I try to bring an awareness to my irritable mood and notice the little things around me that I am grateful for (a dramatic cloud, a perfectly shaped nutshell or autumn-colored leaf, a friendly mama to chat with at the park, the wind playing through mussed-up little girl hair, etc). It doesn't make the moodiness go away, but it makes it easier to sit with, without taking it out on others or feeling guilty about myself.
I'm quick to apologize if I'm being rude to any of the girls, and they've been sweet to me. I told Ayla in a very gruff voice today, "Don't. Touch. My. Armpit!"
She just looked at me and said, "Do you need a kissy?"
Sylvia and I often watch nature documentaries in the evening as we're winding down in bed. She loves these and often has a running commentary along the lines of... "What does 'occurs' mean? That slightly bigger ant must be the mama one. I didn't know anteaters had tails. If I was a leaf-cutter ant and a predator was after me and I was carrying a leaf, I would just hide under the leaf. Smart, huh, Mama? I know what 'benefit' means, it's like a concert to raise money. I just saw a shell that looked like the crest on a corythosaurus. (She loves dinos.) I know ants can carry, like, 10 times their own size. Oh, that light green is so pretty, and if a predator was after it, that iguana could blend in with the trees." This, with hardly a breath in between, (during Encounter Earth: Rainforest) is typical and I've long ago decided that subtitles are indispensable if I actually want to know what the narrator is saying.
Half-asleep, irritation swelling, I decided to pay more attention, not less, not snapping, "please. be. quiet." just letting it wash over me, and perception shifted. I am lucky to have this bright, energetic, intensely inquisitive girl sharing her every thought with me. This won't always be the case. It's these little moments (added up) that make up our shared lives.
the wonder of milkweed seeds released into the wind
The more I pull away in irritation, the greater the neediness they express, the more irritable I feel . . . .
This cycle can be interrupted by moving closer, physically and emotionally, not as a martyr ("fine, I'll give even more than I have"), but as a seeker of awareness, of grace and gratitude. I find that when I get a 2-year-old kissy for my effort, the strain is lessened and my mood really does start to melt away.
I'll get enough sleep again one of these days, and the girls are slowly, but steadily growing. I will not have a 2, 5, and 9 year old forever. Some day they will be 12, 15, and 19 and I will know that I didn't miss out on giving my best effort at nurturing a relationship that can withstand hard times and bad moods.