This Year’s Energy Mash-Up

energy efficiency leadershipIt’s past 9 p.m. on a Sunday when Ella’s door flings open and out she flies down the hall and into the kitchen.

“Mom!” she shouts.

I’m standing right there at the counter, packing snacks for tomorrow’s lunches: dried apricots for the three-year-old, flat pretzels for the 9-year-old, Pirate Booty for Ella. Their favorites.

“I have two chapters I have to read right now and a summary to write!” She glares at me, accusingly.

This darling daughter of mine just waltzed in the door less than 15 minutes ago from a full day out with her friends, shopping at the mall, eating pizza, catching a movie. Before she left I casually asked about her homework. I say casually because I’m trying hard not to hover now that she’s in 7th grade. She’s old enough to be responsible for her own homework, after-school snacks, shower schedule, right? She told me it was “all fine” which I took to mean “all done.” Apparently not.

Something in me snaps. My voice explodes, filling the kitchen, bursting out the doorway into the hall where my daughter is now standing. It is deafening. It shakes the walls. It crashes through my heart, but I can’t stop it. I am yelling about lying and forgetting, about organizing and responsibility and consequences. I am blind with anger, on fire with it. She tries to stand up to me, but can’t. She ends up in tears laced with more than a little defiance.

“I hate you!” she hurls at me and runs to her room.

I am trembling. I feel a little sick. The outrage I just shot into the world reverbs back at me, sending shock through my body, stealing my breath, yanking my hair, burning my face. I am consumed. I know this is not good parenting. This isn’t even good being.

I am lost.

In the beginning of the year, I made a list of reminders for myself: say no more, say yes more, appreciate, simplify. There’s more, but none of them were really clear about what kind of energy I might want to put out into the world. Sitting there on the bottom stair while my 12-year-old sobbed in her room and my frowning husband asked me brusquely what was going on, I knew for sure that anger was not what I wanted to live with or make the people I love live with.

I suppose there are many ways I could have gone, but I’m a person who adores immediate solutions that I can make happen on my own. So I started to meditate. Ten minutes a day, then 15, now 20. For me, it’s a game changer. Breathing, visualizing, nodding in acknowledgement, then letting go. In the space I make for myself, I find patience and presence. In that calm, centered place, I am reminded that anger is not the energy that defines me most.

This year, I wrote and wrote and wrote. I wrote about acceptance and gratitude. I wrote about the good and the bad of motherhood, the power of my post-partum body, the way my growing children tug at my heart. I wrote about my marriage and what it’s like to be a late bloomer. I wrote about being afraid and feeling isolated. I wrote about the importance of compassion over judgment. A lot of good energy went into that writing and a lot of good energy came out. I have to remember that, too.

That night, losing my temper with Ella, shook me up, but it doesn’t define me. Instead, I’m a mash-up of energies, some good, some not so good, constantly sparking, flaring, fizzling out only to light up again.

This post is part of the Reverb 14 December daily writing challenge, a series of reflective writing prompts designed to help let go of 2014 and move into 2015 with intention. Today’s prompt is: What energies did you channel this year?

4 thoughts on “This Year’s Energy Mash-Up

  1. Ohhhh! I can so relate to this. Props to you for reliving the moment: I can feel how awkward and painful this must have been.
    The thing I love about this is that you sat fully in your anger and subsequent regret. But you didn’t self-flaggelate or let the moment define you. You saw it for what it was and decided to make the best of it. That would surely have to be good parenting: modelling self-compassion for your daughter.

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    1. This self-compassion thing is hard; thanks for reminding me that it’s good modeling. There were plenty of apologies, but no excuses. Taking responsibility is a big step. Making change is even bigger.

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  2. I never heard of Reverb14, and it sounds like such an excellent tool for introspection and intention. Your honesty here is fantastic. I’ve had those angry moments for sure when the kids’ behavior merited a response, but maybe not such a strong one. It always feels shameful for everyone (me and whichever kid) after. Thank you for describing that scene… you are not alone!

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    1. Thanks for reading Nina. It was a hard scene to write because it doesn’t feel good to relive it, but that’s what happened and I have to acknowledge it so I can move through it. My mom would say I’m airing too much dirty laundry — probably, yes — but not without a reason. P.S. It’s not too late to join Reverb14 if you want. The prompts are over at http://www.katmcnally.com. x

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