Parenting

Parenting: Making Sense Out of Chaos

Believe it or not, it’s not all cotton candy, singing unicorns or shimmering rainbows at my place. I purposefully don’t tell you the awkward/ugly moments because well, I don’t like to air my dirty laundry and the problems that we may have are really no one’s business but ours. Though you rarely hear about the bad stuff, trust me when I say, it happens.

Now before any of you get the idea that I have more angst than I can handle, let me explain something. My life is pretty great. I know you don’t want to hear that because it’s like reading a story with no conflict, how totally boring, right? But I’m being quite honest when I say, I have an amazing, hard-working husband who patiently allows me to stay home and pursue my interests (which, coincidentally may or may not make money) and two boys who are sweet, caring, smart and work really hard please us. My life, for about 98.9% of the time, is conflict free. We all peacefully coexist and as long as everyone does what I say, we’re all happy.

Heh.

BUT …

We are FAR from perfect. Especially me. If I were to be perfectly honest with you, and this post? It’s going to be brutally honest (in a reveal-not-too-much sort of way); I’m probably THE single, and biggest, problem in my family. I have a RED HOT, FIERY temper that gets the best of me. Hot lava spews from my mouth when my temper flares and I’m left grabbling with a guilty conscience for a long time afterwards – years even. In fact, when I’m “a mood”, I KNOW it’s happening. And I KNOW what I’m doing is irrational, asinine and totally over the top. And I even TELL MYSELF to shut up, to calm down, to step back and breathe because I’m going to do something I’m going to regret and …

I ignore that voice of reason and afterwards? Chock the experience up to yet another one of my incredibly stupid, lost-my-head, wife/parent moments.

I’m a good mother, I’m not a great mother. And if you know me, please don’t sit there and think, “Oh, what are you talking about. You’re a great mother.”

No people, I’m not. I’m very, very human; I’m incredibly short and impatient with people, perhaps more so with my family than with outsiders, and I make mistakes. Not all the time, I have a bit more self-control than that, but when the mistakes happen? THEY ARE WHOPPERS.

My family is WELL AWARE of my temper. In fact, it’s safe to say that my guys are pretty much experts at walking on eggshells by this time because though I’m a pretty reasonable person three weeks out of four, it’s that fourth week that’s the killer.

My hormones don’t rage – they have a freaking war. Again, there is a part of me that KNOWS this is happening. And that part is constantly trying to soothe me down and coax me away from the pit of hell, but it’s like one person speaking in a normal voice in a room full of shrieking babies – I just don’t hear it most of the time. And okay, since we’re being honest here, sometimes I ignore it. I succumb to my physical war and everything EVERY. THING. sets me off.

“I’m sorry, did you just give me a dirty look?” ROAR.

“You did NOT just say that to me.” ROAR.

“Don’t take that tone of voice with me, young man.” ROAR.

“Did you just SIGH at me??” ROAR.

Really, it’s that stupid. I know this, my family knows this and yet, I fall into that stupid trap nearly every month. And sometimes, I can’t even blame Moaning Myrtle, sometimes I’m just simply touchy.

And just think, I’m not even menopausal yet. (Well, actually I could be … but that’s a different post and a different set of problems).

I have my boys under my thumb. I control them. Wow, I’m not proud to say that. But it’s true. We’ve always had a pretty strict routine, one which the boys have followed, whether they liked it or not.

Now that my boys are teenagers, the control thing? Doesn’t fly with them, things have changed. Even though I’ve fought tooth-and-nail to keep our lives the same, I’m losing control. I don’t like it, and it drives me insane at times, but it’s a necessary part of life. I can’t control them anymore. I shouldn’t have to and quite honestly, I don’t want to. But gosh darn it, I don’t know HOW to let go of that control. When they were controlled, I could protect them from life’s unpleasant moments. I could shield them from being hurt, both physically and emotionally.

And now? There are too many things, too many factors, both physically and emotionally, and I can’t juggle them all. I’m losing issues, one-by-one, the balls I’ve been juggling all of these years? Are beginning to fall.

And I REALIZE this is how it should be. The rational part of my brain WANTS these kids to be independent, to make their own decisions, and yes, even make their own mistakes. But the MATERNAL instinct in me is having a really, REALLY, hard time coming to terms with this.

Sunday night, GD was playing Halo with his good pal and buddy. He was trying to walk him through a difficult storyboard and it was lasting forever. In fact, it lasted well past his bedtime. And I warned him, repeatedly, for 40 MINUTES that he needed to wrap it up, say goodbye, it was time to get off. We have rules, and the boys know these rules.

After 40 minutes and I couldn’t see any end in sight, I lost my temper. Now the situation had morphed into a question of control. GD was pushing his limits. He knew it, I knew it. I had warned him that if he didn’t get off the game in five minutes, I would unplug the router and he would lose his internet connection (which, btw, I unplug every night so the boy doesn’t sneak back onto his computer).

I unplugged the router and the boy lost his connection. He also completely lost his temper. GD is a pretty passive sort of personality so the fact that he got that mad, that quickly, threw me for a loop. He told me, in no uncertain terms, to go do something, something I won’t repeat here. I was shocked. He had never spoken to me like that before and I reacted. He in turn, hit me.

It wasn’t a punch but more of a slap. And I think it surprised him as much as it surprised me. Again, I was shocked and immediately lost my cool. Suffice it to say, things REALLY escalated from that point on (nothing physical, but a lot of shouting) and I had to walk away or I would kill the boy.

I stuck my feet into my flip-flops and I left. I drove to a church parking lot and listened to music for an hour to give myself time to cool off. Because I knew, that if I had stayed, given my temper, things would really get out of control.

The husband had slept through this whole thing. He had gone to bed because he needed to get up and go to work the next day. He had no idea any of this went down until the next morning.

I said some things that I really, truly, honestly regret. And GD? If you ever read this, please know this. I felt small, vulnerable, hurt, and fragile. I had lost control of the situation, of myself, and I wasn’t sure how to make it better. What now? This was a pretty serious thing. A child does NOT hit his mother. Though I understand his anger, his frustration and that what happened was in the heat of the moment and he was certainly goaded, the bottom line was, he disrespected me.

But didn’t I do the same thing to him?

The next morning, I sat down and talked to MK (he was up before GD). Unfortunately, MK witnessed the whole ugly scene because he was playing the game with this brother. In fact, he was caught between a rock and a hard place – he knew he needed to get off, but he knew that if he quit the game before it was over, his brother would be furious with him. We talked about how there would be times in his life that that happened, that he would have to make a decision, the one he knew was right in his heart, even if it meant upsetting someone. It was a life lesson he’s not likely to forget.

And then GD woke up. And we talked.

The conversation took an unexpected turn. I had expected to rant and rave and just be a total dick to my son, but actually, I ended up explaining why I am the way I am to him. I apologized for my behavior and asked him for help – I needed help letting him go. He also apologized for the way he acted and explained to me why he lashed out the way he did. There was a lot of crying, a lot of soul searching and I think (hope) we cleared the air on a lot of issues that had been building up over time.

And the time has come to let go of my son. Not completely, it’ll never be completely, but enough so that he can breathe. Enough so that he can start making his own decisions and simply live his life without fear of bumping into me at every turn. He’ll be a sophomore this year. He’s about to face a lot of grown up issues – issues that he insists he needs to make on his own. Issues I will try my absolute best to let him make on his own. He knows I’m there if he needs me, I’m his backup plan, his safety net (which is something I’ve always pounded into the boys’ heads – always have a plan B), but wow, this is going to be hard on me. I hope I have the strength to back off and allow whatever needs to happen, happen.

The hubs was not happy with the situation. In fact, I’m very grateful he had the strength to dole out the punishment because I simply felt too guilty to do it. But children can’t be allowed to act that way toward their parents without some repercussions. MK is grounded for a week (because he didn’t make the right decision – he continued playing when he knew he shouldn’t have been) and GD is grounded for two weeks for the way he treated me. Neither can get on the computer, or play video games.

This has been especially hard on GD because games are all the boy lives for. But as I explained to him, sometimes it’s necessary to stop and breathe, to step back and gain some real life perspective. And that includes anything that takes our complete attention away from reality (like blogging, for instance. And yes, I’ve been setting examples by shutting my monitor off, walking away and doing something else for a while).

I don’t know who learned more from our nasty Sunday night episode – GD or me.

5 thoughts on “Parenting: Making Sense Out of Chaos”

  1. My kids are way too young still for these things to be an issue, but I fully understand the hormonal shifts. My doc finally prescribed something for me to take so that we were all more comfortable during that fourth week of the month.

    Think of it this way, you’re showing your boys how to apologize and accept responsibility for your actions. You’re teaching them that you never get to the point where you don’t have to be accountable to someone.

  2. parenting can be both hard and rewarding, if only we can skip the hard part and just keep the rewarding parts coming! =)

    but you’re actually thinking about what will make you a good parent, as i would often do too…. i think that in itself is good parenting.

    God bless!

  3. I’m so sorry that you had to go through that. Bottom line is that he should have gotten off the game the first time you told him to. However, sometimes it takes a drastic situation to incite changes.

    I think that every parent loses their temper occasionally. I know I do. And my kids are still young! I give you credit for admitting to it and I still believe you’re a GREAT mother!

  4. Thanks for the feedback, Bill. I keep telling myself, “this too shall pass.” Part of me wants it to pass quickly, the other part? Wants them to stay young forever. Thanks again – it makes me feel SO MUCH better when I know I’m not the only out there that blows up at their kids sometimes.

    We do use Linksys and I will definitely bring that up to my husband. That would be GREAT! Then I wouldn’t have to be the bad guy all the time. I’m always the bad guy. 😦

  5. I can say that I have been that angry with my kids. I have a son and daughter. They are now in their 20’s (and you don’t stop worrying, either) and my wife and I pray that the rules we set, the examples we set, and the advice we gave when they were young influence them now. Sometimes we see the results, sometimes we ask them “Didn’t we tell you about that?”. Stay strong and remember – your kids still need you.

    By the way, if you have a Linksys router you can set it up so that at certain times of the day internet access is turned off to any or all computers that use it for access. A little easier than unplugging the router and if you let them know that all access ends at “whatever” time, it will and they will get used to it. My kids did.

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