I wrote this post a week ago. It was such a traumatizing moment, yet I completely forgot it happened by tonight. We’ve had a beautiful week with our now 4- and 3-year olds. They’re being responsive, hilarious, and generally fantastic. Reality check!
I got MAD today. Fiery, out-of-control anger just shot out of me in the form of the most raised voice I could have with no voice. Because I’m hoarse, I’m conscious of every time I have to repeat myself to the kids or to David. It’s irritating, as an ex-opera singer, to waste my already limited voice on people who are clearly not listening to me.
I didn’t lose it when Tess had a temper tantrum in the hall at swimming because the “T” on her swimming certificate was not in cursive. I didn’t lose it when Lilou and Remy were fighting over trains, or when she ran down an unfamiliar hallway in the school and I couldn’t find her for a minute. It wasn’t when Tess refused lunch because she suddenly found ranch dressing incredibly distasteful, or when Lilou threw her bowl on the floor when she was done. I didn’t even lose it when Tess followed us upstairs after I asked her to stay in the kitchen, after which I put her in her room and she threw a garbage can at the door until the paint job was completely destroyed – although I was beyond angry.
I lost it because all of those tiny things built up in me all morning, until David giving me shit about reorganizing one of the bedrooms made me completely blow my top. He kept insisting there was a better time. No good time exists to move furniture in a child’s room when you have four small children that all nap at the same time and go to bed at the same time at night. We rarely have this problem, as we’ve had almost everything we need in the house for so long. But we needed some extra storage in the boys room because they’re both growing so quickly and their clothes take up so much space. We needed 10 minutes or 15 minutes, 30 minutes at the outside. The kids were finishing lunch and had gone swimming, so we had one of those impossible to find windows if we moved fast. But we don’t move fast anymore. Kids are unpredictable under the best of circumstances, and ours are at an age where they can sense when we need to sneak off and cling to us. So I raged! Not because of any one thing, but because the right answer – the answer I find so hard to digest – is to recognize when the window is not going to work and put something off until later.
I’ve spent years curing myself of procrastination. My craving for pre-planning and organization, the tenets that keep our household functioning, cannot be assuaged by pushing things off until tomorrow because the kids won’t allow us to do it today. As I yelled at Dave with my raspy voice, I heard myself telling him how worried I was about leaving things out of place in the room around Remy, who tends to bump into things. My anger was frustration over the undone, but also planning around protecting a kid who’s growing so fast he can’t remember where his feet are.
Tess gets mad because she wants to be with us and be a grown-up and make decisions all the time. Our punishment choices work because she doesn’t like them, but we don’t like how she responds to them sometimes. The worst moments are when we’re all mad and we all don’t want to be mad. I can see in her face when she’s ready to get a hug and cry in relief of the anger having left her. I so easily understand how she feels!
Remy gets mad when his sisters infringe upon his birthday bliss. Of course the kids all want to touch the new toys! And of course he wants them all to himself.
Lilou gets mad when the big kids can do things she can’t, or go somewhere she can’t follow. It makes her wild when we don’t understand what she’s trying to communicate, or if she’s tired and still at the dinner table.
And Griffin gets mad at himself, because he can’t learn fast enough to do all of the things he sees around him. He’s just learn to crawl, but is livid he can’t get up the stairs.
And David? David gets mad when I get mad, not because his temper flares but because he feels like he missed something he could’ve done to keep our clockwork ticking. Sometimes the clock just stops. Sometimes we just get mad.
The cabinet is still sitting in the middle of the boys room floor. Tess’ door is totally damaged but she is no longer in the room. David took Tess to piano, because I couldn’t. Remy is playing with Lilou and Griffin while I make a plan for the boys’ room, so that David and I can fix it when he gets home.
The quiet after a blowout is such a stark contrast, and shames me a little. We have so few of these now that they really have a dramatic impact when they happen. One of the most beautiful parts of our marriage is how easily David and I come together to repair it. We both know that our relationship and this family are the most miraculous things either of us has ever experienced, and we will not give it up over a moment of searing fury. Still, in the still house around me I wonder if I’ll ever learn to completely release the frustration that comes from all of the moving pieces that makes this beautiful family go.