It’s Not You, It’s Me. No Wait It’s You! OK Hang On, I Think It’s Me.

Don't Harsh My Groove

There are innumerable things that go into how we feel on any given day.  There’s chemistry happening in our bodies.  There are environmental factors all around us – the sun, the rain, a messy house.  There are days that mark sad and happy occasions.  Sometimes there is just something absolutely unnameable that influences how we feel.  You know those days – where no one can do right by you, including yourself.  Or when you feel like the universe is conspiring in your favor – and no one can do any wrong.

So I was having an “off” day not too long ago.  Couldn’t put my finger on it but I definitely felt an edge.  I was bugged about being late, bugged about not knowing exactly how to navigate to my way to where I was going, bugged that I was being grumpy on such a pretty day.  Roan chose this time to ask me the same question about one million times, (ok ok maybe it was only three.  Could have been two) to which the answer was “No.”  I then snapped before he could push the question out of his mouth out one more time – and said in a calm, quiet but very very stern tone, “Roan.  Stop.  Please.”  And it wasn’t a nice “please” more like a “Bitch, Puh-leeeez“.   Also, not what you would consider a blinding rage, but the words were spoken with the tone that every child instinctively knows means, “I am going to become a very bad mommy if you cross me now.”

And then Roan’s eyes filled with tears.  And then I wanted to crumble into a million mean-mom pieces because I knew: I was totally out of line.  I made quick work of apologizing to him, and told him that I make mistakes!  Surprise!  And this was one of them!  Yay, a Learning Opportunity!  Roan bounced back and was right as rain within 30 seconds.  But I still feel guilty.  And let me clarify – this was around two months ago.

It’s not that I don’t allow myself space to screw up.  I’m self-aware enough to know that I need puh-len-ty of space for screwing up.  I’m a mess a lot of the time.  But I just can usually divert my bad behavior to a better target (Read: my husband Anson.  Read: that’s just real talk.  Read: It’s called marriage.  Read: don’t kid yourself you’re no different.)  When Roan gets the wrong end of my bad mood I just feel well…bad.  Apparently the shelf life on that extends past two months, awesome.

My question to my people is this: when you are having a bad day or you are in a bad mood, how do you differentiate between it being you or it being them?  And if you can figure out that it’s actually yourself, how do you keep it in check?

16 thoughts on “It’s Not You, It’s Me. No Wait It’s You! OK Hang On, I Think It’s Me.

  1. I totally know what you’re talking about here. The worst is when you know you’re wrong, but cannot help but staying in the argument. Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting some “alone” time to regroup. I’d say no matter who you are, you’re going to have bad days where you’re not a good wife, mother or friend. The trick is to surround yourself with people who will stick around anyway. They have those days too!

  2. I don’t know, I just let them know.

    If it’s about them, I tell them. If it’s about me, I tell them. In the latter, they usually give space and let me rage my own battle. In the first case, I tell them they’re being dickheads and we try to work it out from there.

    Also, I’m not a parent, so I’m just telling how this goes with my closest friends, I guess it would a bit different with a child.

    Mainly I just wanted to comment because I like your blog and your writing, and haven’t left a comment here before.

  3. You mean, it’s Well. ahem. I’m just going to have to think about that one. 😉

    I try to take a minute (or week or month) to regroup mentally no matter what. If someone else is getting to me that much, it’s still my problem. If I’m in good headspace, no one can get to me. Trust me, if I’m the problem, I know it and am doing my verybest to not be such a beyotch.

  4. If I get rubbed the wrong way by 2 or more completely separate people and situations, then I figure it is me. If I get rubbed the wrong way by the same person several times in a row, I figure it is them!

  5. Emily – as luck would have it, I’ve contractually obligated my family and friends to stick around even when I’m awful. This has come in handy more than once.

    Karri – Thanks for reading! I see you’re from Finland – my brother lived there for a while. So glad to hear from you!

    Danielle – I know right? How could it not be all about me (you)? Unfair. I think you’re right that the trick is to regroup. Taking some time to sit in your own headspace will usually do the trick. But that trying not to be a beyotch? That’s hard stuff.

    Kristi – Oh, I love a concrete approach like that! You’re totally speaking my language.

  6. Gee Jodi- hearing that you torture yourself over a harsh “puh-leez” makes me feel like an evil, cold-hearted wench. You’ve always been nicer than me. Bah.

    Everyone in my fam has those days (I’ve had more than my share). Yelling happens, then space, then sometimes tears, then lots and lots of love and apologizing from everyone. I’m getting better at being able to see the mood coming and warn everyone to take cover and not take it personally, then try to keep my mouth shut. When my kids wake up in a mood, I force them to take some time to readjust their attitudes. I figure most incidents spring from a combo of thoughtlessness and irritability….with varying degrees of grumpiness, fear, pushiness, etc. contributed by everyone involved. No way to sort it all out. I try to apologize right off- even when I don’t think it’s my fault. I want my kids to learn how to tend their different moods, accept where other people are in life, and always practice forgiveness for self & others. I’ll let you know how it worked out for us in 20 years 🙂

    I’m just trying to be nicer like you.

  7. LeLaLu – Oh no you didn’t…Me?? Nice?? What about the supertuff chick in the leather jaket smoking cloves from the spice rack in the kitchen because she is so BAD. Uh. Ok. Well. Moving on.

    My lesson from you is to learn to apologize right away. Comes easily with my son, not so easily with my husband. He likely is the one that deserves it more. Ok, let’s check in on this in 20 years. Main Street, GJ? 2:00 pm work for you?

  8. I can honestly say not only did this same scene play out not two hours ago in front of a Whole Foods parking lot filled with angry people but it was undoubtedly my fault. Most of the time it is. But I am trying harder each day to breath, get down on one knee and try to kiss an answer out of him as to why he must ask the same question three to one thousand times in a voice only mother could love. And I love the shit out of it but still…

    On another note, I just saw your comment on my blog post about dog poop and cannot tell you how you may have made my month. No, actually you did. The love goes both ways. I have been a huge fan of your writing for some time so your kind words and enthusiasm made me feel, to put it mildly, cool. Thanks for that and thanks for always hitting motherhood right on the head.


  9. OK – I’ve waited a couple of hours to post this reply. I’m in a good mood today. I’m also a dad, not a mom, and my kids are older (17 and 20) so maybe that colors it as well, but I just don’t see anything wrong with sternly telling a 6-year-old to stop asking for the same thing that you’ve already said ‘no’ to more than once. You’re going to make your kids cry. It’s what they do. Obviously you love Roan, and I’m positive he knows it. All I’m saying is that maybe he needs to not think that he can make you come all undone with a few tears.

  10. Well, you SCARED me. The last time you started out a post with “It’s not you, it’s me” you disappeared and I didn’t find you again for a LONG time…years! Meantime lots of the people I started following through your blog fell away (or died! Muze Monkey…I just wasn’t prepared for THAT), and I had been blogless for quite awhile when I found you again. So don’t give an old woman heart failure, k? lol

    As to being a vortex of negativity sometimes…yep, me too. I’m having the privilege (blessing!) of participating in the care and feeding of four of my five grandkids…and the youngest (7) will ask me the same thing 10,000 times while I murmur “hmmm” absently and then suddenly I’m shrieking…”NO! And don’t ASK me AGAIN!” while people look at me as if I’m the wicked witch, inviting Gretel to step into the oven and see how it fits. And then, I do what you do…I tell her I’m sorry. I tell her I love her. I tell her my troubles (she doesn’t care what they are…the important thing is I’m taking to her) and then the sun comes out again and on we go, as she forgets and asks me yet again. It’s all part of the game, sweetheart. The stuff that seems so awful to YOU doesn’t last with them. When Roan is all grown up, he’ll be talking about the time the lights went out after the big snowstorm, not telling his analyst how you barked at him at the grocery store. I think the most important thing we can tell our kids is “I’m human. I screw up. I feel sorry when I do, and I will always love you no matter what”. Give them that, and you’ve given them what they need.

    Now…no more you-me, k?

  11. Dotty – Thank you so much for both liking me (what can I say, I like to be liked!) and also having the same problems as me. This is what I look for in cyberfriendship!

    Berry – Well I believe that dads love their kids every bit as much as moms do, and you love your older kids just as much as I love my younger one. You’ve hit on something pretty important: there will be bumps, and we’ve got to learn to get over them. There was probably nothing wrong REALLY with what I did, but I felt there was something wrong with how intense I was over such a little thing. But yeh yeh yeh. Dangit. You’re right. Thanks for writing in!

    Nana – I love that you know me from my Errorism days. I think you may be the only one. I actually forgot that I ended my old blog with that title….sorry for the false alarm! And you know – I had no idea about Muze Monkey. So sad. That woman was so so sweet and kind and all love. Honestly – I thought you were her when I first saw you here. You have that same kindness.

    Taking care of four grandkids – that’s something special. I love your approach and belief that they’ll hold on to the good things, not the bad. I hope that’s true. Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting. Great to have you here.

  12. We are so fortunate that our children have fleeting memories. I don’t remember the times my own mother made me cry. I remember my childhood, for the most part, as a whole entity, not moment by moment. The moments I do remember, for the most part are good ones (Like AMAZING trips to disneyland). You also, will probably not remember this occasion in a year, 2 years.. except of course, now it is documented in blogland forever.. but regardless that’s what’s so special about children and memory. He will remember that you loved him.. and disneyland.. and ice cream.

  13. i spend tons of time trying not to be pre occupied with my grown up stuff so as not to snap at my kids, and, of course give them my undivided loving patient smiling kind attention (heehee)….. but lets face it we are human and kids love a good apology. i have made plenty.

    looking back my mom did snap at times(a single working mom in the 70s, me a latch key kid with an annoying little brother- whom i now adore) i remember and try to do better but i love her and how hard she worked for us, there was no time for her to worry about the things i am lucky to be able to mull over.

    oh and just a side note of pride. annabel told me just the day before yesterday that she is “really glad she got me for a mom and not some other mom”.

  14. While motherhood had shown me I had more patience than I ever knew possible, surrender and forgiving myself has not come easy.

    Did I ever tell you about the time I impatiently shouted at G (in a real staccato, fire-breathing way), “STOP IT! WE ARE HAPPY PEOPLE! POSITIVE. HAPPY. PEOPLE. GET IT?”

    Another thing from Mary Karr’s recent memoir, Lit, “Why is traffic always other people?”

  15. I have four kids, two boys and two girls and I love them all the same. There’s no difference between them, just a couple of years jajaja

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