Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sleepy? Meet Grumpy.

We are always telling our kids to “use their words” instead of lashing out in anger or frustration. Sometimes in the few minutes after school ends, but before we can get a snack, our minivan seems more like it's carrying zoo animals, instead of a mom, a dog, and two kids. Sometimes there is sluggish silence, other times guttural groaning, and occasionally animated interaction.

When I think about everything that could have taken place while the kids have been at school, I wonder how they can even be lucid at this point. We’ve heard how asking kids, “How was your day?” is generally ineffective, and I think it would take a lot of maturity and self-awareness to be able to put into words the essence of all that transpired: sitting still, writing, navigating social waters, taking tests, playing musical instruments, getting in trouble, wondering who is best friends with whom, being hungry, using self-control…

The highs and lows in this 6 ½ hour time span are boggling to me. During that same 6 ½ hours I’ve had time alone at home, in my car, on the computer, and at work. These 2 little introverts of mine have been “on” all day long.

Sometimes we don’t always know what makes those around us grumpy. It took me 10 years to realize that Tom’s occasional stony silence and sourpuss looks probably had more to do with the Yankees losing than anything the kids or I had done. I know now to ask my generally pleasant husband, “Was there a big game last night?”

For the kids, grumpiness can come from anything from a scratchy tag to feeling left out in the neighborhood or wondering if a friend still likes them.

The things that get me grumpy are endless. Have I been fed in the last 3 hours? Do I have to pee? Did I get enough sleep? Okay, I know I sound like a newborn, but, truly, any of these can throw me off.

What about the morning newspaper? Can I find the Style section? Have I had caffeine? Ok, what about shoes? If my shoes are uncomfortable, watch out!

So if physical discomforts can send me into a tailspin, what about the larger issues—spiritual, social, relational? And people who are really, really needy? Yep, that throws me off, too.

I remember standing in the high school hallway with a colleague who insisted on detailing his Julius Caesar lesson plan to me at 5 pm. I tried to be polite and interested, but after a while, my mind went elsewhere. I had been there since 6:30 am for heaven’s sake-- would this guy ever stop talking?

He accused me of not giving him my full attention, which was true, but would he have chosen reality over my superficial nodding? Would he have preferred knowing that I was in a dire tampon emergency situation and that my mind was…elsewhere?

I guess what I’m saying is we don’t ever know what’s really going with other people. Sometimes we aren’t even self-aware enough to know what’s going on with us.

I was super grumpy to Tom and the kids this morning because I’m feeling stressed about being away Thursday through Sunday. Was I really pissed that Molly couldn’t find a uniform shirt to suit her fancy, or was I thinking about all the laundry I’ve done and have yet to do before leaving tomorrow?

When my kids are grumpy, I try to give them grace, knowing that while they can’t be disrespectful or hateful, home should be a safe place where they can relax and recharge.

When I’m grumpy, they tend to give me my space—“Look out—here comes Mom.” I know my grumpiness is NOT good model of “using my words”—as I huff and puff and sigh and pace throughout the house.

But home needs to be a safe place for Mom, too. I guess I could wear a little sign that says, "It's not You, it's Me" unless, of course, it isn't.


Christy said...

Wow - that guy trying to tell you HIS lesson plan at 5pm? Nice. I'd say you dealt with it with more grace than I would have...I'm sure I would have said, I'm really sorry but I have to run. And then I'd have one more enemy out there.

But really, great post. You're right - you never really know what's going on with other people. And I love your philosophy about your home as your haven, for all who live there. I like to think that my house is too. :)

Anonymous said...

Love this :)
I think my children and husband are far more adept at getting to the roots of my grumpy-ness than I am. Some days when I know how I am feeling, I like to be explicit... I wear my "Grumpy" sweatshirt.
Or, on days like to day, I wear my "Love Your Mother" shirt. There is a picture of Earth surrounded by little hearts, but they get the pun... I need a hug!

Debbie said...

Some days I'm just so grumpy and cannot figure out why. Which makes me grumpier:)

Heidi said...

I needed this. Thanks. :)

2 Brits, 2 Yanks, 2 Dogs said...

Hey "Grumpy" - I have a little award over at my blog for you that might make you "happy"

Shawn said...

What a great post! I just feel like taking tantrums sometimes!
So---I can relate to the baby thing---I feel that way often.

And sometimes we just want to be left alone! Hmmmmm----maybe thats what our kids want too?

Meaghan said...

No need to wear a scarlet "G" at home, right? Some days are good, some are fraught with shoes that pinch, a missing style section and barristas who mistakenly serve you decaf. What's a mama to do?

Love your writing.

Marinka said...

Grumpiness is really underrated. Is it related to crankiness? When my kids get cranky, I always think that there's some profound reason and it usually is something like they're hungry.

Christen said...

You may be one of the funniest, most interesting writers/ bloggers I've ever had the pleasure to read! I really enjoyed your blog!! Could you tell me how you made such a beautiful template (or post where you found this template?) Thanks so much!

anymommy said...

It's so true. Hunger tops the list for me and for all of my children, followed closely by being told no.

This is so honest and it put the spotlight right on something I should work harder to understand - why my kids are acting cranky, not just how it affects me.

Lynn Kellan said...

Hi "Inch of Gray." I'm relieved to hear that you suffer from grumpiness - I'm in a grumpy slump right now. It will pass...usually a long walk does the trick.

It's nice to meet you. I found you at bloggers choice awards.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I can count on my son being grumpy at the end of every school day. His trying to repress tics from TS guarantees he is exhausted. Luckily if we steer clear and let him eat and decompress he can recover his equilibrium.

My own grumpiness is usually from having too many things on my plate at once.