Friday, June 5, 2009

Caught in the whirlpool

Photo by Marijn de Vries Hoogerwerff on Flickr
My first week of summer class is over. They are my favorite classes of the entire year, in spite of the grueling schedule (6 credit hours in 16 days). The class has gone great. We are all still adjusting to the switch in my working hours, but the first week went well, overall.

I don't know why, but I am always a little surprised at how much the kids take their cue from my emotional barometer. By Wednesday, I was no fun to be around, at all. I have to get up around 5AM and none of us are getting our usual amount of sleep, because we are still going to bed (or at least falling asleep) around the normal time for us. After teaching for several hours, I just wanted to relax, and instead, my kidlets wanted more energy and involvement than I wanted to give. After being away from me all day, they want so much to reconnect, when I just want to veg in front of the computer.

Intellectually, I know that if I can muster up the reserves to play and connect with them and refill their love cups, things will go so much more smoothly. But, boy oh boy, the selfish side of me just wants to ignore that. As I said, Wednesday was pretty nasty. My selfish side was winning, and they were getting more frustrated and desperate for attention. You could practically see the point when that desperation reached the level where cooperation and obedience disintegrated and they were using any means necessary to engage me.

It all just spiraled. My irritability and grouchiness just fed the break in our connection and they became as miserable as I was. We are not a perfect family, of course, but there is normally a strong undercurrent of peace in our home. Even though they may be frequent, the moments of craziness or correction are generally just on the surface. This week, the erosion of relationship was producing some really ugly discord. We were all caught in the whirlpool of hurt feelings and hurtful words and actions.

Thursday was much better. We snuggled a lot, and then went to the splash park and had fun. You know what? It really didn't take that much energy, and certainly nowhere near the energy drain of fighting each other. The evening went much more smoothly. Just as my attitude had trapped us in the whirlpool before, once I got out of it, they followed my lead. Today has been a good day, although Joel and Elena are still much clingier than usual.

It was a good reminder for me that I have the authority (the responsibility and the power) to change the attitude in my home. I can steer us into or out of emotional whirlpools. Right now, the only whirlpool I want to be in is a nice whirlpool tub, with lavender bath salts, a good book, a great coffee drink, and a piece of chocolate. And maybe a few happily splashing kidlets. :)


Anonymous said...

Amazing- and yes, I hear you!

I was noting the same thing last night. We have a more harmonious household when I take a few moments to acknowledge the need for connection that my son or husband have.

I think you summed it up well- fill their cups, and then I can take care of my own beverage. Unfortunately, the nights where things go awry are usually the nights where I want a beverage badly!

dulce de leche said...

Thanks, Barb, and I totally understand about the nights when we are thirsty, too. :) It is tough to find the balance, sometimes.