5:00 p.m. on Halloween Night:
“I HATE HALLOWEEN!I wish I could just cancel it and send you all to bed at 5:30 pm!” I shouted.
I have not screamed at my 12 year old son like that for several years. And I felt like a jerk. As he tried to explain to me what he was doing, I suddenly realized that I had misheard him and as a result, completely misunderstood what he was trying to say; he was trying to tell me he was doing a job that his dad had just given him, but I thought he was complaining and telling me he had done all the jobs and he was not doing any more. I felt awful, and immediately apologized in a very soft voice. But as I tried to explain to him that it had been a stressful week and I had a lot on my mind, I suddenly could not speak because I was crying!
It was crazy.
As you know, Halloween this year fell on a Friday, which happened to round out a very hectic week for me. I have some very exciting work projects that demanded a lot of my attention and concentration last week. I have also been helping two friends work through their divorce, learned that a family member has cancer, and have had to deal with a couple of situations with my children’s schools. It was a very busy week where I found no time for myself.
I have learned over the past few years how important self-care is. I try hard to fit in exercise whenever possible, time for reading books, walking our dog, as well as quiet time that I can spend alone. As an introvert, this is a very necessary thing for me and it is how I recharge myself. But there was very little spare time last week and I did not work to carve out any time. As a result, I was easily pulled off balance and “off center.” My children’s plans for Halloween were very nebulous and constantly changing last week, so when Friday came, I was very edgy. That is what primed me to explode at my son when I misunderstood him.
As I reflected back on that scenario, I realized how all the details of last week culminated in my screaming at him from a completely unconscious place. It showed me once again that no matter how many things are on my plate – and often when I have the most on my plate – I must prioritize and make sure I fit in time to recharge myself. If it had been a “normal” week for me, I am quite sure I would not have launched into him the way I did.
I also know that it is damaging to beat myself up over lashing out. So I simply forgave myself, apologized again to my son during a quiet moment, and made sure to figure out how to get back to “myself” to avoid doing that again. This week has already been different. It has still been a busy week, but I have found time to slow down when possible, and I notice I feel much less edgy and much more peaceful. So the lesson for me is what I always tell other people – make sure that I find time to do those things that renew and recharge myself – because I am a much kinder, gentler person when I do.