I can’t handle my three sons.
Here we are in a most spectacular setting by Mother Nature, a luxurious cabin by a serene lake—and I want to jump off a cliff.
I was so excited about our summer vacation: mountains, biking, kayaking, roasting marshmallows over the fire pit. I don’t mind endless hours of cooking, serving and matching socks — I’m a mom; it’s my pleasure.
But even I have my limits.
After three full days of loudness and rowdiness, offensive language and a deaf ear to my demands to stop, there is only one sound reverberating in my head: a loud buzz, so I’ve checked out. Because no matter what I do at this point, it will only pour more gasoline on the fire, making things even worse.
And yet, something must be done.
1. Find a bathroom or closet and remove yourself from the chaos for a few moments of privacy.
2. Throw a tantrum, just like your kids do (stamp your feet, shake your fists). You need to release that excess nervous energy.
3. Tell yourself it’s life. If not this madness, you’d be dealing with something else. Say, “This is normal. After all, I love them.”
4. Remind yourself that you’re not a helpless, little kid. “I’m a mature adult, I’m in control, I can handle this. It’s up to me to create the family environment I want.”
5. Once you’ve relaxed, come out from hiding. Share with your family what you want, what your expectations are, what’s important to you. Set up healthy boundaries. Repeat as often as needed.
The last night of the trip, I sit my boys down and tell them how important they are to me, how much I love and appreciate them. I apologize for losing my temper and explain that I’m doing the best I can, that I’m taking responsibility, committing to handling myself better.
I tell them that they’ve done nothing wrong; we are all learning here, as individuals and as a family. I make sure they understand that everything each of us does affects everyone else; this is how significant each of us is. Together, we decide that it’s more fun to be nice and respectful towards one another.
We make a plan to give ourselves time outs when we get angry, during which we calm down and remind ourselves what’s truly important to us, and how much we love each other.
Later, in bed, too wound up to sleep, a two-year-old conversation surfaces in my mind, propelling me to a deeper, more profound understanding of motherhood.
I was at the park with my younger boys, who were running around and screaming while I, with my ultra-pregnant belly, chased after them, breathing heavily, when I heard someone call my name. It was a Russian acquaintance of mine with her 5-year-old, an only child. She looked at me sympathetically and asked:
“Isn’t it exhausting to have all these kids? Wouldn’t you rather be doing something else with your life?”
I didn’t answer her back because I couldn’t find the words. I wasn’t wise enough at that time to sprinkle the profound grace I’ve received from my kids’ gifts onto her. But now, years later, I am ready to reply.
In my mind, I compose a letter…
My kids are not just a vigorously-active, noisy, whiny, needy, energetic, money-sucking bunch of brats who prevent me from doing what’s important, like running on my elliptical, studying new healing techniques, seeing clients, writing, getting facials and pedicures, reading a bunch of self-help books, flipping through the pages of Vogue and Coastal Living, meditating, taking naps… Actually, I do do all this, plus many other fun, cool things that life has to offer.
“But how?” I can hear you ask, your eyebrows raised in surprise.
I’ll tell you.
Instead of hiding behind a shield of excuses, filling endless journals with “could’ve, would’ve, should’ve, if only I hadn’t had all these kids,” and instead of holding my family hostage, making them responsible for my physical, mental, and emotional well being, I use the gifts they have given me to dissolve the layers of stories I have told myself.
I use them to erase the black scrawls on the wall of my ego, and to reveal the truth about who I am.
And what bursts free is my wise, powerful Self, swirling in an aura of infinite self-honor, love, respect and worth, breathing into me Her divine ability to generate, balance and manage the life she was created to live—down to every golden highlight of her salon-cut hair, heavenly-designed, silky summer dress, and freshly-painted, hot pink toenails.
And yes, at times, it is crazy and chaotic, and the dress gets stained, the nails chip, and the hair gets split ends. At those times I feel like a pie being cut and pulled in different directions, running out of slices to offer. And yet, in my heart I know that this pie with its creamy top and golden crust, this oven, kitchen, house, family, and every dirty diaper and cooking pot, are mine.
I signed the contract of ownership in a place beyond the skies, and no one else but me was born enabled to fulfill it.
I yank the blanket over my head, drifting into a deep, restful sleep with a satisfied smile.
Katherine Agranovich, Ph.D., is a Medical Hypnotherapist and Holistic Consultant. She is the Author of Tales of My Large, Loud, Spiritual Family. Call her for an office or phone consultation to attain mental-emotional alignment and close the gap between where you are and where you want to be.