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Growing Together or Anger Management

There are times in my life when I really do have to dig very deep to remember that I am in fact an adult,  I’m an adult and I don’t stamp my feet, I don’t shout and scream, I don’t throw wobblers, I don’t slam doors and I don’t speak to people I love in a tone and manner that is likely to make them cry.

I dig deep and I remember this because I have the ability to do this, I am after all a grown up. I have had a lifetime to learn how to handle difficult situations.

But every now and then that self control, those years of ingrained teaching about how to behave are lost to me, completely and utterly gone, I am vaguely aware of what I should be doing and saying, but the speed with which my emotions are hurtling out of my mouth in shouty sentences that make little sense to anyone knock any rational thought to the wayside.

And for a moment whilst I’m in the full grip of this emotion I feel almost high, it’s a release of sorts, of the anxiety and frustrations that have brought it on.  But after that split second I sink into a deep well of self loathing. Because I have done exactly what I’m trying to teach my daughter not to do.  Yet again I have failed. Parenting 101. Don’t shout at your kids. In particular don’t shout at your kids if you don’t want them to shout at you.

I’m lucky to have a very good friend who has two children, both girls, and she assures me that all of this is normal. It’s normal for a five year old to behave like a surly teenager, to be so angry you think she might burst and it’s normal for it to pass. It’s yet another phase. (Which means I have it to look forward to again in approximately 18 months when Tilly reaches this ‘phase’). But she also told me it’s normal to occasionally dig not quite deep enough and respond in a way you just know instinctively is not right, not helpful and not productive. And that happens because we are human beings, we are not automatons who can recite Supernanny and any other parenting expert you care to mention.

I’ve had this week off, which has been, mostly, lovely. I’ve had a rotten cold for most of it and that’s made everything seem a bit more like walking through treacle but it’s been wonderful to be here for the girls, to take them to school and nursery, to chat to the other mums, to have some time to just be a mum.  I’ve spent lots of time with Tilly while Eliza’s been at school which has been very special, as the second child she missed out on a lot of one to one time with me (arguably a good thing I hear you say).  By some weird twist of fate my blackberry gave up on me on Wednesday which means my work anxieties have receded.  And as ever when this happens, I become a better mum.   By that I mean I become calmer, more able to communicate with my children, pick my battles more smartly, and just enjoy their company.  It’s something that takes consistency, which is why I take time off like this every now and then. I need to entrench again, push myself back to the heart of my family. It’s important for me.

But even against that backdrop there are times when the sheer stunning anger that comes out of my daughter’s mouth knocks me for six, and I’m ashamed to say there are times when I shout back.  I guess this is part of growing up. For both of us. She’s dealing with her own emotions, new things happening like going to school, and I’m growing up as her mother. I’m no longer a mum to toddlers, I have two little girls and they need different things.

We are growing together.

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