This is Day 12 of my 30-day writing challenge, almost half way there. It amazes me sometimes how much simple things like a commitment to 30 days of XYZ can alter our lives for the better! 🙂
Today’s post was inspired by an incident sometime mid last week. Apart from been a WAHM (Work at Home Mom, or at the hotel, or on the move, wherever really), I get to write, articles for web content, academic papers, and lately, a good chunk of my time has been directed to getting this blog up and running. So, on this particular day that spurred this blog, I called a client to follow up on dues, late dues, like work-done-in-July late. Using my safaricom line, and realizing that his line was ‘busy’ almost every other day. I switched lines and when he picked, he didn’t immediately realize it was I (of course). So I introduced myself, and it was as though that was the cue for his verbal diarrhea.
Guy launched into a tirade of how my ‘small’ money was not worth bugging him about, how he wished I hadn’t got his number, how he had better things to think about… All along I am wondering to myself what’s going on with him exactly, so I pause and request him to stop shouting because sense does not get amplified that way anyway. Starting to feel agitated now, so I let him know I wouldn’t be a vending pit, and that he’d have to channel his negative energy elsewhere… you gotta pay up, gotta have integrity in the ‘small’ things. He was annoyed, from the way he blabbed incomprehensible words before hanging up.
For a second I felt weird, strange a little out of place. You will realize why. One of the biggest challenges I had during my Postpartum Depression (PPD) Journey, and even during healing, was the shouting and anger that characterized my dialogue on a daily basis. When I got frustrated/felt overwhelmed, I’d feel helpless, and this would launch my shouting antics, at my son, as young as he was. I’d shout at him, roughing him up for things that kids would normally do at his stage. Depression meant that these ‘normal’ stages and milestones were a little harder for me.
My shouting at a vulnerable harmless child was camouflage for a weary soul, an overwhelmed mom, a mom fighting depression but living a masked life. In retrospect, shouting was simply to cover up my powerlessness in parenting. Once I was neck up high in my shouting contests when my mom appeared and enquired what the matter was. I broke down because I knew I shouldn’t be shouting at my son, but just couldn’t stop. The question that drove the message home was when she asked, if a stranger came in and listened to the shouts, whether they’d be able to differentiate mom and child.
That subtle remark tore me apart, it was true. There was no difference between how I acted and how my son manifested the same. My capricious words, mom said, would damage him emotionally, and change who he was at heart. My shouting would slowly but surely transcend any efforts to raise a stable child. Proverbs 15: 1 comes to mind:
A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The wise one wrote that a gentle answer defuses anger, but a harsh word stirs up anger. How’d I expect to raise a calm son when all I did was rile up his anger with my words? This has been a slow (sometimes painful) lesson for me. Even when my lil man has made a mistake, I need not shout at him. It only raises his defences and squashes any hope for finding grace together. These 4 practical tips I came across somewhere along the journey have been of immense help.
- Acknowledging the situations that trigger overwhelming pressure, and in turn, the yelling
As a mom, I learnt to decode cues and behaviors that signaled my son was about to crumble, and I was going to get frustrated. Evenings and early mornings were the most common. Early mornings when he was still groggy made him easily ticked off. Late evenings when he was sleepy were also a perfect recipe. So, mentally, I’d set time to be with him so that he eased into the day/ into his sleeping patterns seamlessly. Other situations included when he was hungry (so I’d carry a snack or fruit), when I was tired (so I’d decompress before getting home to avoid venting at him), when he’d be required to sit still for long periods, say when travelling (so I’d make advance plans to schedule breaks).
- Counting to 10
When I felt that a shouting match was a few minutes away, and I needed to act, I’d count till ten, slowly. This was a perfect buffer that quelled anger and gave me time to weigh the situation before responding. I will admit this took some time to get used to… but was well-worth it. I don’t always remember to do this, but then again, I am not the shouting mom, claws out Khaleesi-style at the mall.
- Draw closer to my son and hug him.
Initially, this felt awkward because the closer I got to him, the higher the chances were that my hands would land on him diapered butt at a velocity. After inculcating the first two tips into my response plan however, I realized that it was harder to shout at him when he was clasped in my arms; it required more effort; And so I realized this worked as well. When he was angry/disappointed/flummoxed, hugging him brought this close bond, a sense of security, a platform to point out where he erred. In the end, mom and son are at peace.
- Seek grace.
Parenting is hard, there are hard days when shouting does not seem to ebb regardless of our best intentions. Days when anger seems to cast a theatrical angst so that through my eyes, and the world feels distinctively bleak. It is on these day that I seek grace, wisdom to raise this little human being in a world that is increasingly becoming depraved and entitled.
How do you handle anger as a parent? As an individual? What works for you in defusing this anger? Any tips you would like to share? Looking forward to hear from you J
Featured Image Photo Credits: Life Hacks