Sunday, January 26, 2014

Crabby Abby

I noticed this morning, rushing from home to the subway to meet friends and go to a new play space, that I was feeling crabby. I was rushing Calliope along, and being abrupt with my SMC friend's five year old (who I had offered to watch for the morning.)

And I was watching, as if from a distance, thinking, "What do I have to be snappy about?"

I had almost no plans this weekend, and I got up Saturday morning and put away the laundry and went grocery shopping. And Saturday afternoon I did a big cooking project, so I wouldn't have to cook for a few days.

So what do I have to feel stressed out?

And if I'm this irritable with one child, do I really have any business having another?

My parents were awfully short tempered, and it wasn't a nice way to grow up.

And I notice that I am quick to correct Calliope, quick to instill consequences. I don't know how much is too much. Should I be letting more things go?

All in all, I'm not feeling like a big fan of myself.

And also, I feel this unbearable longing sometimes to be alone. On weekend mornings, I crave just a few more minutes to myself. Whatever I get, it's never enough.

So this afternoon, during Calliope's nap, I took a few minutes to sit down with myself. And I started to think, "Dude, what gives???"

But then I decided to be gentler. So I said to myself, "Gosh Abby, I notice you are feeling really irritable lately. And maybe instead of cracking the whip -- because when does being annoyed lead to a feeling of greater friendliness? -- we could just sit down and notice the feeling. Notice it, and acknowledge it, and agree not to make up an explanation about it. But just try to slow down and let go."

So I sat with that for a few minutes.

And afterwards, I felt a little better.

And tonight, I noticed that I didn't scold Calliope when she dallied in the bathroom. I just waited. And when my five year old friend came to us in tears because her project wouldn't work the way she wanted, instead of letting her mother address it while simultaneously cooking dinner, I stopped my grown up conversation and said, "Aww, that sounds frustrating! Would you like some help?"

And tomorrow, I'm going to take a sick day -- I was scheduled to go to a conference so the school won't miss me, and the thought of traveling to this confernece Queens is just too overwhelming. So I'm going to take a day to just lie around. And let my child go out with her nanny as scheduled. And get some time fully alone in my apartment.

I feel so much better already.


  1. I still look back on that time when I was the angry, punishing mommy when B wouldn't stop playfully hitting me, and shudder. Even then I asked myself, is this the relationship you want with your child, a cycle of constant misbehavior followed by punishment? With you always scolding and him always crying? Sometimes our default is just modeling our parents. It's hard to take a step back and realize we need to be more patient, they're just little kids! Kudos to you for having the self-awareness. I guess that's the first step, huh?

  2. What a great self-care plan! Good for you!

  3. I absolutely think it is healthiest when we take those occasions to check in with ourselves....though it is easier said than done. I hope that your alone time tomorrow gives you the much needed break you deserve.

  4. Good for you! I admire you noticing what you need.

  5. Wow. What a powerful post. Easy to forget we need to parent ourselves as well as our children!

    (And once I'm back at work, I'm going to follow your lead and take a day off just for myself now and then. We deserve it.)

  6. I agree with everyone that you are doing a great thing to take care of yourself. :-)

  7. This made me cry! I had a weekend of short temperedness & was feeling pretty shitty about myself. I love that you cut yourself a break. We all need to be gentler with ourselves, don't we?

  8. You are an amazing momma Abby. This is something we can all learn from too. Thanks for sharing. Don't give yourself a hard time over the moments you were crabby either. Just openly dealing with it the way you have is great modelling and actually makes it a valuable lesson in dealing with your self for the benefit of calliope and your 5yo friend, and us! X