It's almost never about the kids.
Oh, it feels like it, all that noise and mess bordering on chaos some days. I stomp around, grumpy and short-tempered, trying to bite my tongue and figure out what exactly it is that's bothering me so much. They're just laughing. It's a good thing. No, it's not really the kids that I'm annoyed with.
Do you know what it was the other day? The blinds. There it was, two in the afternoon, and for some reason the blinds were still closed. It was cloudy and grey outside but even darker in here, and my mood was darker still. Until I noticed the blinds. It's amazing what light can do, driving out the unreasonable moodiness along with the dark.
Sometimes it's the clutter. A few minutes of tidying and the tightness in my chest relaxes. Our days are always more peaceful when our surroundings are in order.
Sometimes I'm hungry. Or they're hungry. Put some food in us and we're good as new.
Sometimes I'm thirsty, and I don't realize it until I'm standing in front of the fridge chugging water like I can't get enough of it. Grumpy? Not me. Not anymore.
Sometimes I just need my five-minute sanity routine. Closing myself in the bathroom, I empty my bladder, splash some water on my face, and run a brush through my hair. I somehow feel more human after this simple moment of self-care and refreshment.
Not every bit of unhappiness is so easily solved, of course, but for those general day-to-day moments of I'm-feeling-grumpy-and-I-don't-know-why, our day can be turned around in only a few minutes when I lean into my bad temper and figure out that underlying cause. And if that's true for me, how much more true is it for my kids themselves? Their own grumpiness so often has a simple underlying reason, if only I would take the time to help them dig into it and then solve it, moving on cheerfully into the rest of our day.
As I go about my week, this is the question I need to keep in mind: what is it really about? Is there something little, something simple, that is causing me to be short-tempered? Is there something I can change in five minutes to improve my mood - a few minutes of straightening up, a snack, a walk to the mailbox, something else? What can I do to let go of that grumpiness and return to parenting with joy and light-heartedness?
Because truly, that grumpy mood of mine is almost never about the kids.