I am a patient mother. But I am also human. I am a gentle mother. But that is tested sometimes. I have my hot buttons. One of which, when pushed, is my greatest test. I am an imperfect mother. It doesn't get pushed very often but when it does, my anger comes fast and furious. My gentle parenting strategies become foggy. I see red. So it is my job then to have a plan for that button getting pushed. As the adult here, that's my job. The button is different for everyone. For me? It's biting.
We were in the shit. From dawn to dusk. I started considering an afternoon beer around 9 am. It was as though all three of us woke with an impossible itch to scratch. I had plans. They had plans. These plans were in direct defiance of the other. I was doing ok managing the chaos. Pulling out my bag of tricks and trying to change up the routine to make our day exciting enough to calm the raging waters. They have cabin fever, I know it. My fear of Plum contracting the Flu has been playing into the plans we make. So I employed just about every tried and true technique I had to make them happy. But nothing was working. Pants was on fire and spraying it everywhere. Plum was out of sorts because Pants was out of sorts and he is her spirit guide. Mama (That's me!) started completely falling apart sometime around 3 pm after hours of constant conflict, destruction, hitting, crying and drama. I reached back into my patience reserves for any little bit of something, anything, to propel me through this day to bedtime. But they were empty. I am a patient mother.
And then it happened.
I felt myself flinch. I was at a breaking point. My button wasn't just pushed, my Achilles heel was slashed. He bit her. AGAIN. For the third time. Her tears immediate and plentiful. Her face, destroyed. Pain. He laughed at her tears. And I flinched. My hand rising up without a thought. My brain hadn't a clue what my hand was about to do. But it wasn't going to be good. My arm was angry and wanted to exact revenge on behalf of my crying Plum. I wanted to spank his bare butt. But in a moment of clarity, I looked through my eyes and saw his face. A sadness washed over me.
This is not you. You are not this. Don't make THIS one of his memories. Put your hands in your pocket.
My arm came down to my side as tears came to my eyes. That was close. And I employed the plan. Walk away (I took Plum with me). Breathe. Re-think. Start again. Mama needed a time-out. We all did. Once I brought myself back to a good place, I employed step two.
Step two is designed to keep us from returning to that ugly and volatile place. Basically, step two is a resolve. A surrender to the needs of the whole family. Leaving my plan for another time and forming a new plan. On Wednesday, for me, it looked like this...
You wanted to get the dishes done but today they need to just sit there and wait. You wanted to get the laundry folded, but its ok that it won't happen. You didn't get a shower. Oh well, you stink. You wanted to write a blog post because you had ideas swirling in your head that you have long forgotten inside of this crazy day. Don't worry about that. So because you didn't get the dishes done and now can't fathom trying to make dinner around the mess, order a pizza, heat up some broccoli, dump some applesauce into some bowls and call it a day. Now is the time to give 100% of you to being present with the kids. Everything else will wait. They will not. Be with them. Go all in. Not just because they need you. But because you need them, too. Erase it. Start again. Let go.
And that's what we did. One minute at a time until things began looking up.
So we went about repairing our bad, bad, awful and straight-up miserable day. And what better way to do that than with one-on-one attention, snuggles, eye-contact, sitting on the floor and playing for real, junk food, pizza and a dance party?
Well don't you know? That's the Pants Family recipe for turning that frown upside-down. Oh and Daddy coming home early from work. That helps too.
How do you turn a bad day around?