I’ve learned long ago to ask myself the age old Oprah question, “what can I learn from what just happened?” particularly when I’ve reacted in a less positive light than I would have liked. The other evening Michael and I had a rough time. There was anger and misunderstanding on both sides, and lots of self-pity, mainly on mine. I was not Buddha Mom or anything close to it. I was “feeling sorry that I had to deal with yet another obstacle with her challenging kid Mom” and I resented the hell out of him. He had enough things that were hard for him, why add more? Why, ’cause my kid is a tween and into arguing about everything and taking everything personally. It’s also due to his anxiety. Everything I said sounded angry to him, he was either verbally aggressive or insulting, and I was tired still knowing there was another five hours to go until bedtime. Would I survive? I knew I would, but it was a hard night and I was not proud that I had yelled and ended up storming out of the room.
However, after asking myself what I could learn from this, I realized there was the gem. I had to learn to control MY anger as well as teach Michael to control his. You see, until recently I thought I had kicked anger to the curb five years ago. Well, I had for awhile, but now instead of turning my anger and frustration inward and burning out, it is going WAY outward at my kid. Like most women who’ve experienced depression and anxiety, I never want to go back to that dark hole again, so fear has made me act on the offensive not to internalize and deal with the feelings inside or outside. This is not good. I end up also yelling or slamming doors which is not a good way to handle anger. In the last few days, I have been reading up on various ways to handle anger in a positive way. Some I already do most of the time and know of them from Michael’s Educator. But it was great to have a refresher course all the same. So, for all those Exceptional Moms kicking themselves for yelling and losing their own self-control, here are some basic ways to reign yourselves in:
1) Breathe and count to 5: In the time it takes you to do this, you will think of a far better response to your child’s outburst.
2) Make sure to exercise: Exercise will give you lots of energy and recharge you so you can face more stress than someone who does not exercise.
3) Meditate for twenty minutes a day: This one I have always done, and it helps A LOT. At the very least, you can recognize when you become “crazy Mom” as I do and file it away for later as a NOT TO DO.
4) Practice gratitude: You do the practicing when NOT angry of course, so when self-pity threatens to come in during an angry moment, you can count the blessings you do have. We all have them and remember, it’s always darkest before dawn.
5) Rest and be gentle with yourself: I always lose my top the most when I am not sleeping enough or not having enough “me time”. Go to bed early, curl up with that book or movie, or indulge in a bubble bath or a coffee on a terrace. Your body and mind will thank you.
Exceptional Parents, do you feel guilty and like a failure when you blow your top at your Exceptional Child? Don’t. You are human and make mistakes. Your child may even surprise you and will probably forgive you before you forgive yourself. The other day Michael told me that I was a really good person. I found this particularly significant as we had had a fight that morning and though we had made up, I carried the guilt around all day. Our kids are wise. We need to trust that we are too, and that we will learn from our mistakes and not just survive, but thrive afterwards. We are parents. We are strong. Until next time.
Feeling stressed about special needs parenting? You are not alone. I have been there and lived these very words before realizing the gift of who my son is and what he has helped me realize. If you want to have more information about me and my journey, check out my website http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com and my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL PARENTING” at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/ebooks.