I am determined to find a new way to deal with my angry outbursts. The books I’ve been reading suggest that I look my anger in the face, embrace it, listen to it. When I read Thomas Moore’s suggestion in “Writing in the Sand” that to be self-possessed (to act in loving, healthy ways) is to be open to life, not to resist what is happening but to surrender and harmonize, to move forward with open heart and surrendered will, I realized how tight my grip is in those moments that I explode in rage.
The other day, to name just one example, I was trying to cook something and my three year old had been sitting on a chair at the kitchen table when he had an accident, for which I kept my cool. I stopped my cooking chore, got him out of the puddle on the chair and began to clean him up.
As I’m doing this, my 16 month old is climbing on my desk chair and banging on my computer, reaching for scissors, scribbling on important papers. I keep stopping my cleaning task to get her off the chair, telling her “no,” trying to clean up my son and get him some clean clothes so isn’t standing there in the middle of the room cold and naked. I leave the room and run to get him some clothes. When I get back, she has climbed up on the kitchen chair and is standing in the puddle of urine, splashing happily.
Now, whatever I should have done or not done, whatever the ideal course of action was, my internal reality was that I had a death grip on the situation and the more it slipped away from me, the tighter I clung to it.
I think this desperation for control stems from my belief that if I don’t have complete control, then I’m not doing a good job. Taking responsibility and being a good Mama is equal to never losing that death grip on people and events. Intellectually I know this is wrong, but in everyday life, that is my process. I need to replace it with something healthier. I cannot simply eliminate bad habits without cultivating new habits in their places, because life does not operate in a vacuum.
The worst part is that I see my kids act out in anger, and although I understand that almost everyone is going to display immature reactions at a young age, I can’t help but think that they might have learned some other ways to deal with things if I’d healed my anger sooner. I have a responsibility to learn how to let go, to face things bravely and calmly and to know that the best I can do is to stay open to solutions and channel love and grace as I do what needs to be done.