You might not know this about me, but I get frustrated frequently. Not with my job, or marriage, or even other people, but with small stuff. Like when one-year-old Ravi throws his food on the floor for the 100th night in a row. Like when something breaks in the house and it becomes yet another thing to do on my list. Like when I forget to set a reminder about something important.

I feel like Rachel is always calm when frustrating things happen. She just goes with the flow. On the other hand, I grit my teeth and shake my head in disappointment and am known to say in hushed tones under my breath at least one of the following:

“Gahhhhh!!!”

“Blast!!!!”

“Dangit!!!!”

“Frickety frack!!!”

“RAGE!!!!!!”

I feel like I should be commended that I never raise my voice in doing this, but nope, none of this is commendable. And I’ve written about how this can negatively affect Rachel, but now I am seeing it affect my three-year-old Maya.

And now I am so frustrated at myself about getting so frustrated about everything else.

Recently, Rachel and I have noticed that whenever Maya tries to do something new – and struggles – she collapses into a sobbing mess on the floor. This happened earlier in the week when she was trying to draw a few letters of the alphabet on a sheet of paper. It happened yesterday when I was trying to teach her how to slide on the tile floor in slippery socks. This is not good. We want her to have grit, resilience, moxie, and reflect all of those positive psychology parenting buzzwords everyone loves these days. We want her to realize that many things are not going to come easily and that she needs to apply what Daniel Tiger tries to convey in one of his episodes: “Just keep trying, you’ll get beh-heh-ter!”

I blame myself.

I am convinced she sees how I get frustrated with small things, and has learned that dramatic emotional outbursts are a seemingly appropriate way to deal with annoyances or irritations or struggles. I’ve normalized it, and her breaking down in tears and screams is her equivalent.

I am convinced she sees how I get frustrated with small things, and has learned that dramatic emotional outbursts are a seemingly appropriate way to deal with annoyances or irritations or struggles. I’ve normalized it, and her breaking down in tears and screams is her equivalent.

When she was one and two, I thought to myself, ‘dang Sameer, you really need to work on this character flaw.’ But then I consoled myself by saying, ‘It’s okay, Maya’s still so young, she won’t remember any of this, you have time to work out these dysfunctions.’

Well, she’s three now. And I’m out of time. She remembers EVERYTHING.

<SIGH>

I’ve tried to fix myself with sheer will power. And self-control. It hasn’t worked – at least long-term. I’ve made a bit of progress but then I’ve regressed.

I know with other struggles, I’ve turned them over to God completely because I just wanted to be done with them. I’ve done this with the wrong girls, with the desire to be noticed, with codependency, with unhealthy crutches in my life, and more. But I’ve held onto this dysfunction and been very hesitant to surrender it. Why????

I think I hold tight to my problematic response to frustration because it lets me feel something primal and raw. It makes me feel alive. It fires me up. It puts a chip on my shoulder. It reminds me of the constancy of pain and the randomness of life and the injustice in this world, and steels my jaw to deal with it.

It’s no lie that the vast, vast majority of life is routine and responsibility and duty – despite what we see on everyone’s social media feeds. It’s good that I want to feel alive, but just like being a part of Fight Club isn’t the healthiest idea, neither is raging under my breath when I’m irritated at yet another inconvenience.

I shouldn’t need a chip on my shoulder to feel alive, or to rise up and do what I need to do each day. That’s just…an immature mentality. And it doesn’t honor God at all.

I feel like I’m at one of those existential crossroads. It really does matter how I’m motivated to action. It really does matter how I interpret – and respond to – various small exasperations of the day. It mattered when I lived by myself for a decade, but it matters so much more now that my family looks to me to set a standard.

I feel like I’m at one of those existential crossroads. It really does matter how I’m motivated to action. It really does matter how I interpret – and respond to – various small exasperations of the day. It mattered when I lived by myself for a decade, but it matters so much more now that my family looks to me to set a standard.

For the next couple of weeks to end this year, I’m going to surrender this completely over to God and see what happens. And constantly ask the Holy Spirit inside of me to take over my perspective and response. To be honest, I fear I’ll become weak and lose my edge and nothing will emotionally ignite me anymore. In my head, that seems irrational and ridiculous, but I still fear it.

But I’m doing this. It’s time. I can’t stand this about me. Stay tuned.

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