Making Room For Chaos

I’m having one of those days. An agitated, pissy, every shade of bad mood kind of day where each whine from my kids rubs against my insides like a potato over a box grater. A day where every question feels like an intrusion; every request a resentment in the making. My insides feel messy and chaotic, and I’m convinced my skin is sewn on wrong.

For those of you following along at home, these visceral emotions translate into angry, lonely, hurt and sad on a standard feelings chart. I’m also feeling a smidgen of jealousy. Just for fun. Actually, the smidgen is a big win for me. Usually, I like my jealousy in big heaping tablespoons.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

We’re big on identifying and expressing feelings in our family. Although my husband and I aren’t aligned on every parenting issue, we both value and are committed to teaching our kids that all feelings are welcome in our home.

But just because we say we value feelings doesn’t mean we know what the f**k to do with them when they show up uninvited and without a hostess gift. Did I mention how much I’m hating being a parent today?

As someone who pushed all my feelings down deep into the dimples of my thighs for much of my life, learning to express my emotions while teaching our kids to express theirs is a big, messy experiment, similar to mixing Pepsi with Mentos. Feelings mean chaos, even and especially the happy ones, and I don’t do chaos easily, even after nine years as a parent. And more than five times that as a human.

I would prefer emotions expressed on my timetable.  When it’s convenient for me and I’m feeling loving and receptive, bring ‘em on. I’ll love myself and my kids through the hardest ones.

Other times, I want to fix and manage and get through those feelings in record time. Ok, kids, double time now, get those pesky emotions under control. Tick tock.

There’s a scene in the fabulous Broadway musical, The Book of Mormon, which resonates with me on many levels. The characters sing a tongue-in-cheek song about the value of pushing down unwieldy emotions, pretending they don’t exist and choosing not to feel anything painful. The catchy, upbeat lyrics to the song, “Turn It Off,” go like this:

“When you start to get confused because of thoughts in your head, don’t feel those feelings, hold them in instead. Turn it off, like a light switch, just go click … What’s so hard about that?”

If only that worked.

Teaching my kids to express their feelings responsibly means looking at and accepting my own. And today may not be a convenient day for me. I don’t want to deal with other people’s emotions today. I don’t want to listen to screaming unless it’s my own. I want to be the only one who gets to be angry and pissy and pouty. Is that too much to ask?

Unfortunately, when I don’t express my own anger, my kids act it out sideways. This morning, as my own pissiness peaked, Rhys (4) hit Ava (9) on the leg with a glittery magic wand.

Although I reminded Rhys that we don’t hit other people and helped her hit pillows instead, I was aware that I wanted to whack someone with that wand too. On the head.

Maybe I should thank Rhys for expressing my frustration for me. Or not.

Instead I need some self-care and some time with the punching bag in our basement. Mostly, I need a hug. When I’m feeling this out of sorts, my instinct is to push everyone away, to prove to myself that my feelings are toxic and hateful. But in reality, I’m human and every cell in my body is screaming for connection and love. And that’s the hardest lesson of all.

37 thoughts on “Making Room For Chaos

  1. I’d like to hit myself over the head with a big glittery wand right now! Expressing anger is something I believe in and it’s so hard to practice. Here’s to self care for today and congrats on the smidgen of jealousy!!! May it continue to shrink as you bask in our own expansiveness and abundance.

  2. I’ve been in such a good place lately that it’s hard to remember anger. That’s the thing of it? Isn’t it. When you aren’t feeling it, it feels so far away. But when you are in that dark, pissy place. Well, you just want to be left alone. You are amazing. I know you weren’t going for a pity party, but I think you will crawl of of the dark and into the light. And if you need help? I’m here. You still have my number? 😉

  3. wanting to hit someone with a glitter wand sounds great! and it cracked me up. we all feel like that. positively expressing negative emotion is not easy. you can’t swallow it but you can’t lash out either.. exercise…? ice cream? hugs. take a moment and breath and think of everything good around you. then hit your husband on the head with the glitter wand. just because you need to. he can take one for the team. 🙂
    hope you’re in a brighter place soon. @@>

  4. One of those days? Me. Too. I kind of want to hit myself over the head with a glitter wand, but it would probably just contribute to the violent headache that I’ve had since the minute I opened my eyes this morning. Hoping that maybe it’s just a Monday thing and tomorrow will be better for both of us. Oh, and ice cream for dinner tonight probably won’t hurt either 🙂

  5. Fabulous post. Really. I could relate so well to all of this. I especially like the last paragraph. I just wrote about the idea of quashing our emotions. I think it’s kind of sad how our society teaches us to push things down and away, instead of reaching out and up. Sending a huge virtual hug…

  6. I can relate to EVERY WORD of this – especially pushing people away when what I really need is a hug! I am sending you one right now by the way and if you push me away, I promise not to take it personally. xo

  7. Sorry you’ve had a tough day! It happens to all of us. I ended a situation the other night when my kids were fighting by making the comment “I can’t wait until you guys go away to college.” Not my finest moment although I’ve certainly had worse. You and you’re husband are doing it right by making it clear that ALL members of a family are sometimes happy, sometimes grumpy, sometime want to be alone, etc. Families are resilient and the “loving” part always wins out.

  8. Really appreciated this post. Also totally reminded me of when my oldest was first learning emotion words. He STILL busts out with “Are you feeling frustrated?” often when I’m being crabby. These lessons stick!

  9. I’ve been on a crabby bent myself, lately. It must be something in the air. I feel like I’ve had more than my share of “not my best parenting moments” lately. Ugh. I do think it’s best and healthiest for kids ot learn that even parents have all the emotions, too, and that’s okay!

    • I agree – my kids see a wide range of emotions from me on a regular basis! 😉 When I accept whatever I’m feeling, my kids seem to take it more in stride. We’re all a work in progress!

  10. Are you reading my thoughts? Occasionally I have those same feelings and emotions, yet I seldom get a chance to deal with and sort through my feelings because I have 2 children that demand my attention, concern and care. Every once in a while when I’m at my breaking point, I think that I’m teaching my kids how to behave by my behavior…then I break anyway and try to repair it later by telling them that I handled that incorrectly. I’m so glad to hear you echo what many of of moms might experience from time to time.

  11. Ah… of THOSE days eh? Been there, oh yes I have!!! The worst is when you have those irritable nasty emotions and there is no REASON for them! I can place more value on an emotion that is triggered by a situation or person, but when I just wake up pissy and wanting to eat anyone alive that comes into contact with me- oh how I wish I could turn that switch off!
    Ya know what though? I am so proud of how it seems you have grown so so much from the years of shoving those feelings away – some people spend their entire lives neglecting/dismissing/ignoring/hiding/projecting/refusing- their emotions. As difficult as it is to attend to them, it’s also so glorious when the really profound and beautiful feelings come too! I know you have those often!
    And it seems writing about our dark moments of yuck- truly detoxifies ourselves a bit doesn’t it? I love when that happens…

    • How do you do it? Your comments always make me smile and leave me feeling warm and happy inside. Thank you! And yes, writing about my dark moments makes a world of difference – to me and to my family who love me either way but perhaps prefer the detoxified version! Thank you for all your love! xo

  12. “But just because we say we value feelings doesn’t mean we know what the f**k to do with them when they show up uninvited and without a hostess gift.” Brilliant!!

  13. Pingback: How many parts of us lay dormant for maybe years to be one day awaken? | bluepearlgirl's world

  14. I get this. Some days, I really really just want to get immensely angry at people, and just be a bitch without hurting someone, or feel guilty.

    At least, we have the outlet of writing it out, yes?

  15. {Melinda} I SO get this … I’ve really been struggling lately to keep from being annoyed. I’ve been too stressed, too busy, too … everything. I find I have to keep praying through it or I say things I really wish I wouldn’t have. Can’t keep my emotions in check without God’s help … that’s a fact. 🙂

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