Sunday, May 22, 2011
When I get agitated, I feel like a wasp in the heat. Something that doesn't work properly, inconsideration and rudeness are the usual culprits to push me over. I try very hard to keep my cool and correct a situation, but sometimes I get so upset I break down. I am not a screamer or thrower of things, but I have been known to swear and rant.
I remember when my girls where younger, I could get so angry at them I would want to scream. Some of my more memorable lines were "Is my head still on? Because I feel like the top of my head just blew off!!" or "Are you bleeding? No?? Is the house on fire? No??!! Then why are you interrupting me when I'm on the phone?!" I am embarrassed to say that in the heat of the moment, knowing I was about to show inexplicably politically incorrect bad form, I would ask: "Are you retarded?" Now my girls get a big kick out of imitating me, in a hysterical shrieking voice: "Jesus Murphy! What is the matter with you? Is my head still on? I swear to God, if I have to tell you one more time! You just got a $5.00 fine, Missy!" Ah yes, good times.....
I am glad to say that I don't freak out at my kids like that anymore. Oh, maybe a time or two in the last five years, like when they confessed that they figured out my computer password, or spilled a bottle of green pigment in the middle of a beige carpet. When I feel my temper rising, I try very hard to bite my tongue. I am trying to minimize the imitations of me.
The interesting thing about the word temper is that its definitions are opposite. The first meaning is anger or irritation: she has a temper, or in a fit of temper; the second is composure: she has a lovely temper, or losing one's temper. As a verb, to temper refers to the process of the adjustment of balance of hardness and elasticity - as in metal, clay or chocolate. As a transitive verb, it means to moderate or mitigate: to temper justice with mercy.
I started thinking about those dual meanings - irritation and composure. It occurred to me that I have an unusual amount of both these days. I am caught in the hormone storm of peri-menopause. One day I am the soul of peace and mercy, the next I am a shrew. I'm being heated and cooled regularly. Maybe it's the universe's way of tempering me: trying to achieve that balance of strength and flexibility. I like the thought of being prepared properly to endure the indignities of old age, the passing of loved ones, the unimaginable joy of grandchildren. It is said that old age is not for sissies or the faint of heart. If this is so, I say: Temper away!
This is not an actual picture of me, it's just what I look like on the inside....