Half an hour ago I had one of my least proud moments in my ongoing career as a mum.
I yelled at Abby. I yelled at her because she wouldn’t listen to me. I yelled at her, because she challenged what I said. I yelled at her because she did something very, very natural for a four-year-old child to do. I yelled at her because she yelled at me. I yelled at her because I lost it – and it was wrong of me to do so.
For some it might not seem like a big deal. I am aware that yelling is relatively normal in some households. For us it is not the path we wish to go down.
Instead we believe in guiding rather than disciplining and constantly correcting. We believe that children actually want to do the “right” thing, sometimes they just don’t understand what this “right” thing is. I do not believe in naughty children. They are simply just immature and need to learn how to behave in our society and we need to teach them. Teach them by doing – ‘doing’ is not yelling at them when they don’t listen. What does that teach them?
Often, in our case, the so-called bad behaviour comes down to one or more basic needs – such as sleep, hunger, over/under stimulation – which has not been fulfilled. In those circumstances our children simply aren’t capable of controlling their own behaviour in a matter that seems acceptable with adult eyes. Can you blame them? How are you acting when you are tired? Or hungry? – Or as we call it in our house, HANGRY!
In Abby’s case today it was a dangerous cocktail of the latter. She was up too early, she didn’t eat much breakfast, and she was bored and under stimulated at home with Billie and me.
But, was Abby actually being ridiculously unfair? Was she over the top annoying? Can I, by any means, justify that I yelled at her like a maniac in a traffic jam? The short answer is no.
The long answer is that it in reality had nothing to do with Abby. She has been waaaaaaay more intense and challenging in the past and there was nothing extreme about her behaviour today.
Nope, it all came down to my own state of mind.
My mental energy level has been relatively low recently, that combined with and partly caused by Josh working nightshift the last five nights has made my mind tired and fragile. From I woke up this morning I could feel that I didn’t have the surplus of mental resources that it takes for me to be on top of things around here. Even tiny things annoyed me and my patience was basically non existing. It didn’t get any better as the day dragged on.
Most days when I feel that way I am able to pick myself up. I eat some good, healthy food. I put some happy music on. I have a green smoothie. Then I have coffee. Lots of coffee. However, not even the coffee seemed to do the job today and all I was thinking about was when Josh would wake up so I could have a break.
My state of mind combined with Abby running low on several of her basic needs was a vicious cirkel where we kept forcing each other into a worse and worse position.
I basically just hated my life right there. So when Abby pushed my already threadbare buttons again and again, I snapped. I took all my frustrations out on her which I genuinely loathe doing. As we were yelling at each other – about something silly as a wheely bug – my guilty conscience already began to kick in. I knew what I was doing was everything converse of my ideal parenting style. To cut it off I grabbed the damn wheely bug and on the verge of crying I went into the bedroom. All I wanted to do was to throw myself on the bed and stay there for the rest of the day. Doors closed! Instead I woke Josh up and told him that I was loosing it. That I had just yelled at Abby and that I needed him now. Abby needed him. I think he immediately knew I was not fucking around. He went to her and I could hear them talking. Nicely and calmly she explained the situation to him. No screaming. No yelling.
After I had changed Billie’s pooey nappy – because shit always happens – I went to the lounge room to find Abby sitting on Josh’s lap. She looked at me with a bit of insecurity in her eyes.
I sat down next to them and instantly told her, that I was sorry for yelling at her and that it was wrong of me to do so. She looked at me with relief and we were good again. Just like that.
I believe it is important for parents to show their children that adults can make mistakes too – and they should also own it and say sorry. Today I was unfair to Abby. I did not help her when she was struggling, instead I tried to fight her and nothing good comes from that.
I am not proud of myself today, but I am proud of Abby and her level of empathy. She actually felt bad for me – for yelling at her. Little darling.
I didn’t learn anything new today, but I got reminded that I have to take care of myself in order to be able to be the parent that I wish to be, the parent that my children deserve. I tend to forget that.