I didn’t sleep well last night. In fact I’m a few nights down, enough for me to be thinking I jinxed myself by saying on Motherlode last week that for the moment I’l sleeping well without “mother’s little helpers.” In part it’s our dog, who feel he needs to alert us every time something stirs upstairs or outside. Since the porcupine incident, he’s been extra wired. And in part it’s my brain, which feels it needs to alert me every time it feels nervous or regretful or anxious. All night it keeps chattering away at me. “Yo!” it says. “What are we gonna write about tomorrow? How did we do today? Are you sure? Should we rethink? Maybe we should rethink!”
What I’m rethinking is my bedtime reading. Usually I read one of my stack of buddhist style advice books, which I find calming. Why yes, Wherever I Go, There I Am! Oh, I really should Pay Attention, For Goodness Sake! I’ve been reading Mary Johnson’s memoir of her years with Mother Theresa instead, Unquenchable Thirst, and you know, I’m too engrossed. It’s too good for bedtime reading. And not at all soothing. Her struggles just crawl into my head and feed mine. It’s a fantastic book.
But at bedtime, a fantastic book is the last thing I need. So tonight we’ll just switch that back up. But the side effect of all of this sleeplessness is grumpiness, and although my grumpiness with the kids is so much milder than it once was, taking the form of gruffness rather than actual shrieking, I still end up every surly exchange feeling worse. It does not matter that they are whiny. It does not matter that they did, in fact, forget hockey sticks/sprinkle cracker crumbs everywhere/leave shoes in the hallway. I can call them on those things without bringing my evil alter ego, the Black Mood Ringleader, into play. When I let Black Mood take over, I may make my point: seriously? Underwear on the floor in the living room? Who raised you people? But I pay for it in a vicious cycle of getting grumpier and grumpier because I’m not doing anything to make anyone, including myself, feel better.
The really irritating, awful thing is that you do choose your moods. You can wallow in Black, or you can just … not. I know that. But knowing it just makes it harder, some days. If it’s not my fault and I’m just “in a bad mood” then I can wait for it to pass. But getting past it myself? Well, I’m usually glad I did–but today, at least, I’m having some trouble making it happen.