This is a guest post from Sarah Faulkner. She is a homeschooling mom in Washington state. She has five kids, ages 13, 11, 9, 5, and 2.
The goal of learning from being a kid to an adult is defined by every parent. My husband Andy and I set our homeschooling goals. We created a list, and steps on how to achieve everything on this list. Unfortunately the list did not include how to handle busy days. Nor did it include yelling at my kids. Being insanely angry at my kids was never on the list either.
I seem to be having a life lately where I am completely slammed from dawn to dusk. When I have several days like this, they all seem to coalesce into one big long day, until a day of utterly collapsing occurs. Unfortunately it affects my temperament, emotions, and reactions. The irritations seem to grow continuously, until I explode. Which was exactly what happened last night.
The day before had been what I was hoping to be a slow down day. We had to drive 4 hours to court (for a child in our care). Normally this is a source of high stress, but since I already knew what the session would entail, I was not worried. It would not be life altering for me or the kiddo, so it took a bottom rung on the stress meter. We arrived an hour and half early, I have done this too many times to ever trust the system to care about time. Court started 2 hours early and we caught the tail end.
That night I barely made it to putting the kids to bed. All my frustrations over the past 3 weeks had seeped into my soul and I was an angry walking nightmare. Andy took one look at me and didn’t speak to me for the rest of the night. I love a thoughtful man. Zach had made a fort in the living room, with a request to camp out in it. Fine–whatever–just go to bed. I was asleep when I felt the thumping under my bed. The scratching on the mattress slowly brought me back to a consciousness that was still cranky.
I flew under the bed and yelled, “What the hell are you doing!?” I knew what was happening before I even moved, Zach had crawled under my bed. Why not just tell his Dad (who was up reading) he was scared? Hell if I know. He scurried out and ran into the dark living room. This tells you how scary I was: he would rather be in the dark scary living room than near me. Andy put his book down and got up to tend to Zach, still not speaking to me. I love that guy. I crawled back into bed and fumed myself to sleep.
These moments of bad parenting, I am very thankful for them. They are what ensure my children grow up to not go to jail. If you feel like a failure when loosing your cool with your kids, don’t worry. Most likely you are being a good parent. Last night, Zach learned how to be angry. He learned that when you are extremely angry you don’t hit anyone, follow them and yell, swear horribly, or fall to the floor kicking and screaming. He learned how to catch yourself losing your cool and how you keep it to yourself. I can’t teach him how to control his anger, and he might need to self-soothe using different methods than me. That’s ok, what’s important is not that he learns how to calm down, but rather how to be during anger.
There are so many things to learn outside of education that are just as important as learning the basic subjects. It’s easier to accidently model these lessons when your kids are at home all day with you. The next time you lose your cool with your kids, pat yourself on the back; you are teaching them life skills. At least, this is what my therapist told me.