Yesterday afternoon I unleashed the Fiery Fury on Ruthie.
As I relayed the story to Bryan when he got home from work, we found ourselves laughing at the absurdity of the events – something I was not able to do in the heat of the moment. Not that my rage is funny, but that we have a cantankerous daughter who keeps us on our toes.
It started when I went upstairs to get Ruthie after her nap. I walked into her room and found her on top of her four-drawer dresser, unscrewing the light bulb to her lamp and unplugging the humidifier. Horrified, I scolded her for playing with things she knew were off limits (and that I thought she couldn’t reach), then took her downstairs.
At that point I was under control.
Once downstairs, I took her straight into the bathroom to go pee – a new tradition we started on this, the first week of potty training. As usual, she told me to ‘go away’ because she wanted to do it herself. Usually not a problem, so I went into the kitchen to thaw some hamburger. When I came back to check on her, she had unraveled almost an entire roll of toilet paper into the toilet. Frustrated, I scolded her for playing with the toilet paper and marched her into the living room for a Time Out in the chair.
At that point I was still under control, but a little on the edge.
When her two-minute Time Out was over, I came in from the kitchen to find her unscrewing the entire top part of my floor lamp from its base.
At that point, I boiled a little over the edge.
I grabbed her by the arm and dragged her into the kitchen where I was making dinner, yelling at her the whole time about God knows what, but I know it involved a few swear words. I dropped her not so gently into her booster seat, strapped her in, and faced her toward the wall, yelling at her that she needed a new Time Out and she obviously couldn’t be trusted to sit in the living room.
I turned around to the sink to catch my breath and calm down, knowing I had lost my temper (but Sweet Moses, wouldn’t YOU?), and I swear to Elmo that when I turned back around she was peeling paint off my kitchen walls.
And this is where I unleashed the Fiery Fury.
I never touched her this time, but I yelled and screamed about Why Can’t You Just Sit There For Once and spewed some more swear words for good measure. Her shoulders slumped and she sat still.
I, of course, felt terrible, but the tension of rage was still boiling in my chest. After a few minutes to calm down, I took Ruthie into the living room to snuggle. I told her it was wrong for Mommy to lose her temper, and that I was sorry for yelling at her and being mean to her. She gave me a kiss. I then told her that even though Mommy was wrong to be mean, Ruthie still disobeyed by getting up from the chair during her Time Out. She said, “I sorry,” and we kissed again.
We sat there for a few minutes, Ruthie sucking her thumb and playing with my ear, and I evaluated everything that had just happened.
Despite yesterday’s events, I still feel the same way I did when I wrote this post: energized, clear-headed, and determined. I don’t feel as if I built up a false sense of security, only to have it toppled by my failures – I never said my rage was gone, only that I was no longer feeling the depression.
On the contrary, I actually feel I am better able to work through the rage and not get muddled down by my hormones and irrational emotions, and I found myself analyzing my trigger points and looking for patterns in my behavior that are unhealthy.
I acknowledged to myself that I was doing too much multi-tasking, leaving Ruthie alone too much for her to NOT get into trouble. I acknowledged that, due to illnesses and 26 straight days of rain, we have all been stuck in the house for three weeks, sending my active and curious two-year-old up the walls. Literally.
The second thing I really can’t do anything about. It’s out of my control, and up until yesterday afternoon I had kept everyone busy with crafty things.
But the first thing, the fact that I take on too much and multitask through my day, I have complete control over. I wake up every morning with an agenda, and it usually involves housework, or projects, or personal time. Rarely do I schedule in time for Ruthie, but expect her to just tag along with my day and keep herself occupied. Then around lunchtime when she begins to get clingy for my attention, I become impatient with her neediness.
Poor thing. She just wants some of my time, and I often don’t think of that until it’s too late.
Recently I’ve taught her the phrase, “Mommy, I need you,” when she feels lonely for me, and this has worked really well. As she catches on to this, she does less whining and clinging and “Up! Up! Up!” and will just come to me and say, “I need you.” I try my best to acknowledge her need by giving her a hug, or picking her up for a minute, or if time allows, we snuggle. Just as I am learning how divert my rage and manage my day between tasks and relationships, I am trying to teach Ruthie how to communicate her needs effectively and age-appropriately.
At any rate, this is exactly why I had decided to join a recovery group for my anger management. I knew that one day my post partum depression would end, but that my anger would still remain. I am thankful for the program, for its reminder that God can and does heal and deliver us from ourselves, and for the friendships and accountability it has brought to my life.
It has, and continues to change me.