I am just having a cruddy day. Actually, the past few weeks have come with some minor psychic zingers. I’ve managed to hold it together pretty well — for the most part anyway — It’s possible that I might have started crying upon learning that the hotel for the homeschool conference lost our reservation. Poor front desk lady — she never saw it coming. In reality, it is nothing that I can’t handle and, in a world where earthquakes and invasions have become pretty common, my struggles seem like a day at the beach.
Still, I could have used an ACTUAL day at the beach today. I am sure my kids would have gladly given me the day off had they known what my mood would be. I was, shall we say, snippy.
I am not a fan of snippy. I’ve been on the other side of snippy enough not to appreciate it. But, at some point in parenting — at various points in parenting — we are all going to get snippy.
There was a time when a day of parental snip would send me reeling into several days — or weeks even — of guilt and self-flaggellation. But I have this mom friend, you see — I’ll call her Jenny and change a few details of her story just in case she is famous — and she grew up in a house that also saw its fair share of snippy days. Jenny, though, is remarkably even keel. She is rarely ruffled emotionally — in a good way — not in a Stepford Mom sort of way. She honestly just takes everything in stride.
I have spent many a conversation trying to dissect Jenny’s psyche — how does a person who grew up surrounded by a great deal of effusive emoting turn out so even keel — without the use of hallucinogenic drugs (to my knowledge, at least)?
Apparently, when her mom lost control, she apologized. That’s it. Well, that’s not completely it. She apologized and explained that she herself had grown up in a household with pretty explosive parents; she had not learned how to express her emotions in a healthy manner; she was trying; she’d keep trying.
Because Jenny saw her mom struggling to find a way to improve upon the parenting she’d received, and because Jenny’s mom let her in on that struggle without forcing Jenny to play the parent, Jenny was able to empathize with her mom — and in so doing, forgive her. She was also able to use that empathy she felt for her mother to exclude exhaustive emoting from her own personality.
Now my snippiness today never got anywhere near the explosive stage. But it still left me — and my kids — feeling low. So, I let them in, explained what I was feeling and why, and apologized for taking it out on them. I’d love to say that we ended the conversation with a group hug and a few rounds of “kum-bay-ya”. Nope. We didn’t. My youngest was over-tired from several late nights during the weekend and she had her own emotions to share (her’s were pretty explosive, as it often goes with 6/7 year olds). Still, I feel at least a little relieved that I did not just leave them hanging, or worse, wondering what they might have done to cause my rant. And we ended the day with exchanges of “I love you’s” and a few life lessons under our belt.
Sometimes, in parenting, that is the best we can do.