Sunday, August 14, 2011



I want to talk about my personality a little bit. I am what most would call a "type A" personality. Along with that comes a lot of great things and some not so great things. When I became a mother I began noticing more and more of my personality as it played out in relation to my child(ren).

I had a childhood. WOW, can you believe it, pretty amazing huh? But it is hard to qualify that statement because it is so charged for me. There were some great parts of my childhood, and I treasure many times. But since becoming a mother I have found that I am way less forgiving of the other parts of my childhood than all my years of therapy had led me to believe.

I went through a lot of abuse as a child. A lot. My father damaged my being in so many ways. My mother did as well but the damage done by my father leaves the most bitter taste in my mouth. I went through that abuse until my mid 20's with my father and then just kept finding others to continue that abuse. When I couldn't find others to do it I made sure I abused myself.

At some point after coming out and finding myself and getting to know me more I left behind the need for all that abuse. That led me to know I was ready to become a mother which had always been my plan and dream.

After having Bliss I got the opportunity to re-parent myself in so many ways. So much healing has happened and so much more keeps happening when I stay open to it all.

Oprah says that "Forgiveness is letting go of the hope that the past can be changed." I think about that quote a lot. I don't think I am stuck thinking things could be changed but I do think they could have done so so so much better and that sometimes makes me wonder if I really have forgiven, or even if I want to. I am continually finding my weaknesses of learned behaviors from my parents maddening.

Let me first say clearly and with great pride I HAVE NEVER EVER LAYED A HAND ON EITHER OF MY CHILDREN. They have never been hit, spanked, belted, thrown, kicked, slapped, or whipped. They never will be by me or anyone else as long as I am their mama. Those were my daily childhood norms and they ALL stopped with me.

But when I lose my shit I yell. And I loathe that aspect of my personality. I want to be better. I want better for them. I do not want them to someday yell at their own children.

In our house we do not use bad words. "Stupid" is never allowed. Neither is "dumb" or "moron" or "jerk". The only name calling that goes on is "dorko morko" and "doofus schmoofus" and calling one another "Perry the platypus". Actually we DO have a habit of cursing one another. You will often hear "Curse you Perry the platypus!" yelled at one another.

But seriously, one cannot stay angry when saying that.

Try it, I dare you.

It works.

But back to the topic at hand. I am trying to get a handle on my yelling. And I know it all comes down to me finding my center. To me working on being. In the moment, finding my breath, finding my calm and knowing no matter what is going on the children are the lights and loves of my life and any trivial thing not going my way is meaningless and if I can just find that truth amid my internal chaos I can come at any situation with peace and calm.

SOOOOOOO much easier said than done.

My Buddhist practice helps me a lot with all this but I still have such a long way to go. With both things. My practice and my finding my inner peace in those situations.

I do not need to know how to center in the lotus position before my altar with incense flowing and calm music playing. I need to know how to breathe when my head feels like it is about to explode.

So I ask you, all 9 or so readers I have at the moment. How do you find calm amid chaos? When your buttons are being slammed (and isn't that always it anyways, it truly is never what my kids are doing or not doing, it is my own buttons getting hit and my reacting to that) and steam is coming out of your nose and ears.

How do you find the calm?

*I changed the font after a few requests, let me know if this is better.*


Anonymous said...

I take a drive. It tends to work very very well for me to drive my car fast and have air coming in through the windows with the music loud. For the past 10 days, whenever I've been stressed I snuggle into my daughter and take a few deep breaths of baby sweet and calm. I'm guessing I'll need to find some new methods when she's the cause of the stress:)

MrsSpock said...

I think you know my father is schizophrenic, and my 3 younger siblings have serious psych issues as well, especially my brother, who had extremely violent rages. I, too, am a Buddhist as well. When dealing with my family members sudden rages or dangerous behavior changes, or similar behaviors back when I worked community psych, my response is to look them in the eye and think, "What is, is." Whatever the event psych-wise, I have always approached it with the idea that they are the storm and I am the mountain. My patience has always outlasted their behaviors. Because I have had such extremes in my life experiences, ordinary annoyances do not in any way rattle me.

Now that I have children, it amazes me what I did at his age and younger: changing my own diapers, taking care of a baby, telling my father how to behave. It also gives me new respect for what my mother went through when she left him and took care of 5 small children by herself. In a way, having children has healed my relationship with her. I can see now that she truly took care of us as much as was humanly possible.

Malifacent said...

With twins and four older kids from DP's prev relationship the house gets chaotic often. I too am Type-A and lived alone for 20 years before me and DP connected. It was a lot of change really fast and I did become flexible however there would be days I simply couldn't breathe - still happens. Depending on what options are available I will Clearance shop at Target for an hour and sometimes buy nothing, go to the batting cages down the road from our neighborhood and feed that machine til my arms can no longer lift a bat, or do some landscaping in the yard - we have an acre of dirt - we've planted 30+ trees and I did all the trenching for the water system and there's always more to do - trimming trees, hedges, mow the lawn. Basically, give me "me" time. I catch myself yelling and it breaks my heart when I see on rare occasion when my little girl cries from fear - like "Kitty" and Boo when she catches him scaring the kid from Monsters Inc. It's very eye opening and makes me calm real quick and I apologize to them, give her a hug, and we go for a walk or check on the trees, etc. Your awareness puts you in a very powerful position - you will get angry for you are human. We just all need to recognize when we cross that line and address it. Sounds like you're doing a great job. Keep it up. *sorry for the book ;)

MSEH said...

Yes, the font is much better. Thanks so much!

As for calm, I have to just walk away and be alone. That said, I've never had that experience with my son, only adults. Have to dash - take care!

eeny meany said...

No advice to offer. My baby has yet to be born. I suffered physical abuse as a child as well, and I imagine that I'll go through similar issues--in fact, I'm already experiencing old grief and I'm only 17 weeks along.

I appreciate the thoughtful blog entry.

anofferingoflove said...

loved reading this post & the responses before me.

it is really hard in those moments to keep calm. i try to just remove myself (and the offending child) from the situation and do something completely different - go outside, go take a bath, etc. that generally diffuses the tension.

and, like one of the pp'ers, the clearance aisle at target helps with the broader stress level! ;)

J said...

I like to stop, take one deep breath and say to myself- "what is the root of what is going on here?" Breaking it down in my mind before I respond has helped me allow the other person to talk and process first before I respond to the chaos. I have to constantly watch my volume level- even when I'm not mad- so the breathing helps. That being said it works maybe 75% of the time. :)

West Philly Mama said...

This is my biggest struggle, too! So I don't have any answers. I do find, though, that when I remind myself that the only thing that matters in the grand scheme of things is taking care of this little person (vs. dishes, sorting socks, etc) then I can stop, focus on him, and usually that puts us both back on track.

Noreen said...

I also fall back on yelling when I am angry. It's usually when I'm feeling stressed about other things that I find myself getting easily worked up over some thing my kids have done. Whenever I feel like I've yelled at them and it was more a reflection of my issues that their behavior, i always apologize later. I think it's important for our kids to know that we are human and we make mistakes. And when I make a mistake, I want them to observe me owning up to it.

battynurse said...

I think for me when I get really upset or mad at something I try to just walk away from it. That said I know it's not always possible to walk away from kids. Dog and cat? Totally possible.
I loved the pics in the previous post and I like this font.

Rebeccah said...

This is a great post. I came from a house where everything (including my dad's mental illness) was swept under the rug and not discussed, until the frustration/situation became too much and then someone would yell. Not very healthy. I find myself yelling and am working on this. I actually find that my son's behavior gets worse if I yell, which is great incentive to find a better way of coping. Humor helps a lot, as does taking a conscious moment to breathe and remind myself that I'm the adult in the room and have the power to choose how to act. It's hard, but important work.