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A Mom Confesses: I Know That I Know Better! Why Do I Still Lose My Cool?

Sunday at 3:30pm, we’re in a surround sound of music, bells and whistles, and crowds of people yelling and screaming. The noise is deafening. Dan and I are voluntarily in a very noisy place (the casino). We need to leave at 3:30pm to be home in time for a 4pm Zoom call. But we (he) lost track of time and we were still in the very noisy place at 4pm. 

Sunday at 4pm we have a Zoom meeting to plan a summer trip with our co-travelers.

Instead, I volunteer to take the call without Dan. I walk to a quieter place that is still way too loud for a Zoom call. I abort the zoom mission and make a phone call instead. 

“Hi. We’re at a very noisy place and Dad can’t get on the phone so it will just be me. How would you feel about starting a google spreadsheet with your current research and then the rest of us will dump our suggestions in the doc and we’ll plan from there?”

“But I don’t want to be in charge of planning the trip.”

“What, I can’t hear you. Can you say that again?” to the kid who I can never hear and who deeply hates when I can’t hear them.

“I. Don’t. Want. To Be. In. Charge. Of. Planning. The. Trip.”

“Oh. No. No. That’s not what I mean. We’ll all plan. You’ll just create the google doc.”

We continued saying the same thing louder and louder but neither of us hearing each other. This might have continued for a very long time, but a second person jumped in with a very soft, gentle, kind, and conciliatory voice and said, “Mom, they don’t seem to want to start planning the trip. But you and I don’t mind planning the trip. So how about you and I plan the trip?”

We’re planning a trip to Brazil for my nephew’s wedding. Two kids and one SIL will be joining us. 

Scheduling a Zoom call is part of my very long history of being the mom who tries to anticipate all potential obstacles and account for them in advance to ensure the likeliest chance of success. 

This pattern started when my kids were little. They were more likely to tantrum when they were tired, so I planned trips to the grocery store in the morning when they had eaten and slept and were most likely to be delightful. If we went out to dinner, we would go to a restaurant that had food that every kid would like. And, of course, I chose the optimal time to ensure minimal friction. And so on. 

The downside to my hypervigilance is that when even one variable changes, which is inevitable, I get very flustered, and not in a good way.

Back to our phone conversation in the very noisy place. The call ends very badly, at least for me. I am furious. In fact, I’m mad at everyone, starting with Dan.

I picked late afternoon on Sunday for the Zoom call so that all five of us could all be on the call together. I scheduled a Zoom call so we could dig in and plan the trip. And I knew that the Zoom call needed to be in our house, on a computer and with focus. Most importantly, where I could hear the person who I can never hear.

Dan couldn’t pull himself away from the very noisy place, so the conversation began under suboptimal conditions. I knew we needed to have this conversation at home with a computer and quiet. What a jerk.

Then because of the very noisy place, I couldn’t hear the adult who hates when I can’t hear them. The conversation is bad before it begins. What a jerk.

Very reasonable second adult takes on this tone of superiority. “Mom, can I jump in with an idea?” Oh, sure reasonable adult. I might even say a showoff — Look how a calm and conciliatory adult can resolve this tension in one sentence. What a jerk.

I stewed. I went from mad to furious. And eventually made my way back to breathing normally. 

Once I reflected on the debacle, which was in fact just one conversation with some tension, I realized I was mad at myself. Nothing went as I had planned, which by now I should know is just a symptom of life. And everyone behaved predictably under those circumstances. Except I was disappointed in myself for being me in that story. 

Turns out I continue to be a work in progress. And it’s clear I will have many more opportunities to learn. Mostly because life rarely goes as planned. 

Susan Borison, mother of five, is the founder and editor of Your Teen Media. Because parenting teenagers is humbling and shouldn’t be tackled alone.

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