(Irrational?) Anger

It starts out simple enough. You have some things to check off your chore-list and a wide, warm Saturday before you. You send your partner to the store with a list of things to pick up, and get started on the items on your to-do list. The kids are all occupied doing their own stuff around the house, and the first few things go off without a hitch.

Your partner texts you half a dozen times from the store, while you’re up on a ladder trying to reach something, because they cant find something on your list. After the 6th time your phone dings, you finally tell them never mind, just get what they can find, and you climb back up on your ladder. Deep breaths, reach, and done.

It’s the first nice weekend day this year, so your partner has their own list of outside chores, while you are tackling things inside. Your muscles are sore from the yard work you did the day before, but you stretch, and then drag the ladder upstairs to replace the second of three light fixtures. The first is installed and you’re happy with it, but your partner bought the wrong bulbs and has to head back to the store, so you don’t know if you wired it properly yet.

Removing the broken light fixture from the ceiling over the stairwell proves to be a bigger hassle than the first one—the ceiling box is old, and one of the screws is stripped out. When you try and remove it, the entire housing breaks off in your hands. You spend the next two hours trying to figure out how to either remove the box and replace it, or fix the missing housing with a patch.

Your partner is in the backyard shoving dog crap, so even though you’re frustrated with your electrical issues, you are grateful they are outside and not you. You pull up a YouTube video of different electricians fixing problems like yours.

Texting a friend who knows electrical, you find out they are out of town, so you move on to fixture number three. When you remove the old light—which had been loose for years—the entire box falls out of the ceiling. That explains why the old light was crooked. Your shoulders hurt from being overhead for hours now, and sweat is dripping in your eyes.

You may start to cry, because what should have taken 30 minutes has now taken you into late afternoon. You go downstairs to find a tool, and end up crying in the basement because the utility room is a mess and you spend the next hour filling trash bags with old stuff to donate or toss. It’s a relief from being up on the ladder upstairs in the heat.

Your partner comes inside and doesn’t realize he tracked dog poo in on his shoe.

You cry some more, and go find the Clorox wipes.

You can’t find the vacuum. Someone left it upstairs in your office, behind a curtain. It was probably you. The canister is full and it stinks like dog hair. When you pick it up, the handle breaks off in your hand, and you look at it, bemused, toss it on the ground, and vacuum anyway. Your partner takes the canister out to empty the dog hair, and someone lets the dog in. He’s hot, too, and leaves a giant puddle of dog slobber when you just cleaned. You might yell, and you might send him to the basement with the kids.

Your partner is outside spraying the north side of the house and roof for moss—because in Virginia, the summer humidity will literally cause your home and car to mold. (It’s so gross.) The kids take out the bags of crap from the basement, and one of them wipes up the dog mess while you finish vacuuming.

There still isn’t any light upstairs now, with the junction boxes both broken, and you cannot stomach another trip to the hardware store today. You might let that one go.

“What’s for dinner, mom?”

You’ve been trying for days to make a pecan pie, and you realize you’re missing an ingredient. You decided to run to McDonanlds because you’re too tired to cook, and you can stop at the market and grab the missing thing. At the light, you can see the McDonalds like is ridiculously long, but you turn in anyway. It’s a weird design; you must drive around the store and order from the far side, and then loop all the way back around to get your food. Once you are in line, several cars pull in behind you and suddenly the line is so long that the cars with their food cannot pull around to leave. It’s gridlock, and no one can move forward or backward, a complete circle of cars around the McDonalds. An employee comes out to help the cars nearest the exit back up and maneuver the other cars trying to leave around them. It’s a nightmare.

Then they got Bean’s order wrong. Twice.

You get home, and the bag with $23 worth of McDonalds rips, and your teenager comes on the porch, “What took so long, mom?” and you glower. The kids come to grab bags and help with the groceries you picked up before the McD fiasco, and you head inside.

Everyone else eats, but you forgot to get yourself anything in the stress and anger of sitting in a drive-thru for half an hour. Whatever, you grab a few fries and a Powerade. You’re finally ready to make the pie. You get everything out and start…

Your other teen comes on the kitchen, right behind you, and you bump into them and wrench your back. You grit your teeth and feel your head pounding, and you try and joke but your head cant decide if it’s going to cry or explode. The kid opens the fridge to get some milk and knocked a full can of wet dog food all over the freshly cleaned kitchen floor. You toss them the now-almost-empty Clorox wipes and try to breathe.

The kid smears dog food all around the floor and you discover the straw that broke the camel’s back is actually made of wet natural chicken dog food with organic carrots.

Things to south from there, and I yelled. Maybe a lot.

I hate when I lose my cool. I hate when I yell at my kids. I hate when irrational anger boils over and the breaking point is reached. It was a shitty day. A whole lot of stuff went wrong, and every direction was hassle and delay.  But every single thing was also a minor non-thing in the grand scheme of things. I feel bad, and I really wish I was better at remembering in the moment that I just need a moment to cool down and regain my perspective. I never stay mad long, but man, I hate it.

My kids will have no shortage of examples of parental apologies. I know the good days far outweigh the bad days, but still. There is a partially started pie on the kitchen counter, and I am taking a time-out in my room. I’m wondering if I dare to even give it a go again, or if I should just call it a day and try again tomorrow.

2 thoughts on “(Irrational?) Anger

  1. Mom-meltdowns happen, even to the best. 🙂 I’m glad it isn’t just me.
    Luckily, they are usually vastly outnumbered by times where super-human-mom-patience handles the situation.

    Just wanted to take a few sentences to rave about your book. I have read and re-read it over and over. I’m a single, divorced, LDS mom of 3 kids in my mid-thirties, finishing up my last year of grad school. Despite my grit and scrappiness, life feels heavy. Reading your book made the world seem bigger, less lonely, and more empathetic. I appreciate your willingness to write and reflect about painful memories. Your book is a treasure.

    • Thank you so much, Danielle. It sounds like we have a lot in common; it *is* heavy when you’re doing it. It’s hard. Some days feel like they will never end. But they do. I wish you a speedy and relatively painless final semester for your grad degree! I’m happy to know my words have helped you in some small way. Thank you.

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