As soon as the words left my mouth I could feel the sting of regret. It was instant. I could see the flash of pain and shock in her eyes. Our eyes locked long enough for me to see what I had done. My voice, my tone – they were like a dagger to her heart. Oh, the regret.
This was 8 years ago, and yet, it feels like it was yesterday. It was the day I ran hard into Jesus outside of my daughters bedroom door as I stood knocking and she refused to answer.
My bedroom sits across the hall from her room. Defeated and sick to my stomach over my quick reaction to her independent ways, her questions and her own “tone of voice,” was no justification for my own actions. Reactions.
Was I alone in this?
By the time I had five children, 8 and under, many things had changed. My waist line was shaped a little differently, my schedule was non-stop from dawn to dusk, and I was exhausted.
We don’t see the whole picture when we are in the middle of it.
But is this an excuse? Couldn’t I reign in my tongue when another mess was made, the children wouldn’t listen or pick up their toys on time? Late to church over another missing shoe, or complaints about a dinner that took me too long to prepare. And then the child that insists on carving their name onto the bathroom wall with a butter knife, finding the dog food dumped all over the floor, the legos under the toes in the middle of the night, or the whining over school work, was just about “enough.”
And, so I became the “yelling mom.” Not all of the time, for I was pretty calm by nature, but when everything added up, and one particular child happened to be present when the pile of “enough” was almost to the tipping point – well, that poor soul heard the escalation of my voice.
So, what changes when we have more than one child, we are stretched and pulled, giving and loving and re-training the “attitudes” our children are born with?
Eight years ago I was the yelling mom. I never yelled a day in my life before I had children. I barely recognized my voice any more. And neither did my children.
The deep, deep tears were fresh and falling as I sat on the floor with my back against my bed frame. I could hear my daughter’s own tears from across the hall. With my head folded between my knees I cried loud and hard out to God. I begged Him to take this away. I knew that He wanted all that was good for me. Sometimes we ask God to take away things that He truly wants us to walk through. Even if they are hard. But, this. This was ugly. Sin. And I knew He did not want me to be defined by this any more.
Making my way to my daughter’s room was a slow shuffle and talk with God. He was giving me hope in the midst of a broken heart.
Sitting in front of her that day on her bedroom floor was a lesson in humility. I could see myself for the imperfect mother that I was and am. With true childhood grace and love, she mended her heart back to mine. I poured out my remorse, my regret and my apology for speaking harshly with her.
Today, this daughter is preparing for her wedding day. She has seen the moments of failure in my motherhood, and is now one of my best right hand friends, because she has seen Christ redeem this pain.
I wish I could tell you that I woke up the next morning a new person. The truth is, God gave me hope that day.
And by His grace and strength I am not the “yelling mom,” today. If you missed the first post in this series, you can find it here: The Crazy Lunatic Yeller Mom.
This is what I learned.
1. We are all sinners. I should not be surprised that I would display my weakness and weariness in this way.
2. God died for this, to give me power, strength and victory over all through redemption. I needed to claim this.
3. Regret will only lead to change through repentance. I should never be too proud to apologize to my children and ask for their forgiveness.
4. I have the power of the written Word. I began memorizing Scripture about the tongue. About our words. About anger and about true love.
5. I learned to walk away. When I could feel the tension in a conversation with my children or a situation that I was completely bewildered by, I would walk away. If I had to leave them standing there wondering where I disappeared to, then this is exactly what I did.
6. If my child’s actions are disrespectful, challenging or disobedient and I don’t feel that I can handle the situation with the appropriate reaction, then I ask them to leave the room.
7. I began to recognize my boundaries, weaknesses and points of frustration and working through those to identify the real reason I am bothered. Is it exhaustion, selfishness, or a lack of training to my children that might be causing the pinnacle moments?
8. Yelling is not an option. My tone, reactions and awareness before I feel the frustration need to worked on daily. Daily.
9. There is no power greater than the Word of God and His authority. With His strength, prayer and memorization, I was able to find victory in this really big area of my life.
10. Little changes daily will grow into big life habits. It had to begin somewhere, and it can end some place as well. There is always hope.
You may feel as if you are the exception. No one knows your child like you do. Perhaps you are thinking that I never had a “strong-willed,” independent thinking child? You may feel that your circumstances are harder, or your child is beyond exasperation, or your just not “cut-out,” for this parenting thing.
God gave you the children and the gifts that you have because He wanted you to steward them. There is not a promise that this would ever be easy. You may have a unique situation that brings your parenting to the greatest challenges and heights that most parents may not feel. But, yelling is not the solution. Don’t give up.
Take heart dear friends. You are not alone. Learn your limits, give it to God, identify the points of frustration and work on character training with your children.
You are not alone. But, the victory can be yours.
If you would like to hear my personal struggle and victory, you can listen to this Podcast here with Heather MacFadyen, The God-Centered Mom. Also, if you find yourself in this place, perhaps this post here might help you to know you are not alone.
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, health to the bones.”
Are you walking this same path? If you found hope and encouragement here today, I would encourage you to share this post and series with as many moms as you can. Perhaps this will make it easier:
Run into the arms of Jesus, and let HIM fill the very thing you are going to turn over to Him today. And every day.