I’ve been an angry shrew of a woman lately. Worse, I’ve been an angry shrew of a mother. I’ve been short, snippy, and quick to lash out in frustration at anyone walking near my path. It’s been affecting me, it’s been affecting my relationships, and it’s been affecting my daily interactions with the most important person in my life: Tiny Tot.
The happy, carefree, bantering mommy that Tiny Tot knows and loves hasn’t been around lately. She disappeared, and was replaced by someone not even I have been recognizing.
Stress has leeched into every aspect of my life, and what’s worse is I’ve allowed it to happen. I get stressed when aspects of my life feel greater than I can handle, and I know that about myself. Work has been overwhelming, the household responsibilities have been overwhelming, and my daily duties in mothering suffer accordingly.
Every day, having finished work, I grab Tiny Tot from preschool, and then remember I have to make dinner, find time to play with my little booger, complete bath time routines, and then get him ready for bed. Except I haven’t mastered the nightly routine, and bedtime happens later and later every night. Morning, however, still comes at oh-dark-thirty. I still have to dress a limp, snoring child and cart him to the car in order to get myself into work on time every morning.
I’ve felt like I’m behind at work, and I never seem to catch up. One of my jobs I accomplish easily, it’s been the other two that have suffered. So every night I make a plan of action to attack the areas of my job that have waned, and every day something happens to thwart my efforts. Yesterday I knew I had over 60 miles to drive, and around ten boxes to bring into various places and unpack. I timed everything out the night before, knew which hospitals I would get to first, and what to notate supply-wise at each hospital.
And then Tiny Tot decided to sleep in, snoring away until well after eleven. After dressing, feeding, and getting him to preschool, I finally started my day. Sure, I could have jerked him out of bed, but he really doesn’t like 5 AM wake ups, and he’s been suffering on that front. I adjusted my mental schedule and got on the road, and then I witnessed–and almost became part of–a horrific accident on the freeway. So, an hour later, after giving my testimony to the police and making sure the woman was okay, I finally got on my way.
Tiny and I arrived home that evening, and the first thing he wanted to do was play soccer. It took every amount of patience to agree to kicking a ball around when I needed to take care of the dog, make dinner, start the dishwasher, clean out the refrigerator, pick up the living room, and … and … and. As a mother, chores never end.
But oh, how I wish they would.
So I was feeling the effects of the day when Tiny Tot kicked the ball over the fence. I felt the mental breakdown as we walked to retrieve the ball, while Tiny complained the whole time that his legs hurt and he needed to be carried. I felt the stress when I realized the chicken I wanted to prepare for dinner had expired three days ago, and Tiny Tot took that as the moment to start demanding pizza like a starving man. I felt it bubble forth when I almost broke down and ordered pizza, but eventually stood firm and made him something else, instead.
I’ve felt the anger surface throughout the last few weeks, felt it bubble up from deep within, felt it desire to spew forth with every interaction. I tried reminding myself that stress has this effect on me, and that I need to breathe, pray, and take time to calm myself down if and when I felt a situation spiraling out of control due to my reaction to stress.
Last night, however, my breaking point was Tiny’s little, tiny foot kicking me, repeatedly. I don’t think he realized he was doing it, but I did. It was the last straw in my stress-filled life. It was a constant raising of the foot, with the fall landing directly on my thigh. Over, and over, and over. I tried nonverbal cues, deflecting his foot with my hand. Placing his foot away from my person. Physically moving his entire body away from me, and telling him to stay in his new spot. At some point I realized I had become vocal, and my voice had reached the surly, mean mommy level.
The tone of voice that makes tiny humans pout due to injured feelings.
It was then that I realized how snippy I had been with him over the course of the day. Not only that, but I had been snipping at him for days. I knew then that I needed to fix the situation. I needed to rectify my behavior, especially since I knew I was reacting–and overreacting–to everything. My stress needed to be tempered, because my actions were speaking volumes, especially to Tiny Tot. He was hurt that negativity was occurring in almost every interaction.
I was treating him like he bothered me, which is the furthest thing from the truth. So I did the only thing I could think of last night.
I told my tiny human that I loved him more than life, that I’ve been on edge lately, that I hurt his feelings, that I would try to have more patience, and that I was very sorry. He gave me a huge hug, told me it was okay, and asked if we could play soccer tomorrow.
I love how easy it is for children to forgive.
Today I awoke at oh-dark-thirty, but my mindset has taken a different approach. Sure, I still have stress. The house still has to be cleaned, and I still feel pressure from not having enough of me to go around at work, but I’m not going to let that leech into my life with Tiny. I’ve become cognizant of the situation, and his needs trump mine.
Luckily, his needs are simple: have a mommy who loves him.
That is the one thing I know can accomplish with ease.