We have a kindergartner this year, and because she has been waiting her whole life to go to school, she tries really hard to keep her shit together during the day. This means that the moment she steps off the bus, she has many, many feelings to download — with me and anyone else within shouting distance.
I get it. She’s exhausted. She’s learning. She feels safe with me. She is keeping her shit together in public, which is even hard for some adults to do. I get it. But the volume of feelings being shared is large and frightening, and I am a flawed human being. After weeks of this, I began to feel a bit like a punching bag.
As the volume of shrieks goes up, or the wrestling between siblings escalates, or the arguing about dinner starts to alarm neighbors, we, as parents, try very hard to keep calm and not lose our minds.
We breathe. We meditate. We do all the things.
Inevitably, we fail. This is normal. This is human. This is how our children grow up and learn that, yes, if you push enough buttons, or whine at the right octave for long enough, you can make anyone snap.
For me, as I get more frustrated, I usually try to throw out a warning snap.
I warn my kids: If you keep doing that very annoying thing, I’m going to snap.
Often, they keep doing the annoying thing.
I feel it coming. I don’t want to snap. I want to be an evolved, enlightened human being who can deal with all of my emotions like a grown-up.
But ohmygod, they can be annoying.
So I try once more, with a bit more volume, a bit less chill.
They keep doing that shit.
This is when I snap. Like a broken rubber band. Like a dried-out branch. Like Diane Keaton.
Once I snap, it’s like a free-for-all. I see red. I’m a cloud of destruction. I really go for it.
Like really, really go for it.
And depending on the cycle of the moon, my sugar intake, the hormones that are coursing through my veins, and how long it’s been since I’ve snapped, I might even go all Fiona Gallagher on their asses.
BOOM. MOM HAS SNAPPED. WATCH OUT.
Children flee. They possibly call their grandparents to come and pick them up as soon as possible.
I pull myself together. Become calm again. They slink out of their rooms. We download what happened.
What the hell, children, indeed.
They make many promises. We’ll get along. We’ll pick up our stuff. We won’t make that annoying buzzing noise with our mouths anymore.
And they play together for about five minutes until it starts to look like this again.
So don’t worry about being that mom who sometimes loses her shit because you are definitely not alone. We all lose our shit because kids are little demon versions of ourselves without any impulse control. And that is what is really scary.