Today’s incredibly relatable guest post is by Lisa Lord, our new editor at The Attached Family. Enjoy!
It was midway into the week-long preschool break, a holiday for the kids but not for me. Late in the day I came across my 3-year-old whacking miniature wooden cakes off the kitchen table, chirping my favorite curse word with every smack.
I cringed. Where did he pick that one up? Probably it was when I found the modern art exhibit he’d drawn with markers on the living room wall, sofa, coffee table and carpet that afternoon. You know the kind of markers I mean, the “washable” kind that actually aren’t.
My two boys had been difficult all day. The 4-year-old tackled his little brother or snatched his toys every time I left the room. The little brother poured lakes of milk (or juice, water, you name it) on the coffee table as fast as I could clean them up. When he wasn’t pinned underneath his brother, that is. The general level of whining and crabbing was driving me nuts.
The problem? Me. I’d woken up irritable and intolerant, a mood that didn’t lift as the day wore on. By 6 pm, my husband’s arrival still an hour away, I thought I might crack up if one more person needed or destroyed one more thing. The worse I felt, the worse they acted.
This kind of day is a frustrating and embarrassing reminder of the eighth principle of attachment parenting—creating balance in personal and family life. This is a hard one for me, partly because I am the only one at home with the kids for twelve to thirteen hours a day with no family support close by.
On top of that, I got tangled up in the negative thoughts and judgments continuously churned out by my critical mind. Today it was a mind obsessed with the kids’ certain futures as juvenile delinquents. Along with the misery of the wasted day came worry about the lingering effects. What have the kids learned about emotional control from me today?
The antidote for a day like today? Treats, treats and more treats. I define a treat as anything that grounds me with pleasure in the present moment. We could have enjoyed lunch at the local café or made popcorn and put on a favorite movie. I could have taken them on a long bike ride with a planned stop for a cappuccino and snacks, invited a fellow mom for tea, called my sister to vent for a while, or even enjoyed a glass of wine while building block towers.
Unfortunately for all of us, I did none of these things. It was the cursing child that finally broke the spell. Yes, it was a sad commentary on my behavior. It was also hilarious. I quickly grabbed my notebook, which gave me the distance and distraction I needed to reframe the day. On the page, the marked up walls and milk puddles were silly anecdotes, moments I will reminisce about with laughter in years to come. My reactions were a serious reminder that I need to lighten up when I’m feeling bad and give myself a break from myself.
Somehow we all got through my bad day. After dinner, the 4-year-old cuddled with me through four readings of Superworm. The 3-year-old stood at the coffee table drawing me a picture, with his pants inexplicably around his ankles and his adorable behind on full display. My bad mood didn’t stand a chance.