It’s Not Their Fault, It’s Mine

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToday, our septic system backed up into the basement and there was yucky water all over the floor. I discovered the mess when I was getting the kids ready to go to the park. I went downstairs to get a pair of pants that I knew were in the dryer from a few days ago, and as soon as I opened the door to the basement and saw water at the bottom of the stairs, my heart sank.

As my heart sank, I realized that I had two options for what to do next. One option was to tell the kids that we were not going anywhere until I could clean up the mess in the basement, which would take about an hour or two. You can pretty much imagine how well that option would sit with two little boys who are 15 months old and three and a half years old. The other option was to set the mess aside for a while, and take the kids to get lunch and go to the park as we had planned. Who am I kidding, not only was the second option more appealing for the kids, it was more appealing for me, too.

Now that I am sitting here writing this, I can say that although I occasionally thought about the messy basement and the messy house that we had left behind, I was largely able to enjoy myself. We had a great time for a couple of hours, and then I decided that it was time to go back to reality.

When we got home, I was instantly reminded of how difficult it is to clean yucky water out of a basement while caring for small children. Of course, the boys were really not being all that bad; they were just being kids, doing what kids do. I, on the other hand was stressed to the max and unhappy about cleaning up a wet, yucky mess. Unfortunately, I allowed my poopy situation to get the best of me, and I snapped at the kids a few times. When I was not snapping directly at them, I was muttering and sputtering about the situation.

The lesson that I have learned from today is that often when I get upset at my kids, it’s not really because of anything that they did. The kids did nothing to cause the mess in the basement. The problem was in how I handled the stress of the mess. Armed with this knowledge, I plan to check in with myself when I sense that I am getting tense or irritated. I will ask myself whether the issue really is the kids, or whether it’s me. If it is me, which it probably be most of the time, I will then ask myself what I need to do in order to get rid of the tension so that I can do it and get back to enjoying things.

Photo by mconnors on