explorations of mindful fatherhood

You’re Being That Parent


an_angry_old_man__868197The other day, I was in a shitty mood.  One of those moods in which anything can annoy me.  There wasn’t enough half-and-half for my coffee.  My wife was using the bathroom when I needed it.  My son woke up just a little too early for me to get anything done that morning.  Wah, wah, wah.

Later that morning, we were heading out to the community pool, and my son was crazy excited. So excited that he was bouncing off the walls.  When he’s super excited, he gets wild.  Like singing at the top of his lungs, shrieking unexpectedly, and (literally) throwing himself into walls.  Some things (singing) are cute, while other things (shrieking) are not.  But no matter what he did, it all seemed to get under my skin.

We got into the car, my wife in the driver seat.  My son excitedly yelped again in the car, and I let out a dramatic sigh.

“Do you remember when you were a kid and you were just so excited about something?” My wife asked.

“Yeah,” I responded reluctantly, already knowing where she was going with this.

“Did your parents ever give you a hard time when you were just so excited?  My parents did, and it sucked.  You’re kind of being that parent right now.”

Shit.  She was right.  And yet, I was feeling stubborn and couldn’t quite accept it.  “But he’s being annoying!” I wanted to say, like I was talking about my little brother or something.

It’s just a downright bad combination if my son’s excited and I’m grumpy, because all the ways he expresses his excitement are somehow irritating to me. But what a terrible time to be irritable.  The thing is, I DO remember what it was like to be crazy excited about something, only to be yelled at by my parents for making too much noise or to be threatened with having that fun thing taken away.  Hell, I know what it’s like now as an adult to be excited about something and have someone rain on my parade.

That’s the tricky thing about being a parent. You’re not really allowed to be a crybaby or a grumpy old man.  As a kid, I felt entitled when I was in a bad mood.  “Screw everybody, I’m not feeling good so they can all go to hell.”  But as a father, my grumpy attitude has so many far reaching ramifications.  And I don’t want to be that parent.

After that much needed kick in the ass by my wife, I calmed myself down.  We got to the pool and had fun.  But, as a parent, I’m realizing that those kinds of wake-up calls are much needed doses of medicine.  When I get into a funk, I sometimes feel entitled to it. My adolescent mind thinks that others should steer clear or keep themselves in check when around me, because I’m owed that much.  But it isn’t true.  My being stuck in a bad place doesn’t mean the world should shift to meet my mood.  Once I’m able to recognize that my shitty behavior is really raining on other people’s (especially my son’s) parade, I have to force myself out of it.

Once I do force myself out of it, I sometimes realize how impermanent my moods are.  That with a slight willful shift, I can actually have a good time again.  I’m thankful for having a family.  For having a wife and son who can help me see past myself and help me recognize that it’s me who creates my own suffering from time to time.  If it weren’t for them, I’d likely turn into some rotted old man, yelling at the kids on his lawn.

Author: CJ Nigh

I am an East Coast writer with a Midwestern soul. Undead Dad is a blog about mindful fatherhood in the deadening age of hyper-technology and over-work. I also write science fiction for young adults.

24 thoughts on “You’re Being That Parent

  1. Thanks for that. Now I feel guilty about my bitchy mom moments. Grumpy old woman. Luckily for me I have teenagers and they just roll their eyes and ask if I’ve gone mental.

  2. The last line reminded me of Clint Eastwood. Cue his voice, “Get off my lawn, punk.”

  3. Excellent advice for all of us. 🙂

  4. Great post and definitely something I can relate to.

    We all need to strive to have a better check on our emotions no matter what the situation. Easier said than done most times though

  5. Wonderful post. I know exactly where you are coming from with this.

    I know I’ve got to start lightening up in a few aspects in my life myself and this is one I’ve been bad about for too long.

  6. Great advice. I hate when people rain on my parade, so I should probably try not to do it to my child.

  7. Awesome……..Just Awesome Share.I love it.Looking forward for more.Alex,Thanks.

  8. Keep calm and carry on. Love the blog. I laughed reading your blog because that’s me, sometimes.

  9. I love your wife’s approach. Very effective without being combative. I can totally relate to this. I am especially grumpy when i’m hungry. Watch out!

  10. Great post, we all need reminding of these moments – sometimes quickly and abruptly like your wife did. Snap out of it style. It’s tough always being the ‘grown up’.

  11. Thank you for sharing this post! It was a great story. I can really relate to this. There are just times when you feel like all things are going against you and you cannot do something about it which then makes you feel terrible. In times like this, I just take a step back, close my eyes and take a deep breath. It works most of the time. Anyway, thank you for sharing a good advice! I will definitely keep it in mind.

  12. Yes, yes, and yes. I often feel similarly irritable, know I have no right to impose my bad mood on others, feel especially guilty when I grump at my kids, and have difficulty snapping out of it- because no one leaves me alone long enough to adjust my attitude.

    Thanks for this.

  13. CJ–Just stumbled across your blog while indulging my ADD and looking for how to build a treehouse when I should be drafting documents and this post just couldn’t be more on-point with how I’ve been acting lately. I realized, after I recently again “rained on my (10yo) daughter’s parade” (which is really just making her feel as crappy as I do at the moment) that, “sh*t, I am actually now a bad dad”.

    The feeling of disappointment in yourself, the look of sadness in your child’s eyes (oh yeah, that’s right: they don’t see the world the same way we 40+, pissy, unhappy-with-our-career/life/time to ourselves/whatever adults do….) and the inability to stop yourself from doing it sometimes is tough to bear. I too have persistent back pain, am way grumpy when I haven’t eaten, and hate-hate-hate being “hanged on” or my arm/sleeve being pulled, so I feel your pain. All that said, when I do it, I look into her eyes, apologize deeply, and promise to try to do better because she is my heart and my world. And bless her beautiful heart, she forgives me. I also penalize myself by giving her $5 when I overreact 🙂 Should be a nice college fund in a few years….

    You’re now bookmarked–keep up the Deep Thoughts (with apologies to Jack Handey). John

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