I love my daughters more than I love my own life. And yet yesterday on the way to school I yelled at them louder than I’ve maybe ever yelled about anything before.
I mean, I simply lost it.
My girls are six-and-a-half years apart. The older one, Molly, is highly sensitive while the younger one, Julia, is highly spirited. They are incredible. Just incredible. Yet some days they seem to antagonize and bicker relentlessly. Yesterday morning began great. But then Molly started antagonizing Julia in the car. She even laughed maniacally as she did it.
That’s when I freaked out.
My huge response came out of nowhere. Well, obviously that’s not true. It came from SOMEWHERE. But I certainly didn’t know it was down there, lurking in the darkness, waiting to erupt. And then the best I apology I could manage in the moment was to say I was “kind of sorry.” (How lame is that?) And so little Molly went to school wiping away tears and tiny Julia went to preschool shocked at how loud her dad could get.
All day I felt sad and embarrassed, and I missed both girls. Then Kate encouraged me to go pick up Molly early from school, which I did. We walked around a bit downtown and went out for ice cream and kombucha. It was nice. I told her I was “all the way sorry” for what had happened earlier. Then we went back home to play a board game in the quiet house. This is the game Molly chose: Sorry. And after she won, she said she was only “kind of sorry” for crushing me. (How great is that?)
Being a dad is pretty much the best thing I get to do. But it also the hardest. I want to get better at it. And part of getting better is being willing to look closer at the anger and impatience and fear concealed in the subterranean regions of my own heart.
That is difficult but important work.