None of us go into parenting hoping to be an angry mom. Not many of us can believe, when we're rocking our sweet precious newborn that they could ever do anything to make us completely loose our cool with them. We've all heard or seen those parent's at Walmart screaming at their kids and we've all thought "never me. I'm not gonna be that mom" (I could write an entire post about "I'm not gonna be that mom" things I've said and later regretted, but I won't bore you with that, now) :) But, somehow each of us loose it. The sleepless nights catch up, the constant craziness gets to us, the mess begins to takes its toll on our sanity and we just loose it! You know what I mean- the irrational screaming over who left the tiny barbie shoe in the kitchen for mom to step on, the gritted teeth use of the full name to get a child's attention, the huff of irritation when your son had the 15th potty accident on the floor, the desire to punch a hole through the cabinet door after your daughter spilled an entire gallon of milk on the floor or maybe you just wished you could take each plate very carefully out of your cupboard and throw them against the wall in the garage just to watch them shatter and feel a little relief from all the pent up anger and irritation in your heart...I think anger manifests itself in so many different ways, but I don't think there's a mom out there who hasn't experienced it. I always said I didn't want to be an angry mom. I always said that I wanted to deal gently and lovingly towards each of my children - all the time, even when I was mad at or upset with them. I thought, when Hailey was a baby, that I was doing a good job. I thought that just because I didn't get angry when she cried all the time or irritated with her when I had to get up in the middle of the night that I had somehow managed to conquer the "angry mom syndrome" in my life. What a naive woman I was, because, once again, God was laughing at me. I had no idea, then, that in a few short years I would read Philippians 4:5 and be incredibly convicted about my anger towards my children. You see, I can justify so much in my mind, but when confronted with the truth I had to face the facts- I have not been dealing with my children very gently.
Philippians 4:5 says, "Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand" and that verse cut me to the quick. Maybe it's because the day before I had yelled at Hailey and saw her spirit get crushed...maybe it's because I now have a little boy who is going on 2 and testing me at every moment...maybe because I have 4 kids and am getting nervous about the other 2 getting older and starting to talk back and fight and get into trouble...maybe because I know that the chaos that's swirling around me really isn't going to get "better"...whatever the reason, when I read the commentary on this verse I realized that I needed a change in my heart and my life- when it comes to my children. I don't ever want to get to the point where I am so bitter that I start to wish they had a child just like them, to somehow get back at them. I never want to get to the point where my kids say, "oh, yeah, my mom yelled a lot". I never want them to have a hard time understanding that God's love is unconditional and that God doesn't keep a record of wrongs, because their mom always did. I want to get a hold of my "angry mom" tendencies when they're young and the infractions are small so that someday- when the infractions are big and the stakes are a lot higher I deal graciously with them.
I have a John MacArthur study Bible and this is a paraphrase of what he had to say about these verses: God encompasses us with His presence. Therefore, we need to treat others with mercy and leniency and gracious humility. We need to act with generosity towards and contentment with each person we come into contact with.
In my mind I envisioned God in my house...and asked myself- would I still behave like this with my kids if He were really, truly standing in this room with me?? I had to answer NO! And, that hurt me. I love my kids- I love them more than life itself and I can't even think about hurting them or wounding them on purpose without tears popping into my eyes- so why would I let my parenting be ruled by irritation and frustration? The answer may lie in reading new parenting books, working harder on potty training Jackson, getting on top of my kids the first time, or making my babies cry themselves out at night...but, I don't think it does. I think the answer lies in my heart. You see, all those things are temporary and are going to be replaced by other things- bigger things- and if my heart hasn't learned to deal with my kids in a gentle way then I'm not going to handle the bigger challenges any better. One of my favorite verses is Colossians 3:15 and it says: "and let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts" and that is precisely what I have been trying to do- let my heart be at peace, regardless of what my circumstances around me look like. I can guarantee that my circumstances look anything but peaceful, if you were to see me in the store or on my way into the gym, or even if you were to stop by our house at any given moment, but I hope and pray that as I grow and mature the times where there isn't peace in my heart will become less and less! Today is the perfect example...I needed to go to the store and buy some fels naptha to make laundry soap, because I was out and I forgot to pick some up while grocery shopping last Friday. Well, Korey was working, so I decided to pack up all 4 kids and head out, so I could do some laundry this afternoon. All was going smoothly and as well as it can with 4 kids and 1 mom in Target- until I realized that they don't carry the soap, anymore. Then the irritation set in...we finally picked up some other laundry soap and headed to the check out where Jack proceeded to throw a HUGE fit about the fact that he wanted to put his ball up on the belt to get "checked" and instead I asked Hailey to...irritation started growing. Then, we headed out the door, ball in tow, and Jack refused to hold Hailey's hand...irritation creeping higher and higher. Then, we get out to the car, everyone buckled in and Maelle starts screaming bloody murder and won't take her bottle...irritation on its way up. Then, Jackson has a small accident in his carseat and says he still has to go and Hailey says she has to, also...I hate to admit, but I almost lost it. I wasn't sure if I should cry or pound the pavement in irritation! I grabbed both carseats and both kiddos and set off back into Target, all the while Jack was crying about having wet shorts. As we reached the bathroom- God got a hold of my heart. (who knew that the bathroom at Target would be a great place to meet God ;)) In that moment I realized that I had 2 options- 1 would be to continue my little tirade and possibly even wound my children's hearts with my unkind words and looks and irritating little huffs or 2 would be to get it together- realize that life happens and consider myself thankful that at least Maysen wasn't screaming, also, and Hailey hadn't had an accident! Thankfully, in His graciousness, God brought me to the place where #2 was the option I chose and as we set off back to the car, we were able to play and laugh about trying it again and when Jackson threw a huge fit about not holding Hailey's hand I was able to get down on his level, talk him through it and set off to the car without any major catstrophes. We were even able to drop some clothes off at a new mom of twins house and then had to make an emergency stop at a friend's for more potty breaks, but since God had got a hold of my heart and my mind, earlier, we were able to have a "nice" little chat and a visit and I wasn't all irritated and huffy about my life!! I'm so thankful that God doesn't allow this angry mom to stay in the same spot. I'm so glad that He is getting a hold of me and refining me and doing what it takes to bring me around more and more to His way of thinking each and every day!! If you think about it, or have time, would you pray for me or even ask me how I'm doing with this. I know it's not as if I'll never be angry again or that I will somehow be cured from my angry attitude- I just want to keep striving and keep moving towards dealing with my children with gentleness in each and every situation!!