I was grumpy at the start of my 8-mile run with Nikki on Saturday. We were starting later because I let her sleep in and that met the sudden onset of Spring yielded hot running weather which my body was NOT ready for. Neither was hers as she immediately started getting side-stitches. I did not react supportively at all and at one point started some sort of tirade where I said something lovely like, “I can’t deal with your complaining for another 7 miles. If you can’t get your shit together, take a left at this road and go home and I’ll finish alone.”
(I’ll pause while you all gather yourselves after soaking in my horribleness.)
(Oh. And it gets worse.)
She was tearing up (OBVIOUSLY) and she said that she would go home and I got even madder and she angrily/sadly yelled back, “What do you WANT me to do?” And I said,
(Here we go…)
“I want you to just SUCK IT UP. It’s only 7 miles, we’re walking more than we’re running, just quit complaining and suck it up. Toughen up a bit it’s not that big of a deal!”
She then says – as she’s really upset, “I was in a GREAT headspace at the start of this run and then you started yelling at me for NO GOOD REASON.”
This is that moment I have a lot in parenting…That moment where you have a choice:
- Double down because they do NOT get to talk to you like that! You had a VERY GOOD REASON to yell at them and if you they do not see that then you SHOULD YELL A LOT MORE.
- Sit for a moment in the truth of what was just revealed. Sit with your own humanness (My friend said to me yesterday to call it HUMANNESS, not shame, which is what I was calling it) for a minute and realize that maybe you carried extra stuff into this fight that did not belong there and maybe your reaction and your response was actually not at all on track with what the situation warranted.
I usually go with the first choice, honestly. I double down a LOT when faced with my own…humanness. And it always gets a shit-ton uglier. I would have spent 7 miles basking in my anger and frustration and I would have sent a bunch of ugly text messages I’m sure and by the time we saw each other again the hurts would have been worse.
But not this time! This time I asked for a reprieve.
“You are right. I am sorry. Can we just walk for a minute in silence and let me reset? Can I get a do-over? I just need to shake off my funk. Let me just have some quiet to reset.”
She didn’t turn to go home and we walked a bit and I found mundane things in our environment to talk about to help pull me out of the, “OH MY GOD STOP WITH THE WHINING” rage I had started succumbing to. We agreed it was too hot to do the full 8 miles without a water refill so we decided to do 4, go home refill our water and grab our credit card, and then do 2 to the local coffee shop we love for iced tea and 2 miles back home drinking our tea. IT WAS ALL VERY WONDERFUL AND LOVELY.
Now, I’m telling you this because IT IS NOT THE NORM. I am not good about asking for a reprieve. This time I think my fault was SO OBVIOUS that it was easier not to double-down. Sometimes only 10% of my reaction is uncalled for, this time like 95% of it was uncalled for so this time it was easier for me to see my own humanness in the situation. I don’t want you to think I’m this good all the time, only in these extreme situations where it is so obvious that I’m bringing outside feelings using them to fuel anger towards a child who had nothing to do with the origin of those feelings.
Sometimes it’s not so obvious that’s what I’m doing so the “DOUBLE DOWN!” method comes easier.
I just wanted to share this moment of parenting truth because as ashamed as I was for the ugly in the beginning, I’m equally proud of my reset and maybe I’m bragging about that so I can forgive myself for the initial ugliness I spewed on my daughter.