Cabin Fever with Kids, Home Coping Part Nine

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I suspect that cabin fever is worst for moms. Or maybe it’s for the worst of moms and the best of moms. What? Moms already think about all the ways everyone is falling short and then we worry about remedies in our spare time.

The remedies can be rough. Sometimes the best thing you can do is give yourself a big fluffy time out.

For me, there are certain clues. If I can’t stand to look at myself in the mirror there’s a guarantee right there that later in the day I am going to become deeply annoyed with one or all of my children. I may even become annoyed with other people’s children in a bonus round.

When you are a narcissist, everything is a mirror and even when you are just a person with mild narcissistic tendencies, your kids are a fun house mirror in a way that is not always fun. The one who is too loud, the one who is too smart, the one who is too sarcastic, the one who is too polite–it doesn’t matter which one. You have already made up your mind that they are too much of something, and that something is like you.

It’s the worst kind of emotional reasoning to decide that your kids are driving you crazy. You are behind the wheel of your own sanity, crazy one. Go into your screaming shed and listen to some bird noises or put some noise cancelling on your ears and change the mental subject.

Do not let the kids know that they are getting to you. Even though they are not really getting to you, if they think they are getting to you, trying to get to you could become their new favorite game.

Complaining to other people is a coping strategy, but it’s not the best one. When someone says to me, “I just want to vent,” I can’t help but hear, “I just want to waste your time with tossing my emotional dumpster around.” Don’t get me wrong–this is wrong of me. It’s important to listen to people’s stories and to, at the very least, nod encouragingly when they share their emotional life. The problem lies in the fact that some of us have the emotional intelligence of a squirrel, and as you may have learned, complaining to squirrels gets you nowhere.

Talking about your kids like they are a swarm or a horror visited upon you is also not great for anyone. Even if you just habitually mention them in the third person in their presence you are earning all the future therapy bills that come your way. It is nearly irresistible to talk about your kids, particularly when you have no other news to natter about to your confidants. I still catch myself doing this with regularity, even though I know so much better.

Not only will you earn their therapy bills, but your kids may develop the same habit and do it with their own kids or other people’s kids. Generational self-consciousness takes those family mirrors into the crazy tunnel maze level, and do you really want to do that to your adorable grandchildren?

Even if, like me, you are near the end of the hands-on parenting years, it’s never too late to lose your composure unnecessarily. Just this week, we had a very loud disagreement that could have been instantly solved by one person walking into the next room to see the evidence in dispute.

“Have a banana.”

“That would be great, but we have no bananas.”

“Yes, we do.”

“No. We. Don’t.”



Whatever your story, don’t start with, “I love my kids, but…” What you need to keep front and center is, “I love my kids, and…”


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