when I thought I had an anger problem and then remembered I’m an introvert

Since adding Chiara to the mix, I’ve been reading/thinking/talking about parenting more than I ever have before. It’s not her – she’s almost unicorn baby level of chill – it’s me. It’s me learning what it feels like to be stretched to my limits and operate at full capacity. And what it looks like when I snap.

Anger, friends. So much anger.

Before becoming a mom, I don’t know if I’d ever experienced anger as an emotion before. Seriously. Annoyance and irritation, sure, but … rage? Nope. I’m an Enneagram 9 and the classic problem with that type is “being out of touch with one’s anger,” and I always thought, hm, weird, that doesn’t apply to me. Hah!

A while ago, I had two separate conversations with friends in the course of a week about going to counseling for parenting issues. Specifically, dealing with anger as a parent. And it surprised me that I had never thought of this as an option before, but because it popped up twice, it seemed like something I should consider. But then, all the obstacles – cost, insurance, childcare? And I didn’t do anything.

Then, one afternoon a few days later, I had a fantastic blow up at Evangeline and finally decided – if counseling is what it takes to make this stop, I have to do it.

I ended up making an appointment at the Women’s Care Center in town because a) it’s free and b) I could bring Zelie and Chiara, and I had a conversation with a counselor. I went in expecting her to give me strategies to manage anger, but when I described that I have a 4 year old, 2.5 year old, and 5 month old, and I get angry with my 4 year old when I’m tired, she turned the conversation towards self-care.

Are you getting enough sleep? Do you have help from your husband? Do you get time to exercise, be alone?

And I thought, Wait a second. Is this really the answer?

I consider myself good at asking for help and knowing what I need. The self-care route seemed like an easy out.

Later that day, I started reading a book called Introverted Mom, and found myself laughing in relief. She laid out three truths about anger that RESONATED.

  1. Anger is the natural response to the hard parts of motherhood, especially as an introvert.
  2.  Anger is an indicator to pause or change something (a bodily cue, similar to hunger).
  3. Quiet is a must for an introverted mom.

Oh yeah!! I’m an introvert! Everything made sense again. (I don’t know if I fully recommend this whole book, but it was worth it even just for this beginning part).

I don’t have an underlying anger issue. The self-care stuff isn’t secondary. I need to recharge to be a sane person good mom and partner to Chris.

The book gave me some reminders of ways to recharge and I thought of things I already naturally do, but now I recognize them as necessary.

Here’s what’s working right now:

  • Lighting a candle in the morning darkness
  • Morning Prayer from Magnificat while I nurse (even v interrupted)
  • Playing music
  • Getting out for a run about 2x/week
  • Reading novels while nursing
  • Stepping outside to just breathe
  • Soaking up the colors of the fall leaves
  • 20 min power naps
  • Going to bed as early as I can
  • Conversations with good friends (over Marco Polo if not in person)
  • Giving Evangeline a 20 min show after her quiet time (to bribe her to stay in her room for her quiet time and give myself a little more time)
  • Historical British dramas (Downton Abbey)

 

 

I’m learning to recognize what my “buttons” are, and to step away when I need to. And to note, without judgement, when I am particularly tired or overstimulated … before I lose it. I’m working on making time during the week and a regular time each weekend for me to do something restorative (Chris is a big part of this).

Because then I set myself up to enjoy time with these cuties and they get a happier mama. Win win.

 

 

the good list

Quick takes on what’s working well around here lately and the little moments I’m holding onto each day that are just good.

IMG-0830

1. Tidy time. I borrowed this idea from my friend while Chris was in London. After dinner, Evange (and Zelie, somewhat) tidies up all the toys around the house and then she gets to watch a 20 minute show. She is SO MOTIVATED. She will ask me, before we’ve even had dinner, “Is it tidy time??” If Zelie helps, or it’s early enough, she gets to watch, and if I’m doing bedtime solo I will put her to bed while Evange finishes the episode. And I love coming downstairs to a clean playroom in the morning. Win win. (I know I just wrote a post about living more Montessori at home and yet I do daily screen time. I contain multitudes.) 

2. Ice cream cones. This feels like a life hack that I know will not last forever but am savoring now. I have a hard time with endless afternoons if we don’t have something scheduled to go and do, but this has been great to help us transition from naps to playing outside. We make a smoothie together, put it in a waffle cone (left over from Evange’s 3rd birthday party) and they have to eat it outside. And then we’re out there for an hour or more, usually.

3. Warm afternoons. Once we’re outside, Evange and Zelie have started playing “Mama” together. Zelie runs around yelling, “Mama!” and I yell, “What?” and she says, “Not you! I’m talking to Evange!” Perfect. I sit with Chiara and drink tea and read while they play and even if nap times didn’t align, I’m still so grateful that it’s warm and sunny and we are all outside. Even when they end up naked and covered in smoothie. (Because winter is coming…)

IMG-0804

4. Mornings with the littles. We’ve found a weekly rhythm with a balance of playdates and time at home. Zelie plays fairly independently and it’s been fun to show her the Montessori activities on the shelves, and then just watch her get absorbed in lining up all her little Play Mobil peeps in different configurations. She also gets to go to her “preschool time,” which is an hour of coloring, songs, snacks, and playtime with three other 2 year old girls on our street. So cute. I’m so grateful for that.

img-0816.jpg
our Thursday mornings. this time was playing in the lobby of Evange’s school while Bernadette’s mom helped in the Atrium

5. Tomatoes, basil, and zinnias. The only parts of our jungle garden that are still going strong, but it’s perfect. I ask Evange to pick more tomatoes whenever we’re outside, and to pick me a new bouquet every few days. Soaking up all the color because, again, I’m already dreading winter.

6. Our Bosch. Our dishwasher stopped working in January after the Polar Vortex and even though multiple dishwasher repairmen have told me that was just a coincidence, I’m not wholly convinced. My dad gave me money for a new one after his recent visit, there was a Labor Day sale still going strong, and I did the thing. I had forgotten how amazing it is to have a dishwasher. All the praise hands. Thanks, Dad!

IMG-0819

7. Elementary. Another gift from my dad’s visit – Chris and I once again have access to our favorite TV show from when we were dating that we never finished. Nostalgia. 

end of september quick takes

Well, it’s fall now and if I seem obsessed with seasons it’s because summer in South Bend is HOT, fall is crisp and gorgeous but FLEETING, and winter is grey and freezing and ETERNAL. And I don’t do well with change. But before September is gone I wanted to reflect on how back to school went and other random thoughts/things.

1)  Evangeline starts her fifth week of school this week and it’s going really well. She’s made friends, likes her teachers, and loves the playground and snack time (of course). I spend the five minute drive home peppering her with questions about the “works” she did, but she rarely is able to tell me much about those. Understandable. She was exhausted after school for the first week or so but has adjusted and now she’s her normal three year old self the rest of the day. I try to make sure she gets a car nap once or twice a week because she needs it every so often, but girlfriend will not nap in her bed anymore.

2) Evange in school means mornings look different for me now. If she’s not up, I get her up by 7:20 and get her dressed and do her hair so we’re eating breakfast by 7:30 and she has plenty of time to eat before hopping in the car at 8, to get to school before 8:15. We have not been late yet! Woot! Zelie is along for the ride but by the time we get back she’s nearly ready for her morning nap. (She’s been waking up at 5am… blerg.) But I’m so glad she still takes two naps, because I get to finish my tea with a book on the deck and it has been glorious. I usually have time to shower, too, and get some things done around the house. I sometimes feel like I should do more with that time, but I got a part time job that will start soon, so I’m just enjoying the freedom for now.

3) Which leads me to books! I finished Crazy Rich Asians (I dropped my library copy in the bathtub – oops), read six or so essays from Flannery O’Connor’s Mystery and Manners (highly enjoyable), and now I find myself working through three non-fiction books, which never happens. Catherine of Siena by Sigrid Undset (really enjoying as spiritual reading), The Grace of Enough by Haley Stewart (reminding me I want to go further with gardening next summer, and also maybe be open to backyard chickens again), and No- Drama Discipline (which I’m reading v v slowly but is good). Oh and I’m on Harry Potter #5 audiobook for those car naps.

4) Fall! We went apple picking, the weather was perfect, I was so happy.

5) We’ve lived in our house for six months now and I feel pretty settled here. I found this bench at a rummage sale and decided to give it a chance and I’m pleased with the results. My favorite part of the house is the backyard, though, so I want to get more use out of the fire pit and just soak it all up before it’s covered in snow (gahhhh). I had the chance to host a group of mom friends for a prayer and playdate time twice this month and both mornings were warm so we were outside. I really enjoy being able to practice hospitality and get more use out of all this space. Different note – we’re renting out the house for a few football weekends and that made us decide to buy a TV. I am equal parts horrified that we own one, proud of myself for navigating Best Buy and setting up Chrome Cast, and guilty that our house feels too luxurious now. But it has been nice for college football viewing. (And Evange got some Silly Songs With Larry when she succumbed to the miserable cold we’ve all been fighting this week).

6) Speaking of the house, life with a housemate has been swell. He’s super busy so he’s not around often, but when he’s home he is great with the girls and they love him. And if he’s around for dinner and Chris is still at class, he does the dishes while I put the girls to bed and it is the best thing ever. Highly recommend.

7) I’ll end with a little pat on my back because this month marked one year of cloth diapering, and I’m still going strong. Well, actually, several of the hand-me-down diapers with velcro fastens need the velcro replaced, which has made me use more disposables in between washings, but once I get that sorted it’ll be smooth sailing. I even took them traveling – to NJ for Christmas and to RI this summer – because we drove and would be in a house with washer/dryer so why not? I’m still finding satisfaction in the re-usable-ness of them and I don’t mind the work involved, so we’ll see how long it goes.

Anyway, Happy Monday! Any good fiction recs? I’ll take em!