Here is another one of those eye openers I referred to in my previous post.
Most recently I have been having an increasingly difficult time with my kids’ bed time routine. My son takes forever to go to bed and the last few times I put him to sleep up until the point mentioned in this post I actually raised my voice and threatened of different types of punishment if he were not to stop fussing/tossing/talking or whatever else he does to stall and prolong the process. And I hated myself every time afterwards.
The time I want to mention here was a new low. And it wasn’t even night time, it was nap time. He was really tired and he really needed to nap. Or more like I needed him to nap so that he is well rested and we don’t spend the rest of the day with a grumpy child. We started fine and the pattern followed. This time I hit a new low. I got really upset with his tossing and the subject this time was that the cover wasn’t adjusted properly. I got so angry I snatched the cover while yelling “stop this” and as I placed the cover after snatching it, it hit his face. I had no intention of hitting him, and this is the first time I ever did such thing. Even though the intention wasn’t to hit and the cover hitting his face was accidental and wasn’t too painful, it was a shock to him. And more importantly a shock to me. What happened to me?
Let’s take a few steps back. As a young man, I thought parents around me sucked big time. I arrogantly wanted to have children to show the world how it is done. I knew I was going to be the “perfect” parent. As if such thing existed. I did eventually realize that I am not a perfect parent and that parenting is harder than what I thought it would be. That being said I still pride myself on how I kept my cool. I was always calm and thoughtful about my parenting decisions in the most stressful situations. I could face hours and hours of grumpiness and constant crying but still stay “Zen”. I was the parent described in the book “Scream Free Parenting”. I also made my wife feel terrible about herself as a mother for snapping at the kids. Questioning her ability to mother if she couldn’t keep it together. That was the case before recovery. And so that you know, my wife is on my step 4 resentment list for snapping at the kids.
Now back to the day mentioned earlier. I was feeling miserable the rest of the day. My wife asked me “what’s wrong?” I told her that I hit our son and shared what happened. She gave me a hug and said “I relate.” We chatted about it further and as we were discussing she asked me “could this have anything to do with your recovery? Cause I never saw you so angry!” It got me thinking. Then she added “as crazy as it sounds, it makes you more human. It always amazed me how you never snapped at them”
She was right, and I know the reason why I was so calm with the kids. I was under the influence. I was high on acting out. I had the “perfect” way to process such overwhelming emotions. Now that I am sober I am faced with the real beast within me. My character defects that need to be removed rather than be sexually medicated. I found myself tearing and saying sorry to my wife. When she asked what for, I replied “a whole lot of stuff”. this is not my amends making but this experience will contribute to my amends making process.
As for my son. I have been attempting things differently. I start bed time routine by explaining that I understand he doesn’t want to sleep. Or that he finds it difficult to sleep. I tell him about things that he found once frustrated and now he masters. I tell him that it is okay he finds falling asleep difficult and that he will need to learn to fall asleep. Whenever he fusses and provokes me to get the pattern started I remind him that “dad will not yell at you tonight” and that I will support him to help him fall asleep. It is been only a couple of days but I feel like my relationship with my son is going in a slightly more positive direction than the one it was headed towards prior to this realization.
A few things happened this week that were eye openers. I will dedicate one post to each of them. And here is a first.
24th December was the last working day in 2014 for me. We were invited for dinner as a family and we needed to bring a plate and my son was already on school holiday. I had originally planned to work from home that day to help my mom with the food preparation and with looking after my son while my wife is at work.
Two things changed the plan, one I woke up to find my mom not well and still in bed. Two I realized I needed to hand in some receipts at work so I needed to drive to the office. So I told my mom to remain at home and rest, I will drive my daughter to day care, and take my son to work with me. Just as I left the house my mom got up and started to prepare food. I did what I needed to do at work and spent most of the time being with my son. When he got bored we decided to head back home. I got home to find my mom didn’t sit still. Food was almost all ready and she didn’t rest. I went to put my son down for his nap and told her to go rest. I told her that I will take a short nap and go pick my daughter up from day care.
I had a nice short nap, woke up, and found the car is gone. My mom had taken it to go pick my daughter up. I WAS FUMING. How could she do that? despite me telling her to rest and that I will go to pick my daughter up. I could go on about how worried about my mom’s health and wellbeing etc. which is true, but the real reason I was upset is that she didn’t conform to my plan. My arm was twisted. I was not in control.
I had an outreach call with another SLAA Member and when I was done I was still fuming. My mom came back with my daughter and walked in to my room seconds after I finished my call. I told her that I was upset and I needed time alone to say my prayers then I will come and talk to her. She left, I closed the door and said my prayers quietly and meditated. When I finished. I went and talked to her. I explained that the reason I was upset is that I had a plan and things didn’t go according to my plan. I gave her a hug and we were good. And while I didn’t expect nor ask for an apology she apologised that her action triggered my upset.
The above situation resemble many others of similar nature and it always went terribly, with blame, accusations and mom and I really upset for days (or months) so the face that this took minutes was only a blessing of the recovery process.