Friday, December 12, 2014

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good:” I Yelled.....

And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good:” I Yelled
John Steinbeck, East of Eden

This morning I lost my temper.

I did not see it coming. I got up early to make lunch and dinner for my newly vegetarian daughters, put the return addresses on Christmas cards, practice yoga, and get ready for a day of private practice.

One of my daughters approached me to borrow yoga pants. After a series of words exchanged-

I yelled.

I yelled and then slammed a door…..

and began to cry.

When I was pregnant, I told myself- “Catherine- you will never hit, spank or otherwise lay a hand on your children. You will never yell at them. Ever. You will parent from a grounded, rational place that teaches and models effective coping and mental health.”

I said that and I meant it.

To this day, I have never physically disciplined my children. For the most part, I have not yelled much (much...)- I have done some loud complaining for sure. My kids would argue that my “loud complaining” was in fact yelling. However, providing a clear basis for distinction- on several occasions, I have in fact yelled.

One of my really proud moments (sarcasm here) was Christmas shopping about 5 years ago. My children were tired and having a hard time. We had to leave the mall- with much left to do. I was extremely frustrated and pretty mad. Once we were in the “silence chamber” of the car- I began to fully express my frustration. Catching myself and exasperated, I finally yelled to my daughters, “I want you to listen to this Christmas music. I hope you listen hard and think about yourselves. Think about what you have done.” And then I turned the Christmas music up really loud.

Yes. We drove home with me mad. The girls in the back seat- trying not to cry or laugh or something in between. When I was little, at times like this, we (my brothers and sisters) would cast knowing looks at each other thinking, “Okay, Mom lost it.”

My daughters still tease me about that ride home to this day. “Mom, remember when you yelled at us and then blasted the Christmas music telling us to think about ourselves?”

“Yes, Yes I do remember that. One of my proudest moments.”

Back to today.

So, yeah. I yelled.

Right away I was sorry. And then I wanted to blame and rationalize why I yelled and why it was okay. Then, I felt sorry again.

I felt like a lie. Like a giant hypocrite.

I do not want to yell, ever. I don’t want a house with yelling in it. I want a house with love, thoughtfulness, and learning in it. Teenagers are teenagers. They always have been and always will be exactly what they are. I said above that I did not see it coming- how could I not? I have two teenagers. Frustration, challenge, and moments of great connection and beauty are always randomly, unexpectedly, and predictably around any corner.

Still, my intention holds true. No matter what comes my way- I don’t want to yell. I don’t like the way I feel before, during or after. It is not effective. And it is not consistent with who I am working to be or who I am when I feel integrated and effective.

The very hardest part was that I still had a yoga practice to complete. My children had left for school- avoiding me.

I did not want to practice yoga. I wanted to feel aligned with the horrible feeling that I was having. I had passing thoughts that if I practiced, I was pretending to be someone I was not.

I rolled out my mat and practiced ANYWAY (I put that in caps because that is how it felt- loud- ANYWAY). I did many, many sun salutations and let the energy of the morning move through me. I then let myself do any postures and movement that felt right, that felt like what I needed. It was a compassionate practice.

I felt kind to myself afterword.

It was then time to make things right. Apologize. No excuses. No rationalizations.

I sent my daughters this text, “I am sorry I yelled. I don’t want to be a person who yells and slams doors. It is not my intention or what I want. No excuses. I will work hard to be the person I want to be.”

And I will.

And now that I have taken a step back from all-or-nothing perfect……
I have a chance to be good.


Catherine Cook-Cottone

The Yoga Bag

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