Yesterday afternoon we finally got our boys a new gaming console that they have been saving long and hard for. There was high excitement in the D household as the box came home and was unpacked. Sleek, shiny new technology for the house! Hooray! A recipe for happiness, right?
Wrong. At least initially.
The whole setting-up-the-console process was an utter nightmare.
Stress, Impatience, Tantrums, Tears & Anger…
Accounts had to be opened and validated and activated. Passwords and contact details had to be painstakingly entered using the annoying on-screen keyboard (and re-entered when mistakes were made). Avatars needed to be chosen (and discussed and changed and chosen again). Newly bought games had to be updated online (which takes bloody hours – not sure why when they’re brand new, but they do). More gaming accounts had to be opened and linked. Things didn’t work and had to be deleted and reloaded. Phone calls had to be made. Google was employed more than once. Instructive videos were watched on YouTube. It went on for HOURS.
There was stress, impatience, tantrums, tears & anger at various points throughout the process. Teeth were gritted. Hands were wrung. Controllers were thrown down in anger. Phrases such as,“I can’t HANDLE this!!” and “This is STUPID,” and “WHY isn’t this working???!!!” were spoken.
But none, I’m pleased to say, by me.
Good Emotional Management
I realised very early on in the process that I was feeling as wound up and angsty about getting this console up and running as my kids. My shoulders were high. I had an uncomfortable, dissatisfied feeling in my chest. I felt confused at times, impatient and incompetent. It was not much fun.
But I also realised that me yelling and throwing my hands up in frustration (or storming out of the room as my 11-year-old did a few times) wasn’t going to help matters. So I made a concerted effort to keep my voice low and steady. I took big deep breaths. I tried to help my sons with their emotional response to this tech angst and not let my own emotional response suck up all the oxygen.
I had to be able to say calmly to Mr 11, “Storming out of the room isn’t going to fix the problem,” rather than yell at him for being unhelpful and immature. I had to model good emotional management.
I’m not saying this to prove what a perfectly awesome zen mother I am. Trust me, I’m not. I can yell with the best of them. I can snap and be grumpy. And I just dealt with the aftermath of this fraught new-gaming-console-process by eating numerous crackers slathered with butter and jam. But I am proud to report that on this occasion I made a clear and conscious decision early on that I was going to work hard to keep calm.
And without a doubt I was able to pause, think, and make this decision because I am sober.
Sober Mummy Moment
Sobriety has given me many gifts. It has given me the gift of long sleep-filled nights and calm, guilt-free mornings. It has given me the gift of improved self-esteem and raised self-awareness. And slowly it is giving me the gift of better emotional management.
I’m very grateful for all of it. Almost as grateful as my boys are for their new console, which is at long last up and running perfectly.
I said quietly to Mr 11 when all was finally working as it should be, “You need to work on not losing the plot when things aren’t going well”. He nodded, understanding what I meant and acknowledged the fact with a sheepish “yes I do”.
That was a pretty proud sober mummy moment.