I have a secret to tell you, and I haven’t openly admitted it yet, even though you may have been suspecting… I have superpowers. The struggle is real, my friends. For me, it wasn’t until I had kids that I discovered my magical powers.
You see, I have the incredible ability to reach a level of exhaustion by the evening that will randomly turn my Mary Poppins persona into more like Miss Hannigan, sans the awful drunken part. I can sing like a cool popstar and then quickly sound like Darth Vader, if tested just so. My sweet eyes can hug you from across the room with a loving gaze, and they can also shoot red-hot laser beams to freeze a sneaky child’s actions in light-speed. I ammagical—I kid you not.
I am also the tooth fairy, the dishes fairy, the laundry fairy, and the bye-bye-boo-boo fairy. I have about a half dozen arms and legs that “go-go gadget” out of my body to carry children, groceries, backpacks, winter coats, water bottles, and a 10-pound purse at a moment’s notice. I have hyper-reflex powers that will catch a feisty child who kicked his chair backwards in a split second. My super-extendo arm has uncanny-spinning moves that can randomly catch a friend’s kid right before a nasty fall. I am superhuman, just like you.
Parenting, wife-ing, professional-ing, mommy-ing, house cleaner-ing, and hot momma-ing may require a whole bunch of hats and even more energy than given credit, and we wouldn’t trade it for the world. But somehow, in the midst of these enchanted skills, my powers seem to dwindle quite quickly after the kids come home from school.
I do miss them all day and wait for the moment to give them a huge hug again, but somehow my superhuman level of exhaustion suddenly makes a cameo and peaks somewhere in between the usual afternoon code 3-alarm of life-threatening emergencies. You know, the kind where one child is squealing over a misplaced stuffed animal, at the same time as a child on the toilet needing immediate butt-wiping, another is tattling on her sibling who called her “stink-face,” and the inevitable contest of howls when one bumps another, so that neither of them get blamed for their secret smackdown over a toy.
And I often wonder if my phone is enchanted too, because every time I pick up a phone, something bizarre happens. No matter where I am in the house, my kids find me via their inner phone radar and fall into an intense trance, chanting “mommy” progressively louder and red in the face. Only when the phone rings, right?
“Supermom” label or not, we all have our kryptonite breaking points. But even through my “Ol’ Yeller” syndrome, as my husband has coined it, I have somehow mostly mastered the art of taming my enchanted talents and keeping the peace and calm in the midst of any storm. If you have been touched by magical powers too, read on to learn how to diffuse your inner Incredible Hulk and Dr. Jekyll & Momma Hyde powers only for good.
I used to think that the only way to be “heard” was to raise my voice over the background noise. Talk above it and on it, and momma Hyde will reign supreme, shoot eye daggers to paralyze a misbehavior, or let out the inner Hulk to manage a fussy toddler into time-out, no matter how slippery. And when you feel really frustrated, unleash the Darth Vader quiet grumbly voice to really show them you’re mad.
After many mornings of feeling like a rockstar and many evenings feeling like a failure parent for shouting too much or being overtired and temperamental, I learned quite a few tangible tips that helped me to better cope and manage my superpowers.
1. Take off the cape and say sorry. When a moment gets the best of you and you unleash your beastly sounds, take a breath and just be human. When those impressionable eyes fill up with tears and their head turns to the side to figure out why you are so mad, just begin anew. Stop, take a breath, and be human again for a moment. No moment is that bad. Don’t crush their lively spirit with a terrible tirade. Apologize if you misspoke or shouted. Offer your sincere forgiveness for your temper and openly discuss your feelings. I am a strong proponent of “I feel” statements. It’s simply clear, non-verbose, and easy to process. Start off your thoughts with those two words and explain. It’s good for children to see that we are real human beings who actually make mistakes. Remember, your voice becomes a child’s inner voice and instinct. Teach and demonstrate positive behaviors as you would want them to do, mistakes and all.
2. Realize this is just a passing wave and ride it out. Here’s a great game I often play in my head during a moment. Just like a wave, a tantrum, over-sensorial squealy kid moment, or overwhelmed demandy-pants moment, they only last about 10-15 minutes or less (if you don’t fuel the situation and stretch it out). Regardless, the temper will pass if you ride it out. You decide how you want to pass the time, once you tune out the drama. Seriously, next fussy tantrum, check your watch and pass the time. Sometimes I sing over it, waste time on Facebook, or simply tune it out. I start with, “sorry, I don’t speak in Tantrum. Let me know when your calm voice returns and my ears will reopen.” First the noise grows terribly loud and then it miraculously stops with your fixed stance on the issue and calm demeanor. It’s incredible. Try it out, works every time! In the end, it’s a win-win because you conquered the storm without losing your cool.
3. Channel your inner librarian. I used to think that I needed to be louder to be heard. Classic faux pas, my friends. I even tried the teacher-clapping trick for attention, and it only worked for so long. I don’t seem to have those superpowers all the time. Then I learned that if I kept a calm tone, like a sweet librarian, the kids would first wonder why I wasn’t reacting, then they would impulsively ask me to stop yelling (until they realized that I was actually whispering), and then become quiet and respond calmly, mimicking my tone. It’s amazing how one mom sets the tone for the house, constantly. Test out this pattern and you will crack yourself up. You can thank me later.
I never knew how to get a handle on my temper, my chaos, and my moment, until these last few months. I can now go to sleep feeling proud and serene. Try it out and tweak it, as needed, for a while—and you will fall asleep at night feeling proud too, for a job well done.
Wishing you many peaceful sleeps (without knobby toddler knees piercing your back).