I haven’t slept in 4 days. Or maybe it’s 5 days. I can’t remember anymore and it’s unimportant. The point is that I’m bone tired and I’ve fallen into the patterns that I learned as a child.
The patterns I’m in do not foster connection with my family. They are authoritarian rather than authoritative parenting. Authoritarian parenting is like a fallback position when I’m backed into a corner. All my willingness to work together toward a common goal is gone and I’m baring my teeth while I grab what I can.
I want obedience to my will rather than compromising to get things done. My snarling animal brain wants quiet over connection, acquiescence over acceptance. And my kids are looking at me as if their mom has been replaced by some strange animal. They’re not sure whether I’ll bite if they reach out to pet me.
I want everything to stop or leave me be or go away. I want the pause button now, please.
I just want everyone to stop needing me for an hour so I can find the off buttons on this alarm system.
It’s ironic, really, because treating them like this doesn’t make things easier for me, but my exhaustion-fogged brain hasn’t got the capability to listen to reason. The blinking red lights are on and the alarms are blaring too loudly to notice anything else.
I’m mean mom inside-way meaner than I appear to the kids, because I’ve gotten good at biting my tongue before I yell. But, I’m commanding instead of explaining. I’m barking orders instead of gently leading. And I’m sticking to my guns, even when it doesn’t matter because this tiredness makes my brain rigid.
This is the reason I wrote the post on being mindful while sleep deprived this morning.
I’ve been struggling all day. I put on one of those yellow Livestrong bracelets as a reminder to break my negative thinking chain and it helped to have that visual trigger.
As the afternoon went by, I noticed that I wasn’t able to break my train of negative thinking before it happened. But, I was able to stop mid-sentence or mid-thought a majority of the time. I’d start off with “Get down from there this instant!” and end up with “Get down from…!” and take a breath. I could then walk over and gently move the child off the counter (today was a counter-climbing day, unfortunately) while saying, “It’s not safe to climb on the kitchen counter. I’ll help you down now.”
I wasn’t able to be spark my brain into suggesting a safer alternative climbing activity that would have saved me from having to repeat this ad infinitum today, but I was able to repeat this process with equanimity and I’m pleased with that.
The other thing I had no success with was breaking out of thinking about everything negatively and seeing everything and everyone as intruding on me. I think I was mildly shocked anytime something happened or someone said anything to me, and this alarm translated into a feeling of being on alert.
I also didn’t have success in changing my mood by putting on music, getting outside, exercising or getting a major household task completed today. Even though I did all of those things, they had little to no impact on how I felt. I’m sure when I’ve caught up on sleep, I will feel better looking back on them.
Overall, I’m pleased that I didn’t yell or shame anyone today, except myself. But, I’m remembering to be gentle with myself about that, too. So maybe I’m not entirely mean to myself right now.
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(Since I’m writing most of these late at night, in bed, while tandem nursing twins, I’m choosing to concentrate on writing rather than proof-reading or editing. Please forgive the extra typos and non-nonsensical grammar. Thank you.)