Confessions of A Grumpy Mother
I come from a family of grumps. My own Mum probably wouldn’t mind me telling you that she can err on the side of grumpiness at times (who am I kidding? She’ll hate reading this). I remember my Granny being an incredibly fun person to be around (singing silly, incomprehensible songs from the 40’s, making baby cradles out of napkins) but she could also be quite grumpy.
It seems the older I’ve become (I’m now 40…something…mumble) the more grumpy I am. I don’t remember feeling like this when I was young or perhaps I just gave it a different name? Sadness? Feeling low? The feelings I had in my twenties (on bad days) were more often than not sad – a passive, flatlining state of mind that involved listening to copious amounts of Radiohead whilst smoking theatrically out the bedroom window. Sadness felt a bit aspirational in my twenties. It was a past-time like washing your hair or taking a bath (I was lucky enough to not suffer with proper depression in my twenties but did go through a terrible bout in my teens). It was also before the invention of the smart-phone and social media so sadness was a time to be on your own, contemplate the things that were going wrong in your life and really indulge in a good wallow (the peak of sadness arriving at 6pm on a Sunday evening when ‘Antiques Roadshow’ started and the back to work feeling came crashing down around my ears).
But now it seems I have entered a new phase. Yes of course I still get get sad but there’s more distractions now- affirmations, self-help books, online shopping and Instagram (which sometimes amplifies sadness but can also be a source of great support). Grumpiness is destructive. It can make me sabotage a whole day and say things I regret. It makes me angry. And there’s nowhere for this anger to go (I probably need to take up boxing) so I have to make do with a massive internal rant in my head or hit an inanimate object or throw something (or all three things).
On Saturday morning I got into a massive strop because my daughter wouldn’t walk to the bus stop- she wanted to go in the buggy. We never use the buggy these days. We walk. I ranted about how the buggy would stop us from sitting upstairs, about how it meant we couldn’t have ANY FUN all day, that the buggy was a pain, that I hated it, that we couldn’t ride on the escalators- I made a real meal out of it. My daughter wouldn’t relent. There is a certain rigidity to kids that gets me down. But then who am I kidding? The things that drive you mad are often your own character traits being thrown back in your face. YOU THINK YOU’RE RIGID! I’LL SHOW YOU RIGID!
Anyway I’ve discovered there are a few things that set off these grumpy feelings and I thought I’d share them with you to see if that would be cathartic (a grump shared is a grump halved and all).
Grump Number 1: Mess
Is it just me or do we now live in an environment where mess just appears from nowhere? I cleared out my bedside drawer two weeks ago but now when I go to open it, it’s wedged shut with notebooks, Kalm tablets, pens, hand cream and those tiny lego men that come in packets and and you keep losing parts of their bodies and have to toss them in the bin (in fact it’s little BITS that make me grumpy. Toys are becoming smaller and more irritating – don’t you feel?)
Number 2: Partner’s behaviours
Now this could include any number of things. My partner has a range of quirks (as I do too). Unfortunately I would say that my partner shoulders much of the intense grumpiness. He also has a range of things that are very provocative- these are: eating too fast (as if someone is going to run off with his plate and toss it into the garden before he has time to finish it), pretending to listen to you but actually doing the crossword on his IPad, and climbing into bed at night and saying ‘this is the most wonderful feeling I’ve had all day’(this makes me feel like we’re a hundred and living in a retirement home. Surely getting into bed isn’t the best thing that’s happened all day?)
Number 3: Child’s behaviours
I don’t need to go through these. You know.
Number 4: Our cats
The minute all is quiet, the cats will start making a terrible noise as if they are trying to tell me that the shed is on fire or a fox has eaten one of their ears. They also like to sink their claws into my knees.
Number 5: Myself
This is probably the BIGGEST source of grumpiness. I am aware that I should’t be grumpy. I get up in the morning and I make a big effort to shake the grumps away but they persist nonetheless. Is it genetic? There are so many people in the world who have a proper reason to be grumpy. Just thinking about my own selfishness and arrogance makes me grumpy. Am I doomed to be a crazed old woman waving a stick at the world and snarling at strangers?
How can I stop?
Well the first step is often just acknowledging the feelings. Just thinking – ‘Right you’re being a Grumpy Old Lady – shake it off.’ Then a cup of tea with sugar (in case it’s just no energy grumpiness). Maybe hide in the bedroom for ten minutes and just stare at the wall. Writing it out ( I really hope no one ever reads my diaries as they make for really grumpy reading). All in all I have to remind myself that grumpiness is temporary and will pass. Then I usually hurl my partner’s socks out the window and kick something. Oh and I like to take those tiny Lego figures and break them in half and chuck them into the bin.
And then it’s gone.