Today was a good day. A real good day.
Because for me, a good day means all housework is done on time, I get time to relax for a few hours, I don’t yell at my kids, they don’t get on my nerves and basically, everything goes the way they’re supposed to.
But a real good day means my kids still do get on my nerves but I don’t yell at them for being kids.
It was really something that Mohen said to me the other day.
We were just hanging out in the kitchen, having our ritual coffee before bed. Well, coffee for him and apple juice for me since I don’t take coffee while I’m carrying. And so we were telling each other how each of our day went. Mohen would ask how were the kids and what did they do on that day. Usually I see this as my daily domestic report to keep him in touch with the family despite being away from home a lot because of his work.
But somehow our conversation last night struck a different chord in me.
I have no idea what triggered it but I guess it was just an epiphany, for a lack of a better word. This morning I woke up and the first thing that came to my mind was the conversation I had with Mohen about how our kids were doing the day before.
I started thinking about what they did the whole day – playing with each other, a little screaming to win over their favorite toy, spilled water on the floor, cookies crumbs on the book pages, few episodes of crying, strewn toys all over the place, snacking between meals; basically nothing they have never done before.
Then I started thinking about how I reacted to these.
I lost my temper when Eros had cookie crumbs all over the book that he was reading despite me giving him a plate to catch the crumbs with. I yelled when the water spilled all over the floor because he placed his cup too close to the edge of the table, I scolded Eros and Sophia for screaming at each other because they were fighting over a toy.
At the back of my head, I know that the way I reacted was really base on the reason to have everything in perfect order.
I don’t want cookie crumbs all over my son’s book because I am an anal bibliophile. He’s 3. He doesn’t even know what a bibliophile is. It’s great enough that he’s interested to read at all.
I yelled when the water spilled because I just mopped the floor and I hate having to do it again. He didn’t do it on purpose. He’s 3 and was eager to get back to the cartoon he was watching.
I scolded my kids for fighting over a toy because it was too noisy and I was trying to read. He’s 3 and she’s 10months old.
All of a sudden I felt really, really foolish. No, wait. I was being too nice to myself – I felt stupid, really.
I can’t believe that I allowed myself to be dragged into behaving childishly over things that are out of a toddler’s control.
I mean, how much can Eros really behave as a mature adult when he’s barely 4 and how quiet can Sophia be when she’s 10months old and learning to talk? Everything they do is because they are growing up. Not because they are bad kids or they are trying to get on my nerves.
Okay, I know toddlers are at that stage where they will try to push you just to see how worse can certain things get just to satisfy their burning curiosity. But as a parent, I should’ve realized that my son is only 3 years old.
I can’t stress enough how foolish it feels to know a 3 year old get to beat you.
So today I decided to do things differently. Before my kids woke up, I told myself these few things:
1. No matter what they do, it’s because they are kids. Not because they are trying to pick a fight with me.
2. If anything goes wrong, it’s not because they are wrong. It’s because it didn’t happen the way I want them to.
Eros had some M&Ms while he watched cartoon. I always put his snacks in a small cup so he doesn’t finish everything in one day. When he wanted to return the cup to the kitchen, he placed it on the kitchen counter but it missed and the remaining candies scattered everywhere.
He shot me a worried look because I will usually yell at him.
Instead, I shook my head and told him to be more careful the next time. Eros almost didn’t believe it was me for he stopped to look at me for a few seconds. He said “Okay!,” cheerfully and went back to the living room.
Me? All I had to do was pick up the candies and give the floor a quick wipe. No yelling, no stress – nothing.
Later in the evening Eros and Sophia was getting bored and started fighting over toys. I was reading on the couch and it was starting to get on my nerves. I tried to stay calm for as long as I could just to see how much I can take.
When I feel like yelling, I called their names firmly and asked what was going on even though I know I won’t get a straight answer, what more from a baby. But that was enough to get their attention so I told them that there are plenty of toys to go around and that they should share.
Eros grumbled a little but he let Sophia played with his toy truck while he picked up another action figure. After a few seconds, Sophia lost interest in the toy truck and went to play with the bricks, Eros took the truck and started playing on his own.
No screaming, no crying, no yelling – nothing.
Me? I went back to reading and managed to finish 4 chapters before it was time for their evening bath.
During dinner, Eros was drinking and talking at the same time so his drink spilled onto his pajamas. Of course on any other day, I would scream at him because I don’t want to change him again and it would be a waste to put a fresh pajama in the laundry hamper.
Today, I laughed because it was really funny watching him trying to talk with a mouthful of water. He laughed too and wanted to do it again because he thought I approved of what he did. I didn’t yell, if that was what you thought I did. Although I did laugh the first time, the second time he tried to do it, I told him firmly that it wasn’t a funny thing to do and I don’t want him to wet his pajama.
No screaming, no spoiled dinnertime – nothing.
Me? I went back to listening to Eros talking and we finished our dinner in peace.
By changing the way I reacted to what my kids are doing, I managed to stay stress free and my kids seem to be happier too.
Eros is really cooperative and helpful with the simple house chores today. Sure he has a few episodes of retaliation but I thought I handled them pretty well. He listens to my instructions more willingly when I’m not the “Yelling Mom“ and I do get more things done today than I did the whole week. Sophia is well, 10 months old so I can’t say much about her.
By the time my kids are in bed for the day, I actually feel better about myself and truly feel happy about being a mother.
I mean, I’ve always love being a mother but today, it make me realize that I can actually really do this without being as stressed out as so many people said mothers with toddlers are.
I’m really glad that I realized this now and not when my kids are teenagers and they’ve known me as the Yelling Mom all their childhood. I know now how to handle my own anger and not lash it out on my kids just because they are being kids and not doing things the way I want.
I will try to practice this everyday from now on and hope it will too soon become a second nature to me. Just like when I first adapted to being an SAHM after I quit work. I know it takes time but I believe in my own capability to know that it’ll be something that I can do.
And just in case you’re still wondering, SAHM actually stands for “stay at home mother” but yes, sanity and humor are mandatory in being one.