Handling the emotions that come with parenting – the bangs, pops, whizzes and sparkles!
Standing in a crowded playground last week watching the array of fireworks lighting up the sky, with our Twinkles clinging on to me, it seemed the event was a perfect analogy of the emotions that go hand in hand with parenting.
To clarify, our girls weren’t clinging on to me because of the fireworks, they were clinging on to me because of the shyness that currently overcomes them when we’re around people they don’t know. A shyness that seems only comforted by the close presence of me, Mummy, even when Daddy is right next to us, eager to hold a hand, embrace a small body or support a tiny bottom on top of his shoulders. No, only Mummy will do (but we’ve already discussed that one before – see It’s always about Mum). And that, there, is one such whizzy frustration example that this article is about.
I get frustrated. Often. Sometimes with our girls, sometimes at them and sometimes just silently in my head. When I’m in a happy place and can take stock, I can acknowledge the frustration never really comes from anything they do wrong, it comes from those things they do that to me [an adult, most of the time!] don’t make sense. I am learning that 3year olds don’t possess logic. Who knew?! It’s shocking isn’t it?! (as an aside if anyone knows when logic kicks into play in the human development timeline please do let me know so I can set an alert to remember to buy a bottle of celebration prosecco in readiness the day before!). So a lot of what they do is illogical and therefore frustrating to the person closest to them, trying to go about our day in the most sensible of ways.
Watching fireworks is just one such example of this. I understand our girls are going through a shy stage (n.b. if you’re new to the parenting lark: children are always going through a ‘stage’ of some sort. And it’s usually when you finally figure out the stage they’re going through and how to best handle it that they move on to a different one!). And I understand that they can become somewhat anxious around people they don’t know (and sometimes even those they do) and that this is of course heightened in a playground full of 300+ strangers. What I don’t understand is why I have to break my back to support the weight of two little people because they won’t divide their bodies between their two parents.
As a maths tutor, it’s simple maths – there are two of them and two of us. That’s one each. Nope. That’s two to me and bottles of water, surplus gloves and scarves to Daddy.
Now in these moments, I have a choice. I can be frustrated and I can let that begin to take over my mood and my mindset. The problem with that is the outcome will be one of missing out. I’ll miss out on the smiles and the amazement on the faces of our gorgeous girls because I’m too busy seething about the minor, temporary negatives in the situation. And they’ll miss out on a Mummy who loves to cuddle them and wants to be their everything at all times because I’ve been distracted by my own minuscule need. OR I can choose to let it go, to be the bigger person, the adult, the Mummy. To sacrifice myself for my kids. That’s what parenting is about. That’s what dealing with whizzy frustrations is about.
That’s also what dealing with the big bangs is about. The moments where our girls push us that one step too far. I’m no longer talking about the illogical frustrations, I’m talking about those times when they are actually just plain naughty. When they don’t do what they’re told and when they’re pushing every explosive button in me. It happens. And it brings out in me emotions and reactions that I never knew I had. And again, I have a choice. I can allow my reactions to, well, react. I can raise my voice to a level that even takes me by surprise, let alone the tiny people on the receiving end of it. OR I can act the adult and model to our girls what to do when somebody pushes us too far. I can take a minute to compose myself and calm down a little before I deal with the situation in hand.
That’s what I’m learning to do. It really is a big learning curve but the results of calmness in the storm are SO much better than what happens when you jump headfirst in to it. It’s a tactic MuMan and I have taken recently – we’ve replaced the frustrated, angry shouting with simple, instant repercussions. Stickers, rainbow drops and other incentives have all worked and it’s amazing how a big bang can lose it’s pop when you calmly start counting down the number of stars they’re losing every time they don’t do what they’re told. And the bonus of having twins is that you can usually simultaneously start counting up the number of stars the other one is earning because of all the good behaviour they’re displaying. More on that another time though!
If you constantly find yourself in a headstrong battle with your children then I can honestly recommend trying the calm tactic. It’s not easy. It’s very much a case of mind over matter. But it’s also a case of remembering to love fast and anger slow. I saw a quote on Pinterest recently that sums this up perfectly:
“When our little people are overwhelmed by big emotions it’s our job to share our calm, not join their chaos” (LR Knost).
Again, we have to sacrifice our own dismay to teach, care for and love our children.
If one of our girls starts a tantrum these days, I tell them to either calm down and talk to me about the problem or to go in to the next room and take the time and space to calm themselves down. And more often than not it works.
Why? Because it’s what Mummy does. Because it’s something I’ve started modelling to them when I feel like I’m about to lose it and because I’m honest with them about that.
A common phrase in this house at the moment: “It’s ok to feel sad/angry/[insert any emotion here], it’s not ok to be naughty.” So deal with the emotion behind the eruption and be amazed at the difference it makes! After all, kids are just people, like you and me. When you’re angry/sad/[insert any emotion here], wouldn’t you rather somebody took the time to understand where it’s coming from rather than just telling you you’re an idiot for how that emotions making you act?
And then there’s the sparkles. Those beautiful times that light up the sky with glittery sparkly fun. Those moments when your kids sit through an hour-long funeral without any fuss or disruption and you feel so proud you could burst. When your chest puffs out as you realise that, despite all the apologies you’ve had to make to your kids for
getting it wrong; despite the heart shattering guilt you’ve experienced in those moments you know you could and should have done it differently; despite all of that, somehow you did something right. Somehow you’re raising kids who are amazingly wonderful. Even then you have to put yourself aside. Even then you have to contain the overwhelming cocky emotions bursting inside. Because even then, it’s not about you. It’s still about them.
Parenting in a nutshell: It’s always about them! And rightly so.
What’s funny about all of this is that I am sooooo much better at doing it when MuMan’s around! I seem to be able to get a much better perspective on the situation when he’s with us and I don’t lose it half as much as I would when I’m flying solo. I also notice the good stuff a lot more when he’s with us. But why not get his view on it: head on over to MuMan’s article where you’ll find all of this in his words. Also this month, MuMotivate challenges us to deal with all that parenting offers by getting our heads ready in the good old fashioned endorphins way – simples! And MuMatriarch offers some handy tips to make Christmas a little less expensive. Finally, do you have a child of the teenage kind? Our very own MuMystery will help you understand why they might be stuck to their mobiles on Christmas days as she lays out the importance if Instagram in the teenage world.