave.” Wow. I calmed down and once we got back to talking about all of the good things that happened that day, fortunately, it felt like the anger never happened. Progress. I guess?
    Ilene recently posted..Upside DownMy Profile

  17. says

    I know this roller coaster. That feeling is awful – maybe worse now that I am more self aware than when I started this journey and I can call it when it’s happening and still, I can’t always get off the ride. Getting off the ride is so hard. But sometimes I am able to remind myself that they are little and still new at life and sometimes I avoid getting on at all. Good luck, mama.
    Tricia recently posted..Small talksMy Profile

  18. says

    It’s so hard not to react! I lost my cool so badly last week when my son killed our fish. I felt horrible, but at the end of the day we’re all doing our best. :)

  19. says

    I read Happiness Project and LOVED it, by Gretchen. and WOW does that quote speak volumes: Angry feelings often just inflame more angry feelings rather than release them. SO true. I need to remember this the next time I Get irritated or bothered or annoyed or offended. I just get MAD when I should step back first. Sometimes it is hard to manage anger because I am naturally a fixer and a doer and when something happens that I can’t fix or change, it can cause anger. Great post friend!
    Jolene recently posted..A day of silver linings.My Profile

  20. says

    I struggle with this too, on a daily basis it seems. I handle a situation badly and I can feel that other part of my brain telling me to just stop, but the words keep pouring out of my mouth. Then within minutes I feel sad and remorseful that I let it happen and I apologize, but I know the damage is done. It happens the most with my older son – he and I are so much alike that he has all the tools necessary to push my buttons. Thanks for sharing. It feels better knowing I’m not the only one.
    MJ recently posted..On friendships.My Profile

  21. says

    I’m terrible about this Christine. Just terrible. I feel like I lose my shit more than normal lately. It’s a conscious (and very hard) decision to not lose my temper. It’s very hard for me.
    Adrienne recently posted..PearlsMy Profile


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