Nice Is Not My Default Mode

It has taken me a long time to accept this fact. I was raised in a crazy, dysfunctional household full of unstable yellers. I hate to think that I have that in me, but I do.

My first instinct when someone upsets me is to yell in their face or smack them across it. I certainly don’t do the latter, and I try my best not to yell. However, it takes everything in me to NOT act that way. It’s all I know. Even now, it’s all my family does. (Which is the #1 reason why I have distanced myself from them as much as possible.) When you are attempting to be a gentle parent, this isn’t exactly easy.

I used to blow up at everything and everyone. That doesn’t make one very well liked. I had an extremely hard time relating to the people around me because they didn’t seem to understand where I was coming from- probably because they didn’t live in a house where a parent screamed inches from your face for hours for simply existing. I knew that my house was crazy, but I didn’t realize that so much of it had seeped into me and how I interacted with others.

For a long time, this made me question whether or not I was a good person. I finally realized that I AM. Albeit a slightly damaged one. I care about my family, my friends. I go out of my way to help people whenever I can. I try to be generous with my time and abilities. I do my best to let the people I love know that I care about them and am there for them.

I have gotten so, so much better over the years. My fuse isn’t nearly as short, but it still isn’t as long as I’d like it to be. I am easily triggered, and am always on the defensive. I had to be growing up, and it just stays with you. There are so many times in the day when I want to scream, “JUST SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!!!” Of course I don’t. I take lots of deep breaths, or walk away, or scream into a pillow.

Spills happen and instead of yelling, I say things like, “Oh no! Why don’t we clean this up together!” as I smile through tightly clenched teeth. My son tests my patience, as all kids do, and I do my best to redirect, and stay positive. It doesn’t always work, but I can usually keep a pretty good handle on my emotions. On bad days, nothing actually gets done in our home, because it takes every ounce of energy I have to NOT be an asshole.

It hit me hard when about 2 months ago, Sawyer said to me: “Mommy, you yell too much.” He was right. I DID yell too much. Most of the time, over nothing. Yes, it shouldn’t take me asking him 20 times to put his shoes on, but he’s also FOUR YEARS OLD. I, as the adult, should have reasonable expectations of a 4 year old. He isn’t going to understand that I have somewhere to be, or what being late actually means. Right then and there, I promised Sawyer and myself that I would do my best to stop yelling. It hasn’t been easy. In fact, it’s been extremely stressful and exhausting. Yet, I’m so, so happy to be this exhausted. If I need to use every once of energy to be the mom he needs me to be, then I will. Yesterday I asked him if I still yell too much and he said, “No! You don’t yell at all! You’re so sweet!” Cue heart explosion.

Yes, I yell sometimes. And I beat myself up horribly for days when I do. I know that I am nowhere near as bad as what I grew up with, but it still pains me to know that I have lost my temper with my child and that my actions have hurt him. He is so special and wonderful, and such a sensitive little soul. I know that if I were to continue yelling, he would internalize all of that.

So, each day, I tell myself I will do my best, even if it takes every ounce of energy I can muster. One day, nice WILL be my default mode.




Thank you for writing this. I just found your blog through the 4th trimester project and this entry really resonated with me because I too work so hard every day to not treat my husband and littles how I was treated growing up. Keep on fighting the good fight mama!

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