I’ve got two beautiful children, this I know. But yesterday the universe replaced them with a snarky, back-talking 5-year old, and a cranky 15-month old hypnophobic with very long finger nails.
I typically have a lot of patience, but once I’ve been clawed in the face repeatedly and reached peak frustration, I find that I can’t bring myself back down to calm very quickly or easily. Like a pot of water that has reached boiling point, and then takes a long time to cool back down to room temperature. Instead, the water remains quite hot, and therefore takes a lot less time to reach boiling again if put back on the burner. And yesterday my kids turned up my burner again and again and again.
In the afternoon, we had finally organized ourselves enough to get out to the store, and were driving happily in our car, singing songs, and generally getting along, and I was thinking ‘this is a good moment!’ Until it wasn’t. One of the kids hurt/annoyed the other, and they both started up at each other. It took only a millisecond for me to shout at them: “You guys are driving me absolutely crazy! Today is impossible! I’ve had enough!”
I was struck by the extreme contrast. Things had been fine – I had actually taken note of the particularly good moment – and then things were impossible. Of course, since my temperature was already raised, it took so little for me to lose it. I was harbouring so much anger from all the earlier frustrations, a situation I would normally handle rather calmly instead turned into a storm.
I recognized that I was shouting at them for something that wouldn’t normally warrant more than a word. It wasn’t fair. They deserved not to be held guilty for all the cumulative actions of the day, but just the actions in that moment. A fresh start.
When I really thought about it, I recognized how many times I do this in life, in all my relationships. When people wrong me, or disappoint me, I’m not sure whether I wipe the slate entirely clean. But why would I hold those previous actions against someone? I’m certainly more than the sum total of all of my mistakes in life.
There are so many opportunities for fresh starts.
Every day. Every moment.