The Yelling Jar

It seems that I may have given some of you the wrong impression of me as a mother. I sure would  like to think I have my stuff together for the most part, but the truth is I struggle.

I’ve written about lots of things I’ve learned so far in my life, little bits of wisdom I hope to pass on to my kids, but I think its time I come clean about one of the MANY things I haven’t figured out yet…It’s only fair so my kids won’t grow up thinking I’m a saint. HA! My kids know better than that. (Actually, Mr. Right that knows better than anyone.) I’ve learned that marriage exposes your faults and having children exposes the rest. I had no idea I was so impatient, selfish, moody etc. until I had a family. Wow. But that’s not the worst of it- deep in my  heart there is an ugly spot. A spot I keep hidden most of the time.

I could blame it on this particular time of my life that is bringing out the worst of me… I’m in the thick of it with a 5, 3 and 2 year-old. This parenting stuff is WAY harder than I thought it would be.  Its an interesting dichotomy. Beautiful and Hard.  Blissful and Brutal. The good times are absolute heaven and the bad times are…well…I wouldn’t go that far.  But here is where I lose my temper. I get SO frustrated at times that I’m even embarrassed to admit it. These children are after all- tiny little lunatics with no agenda except to play and be kids. And we play. I will give myself credit for being a fun mom. A silly mom. A creative mom. We play and laugh and love most of the time…but sometimes mommy has had enough.  After multiple (calm) pleadings with no success, I can feel it rising in my throat. I don’t want to do it but I do it anyway.

I YELL. I’m a yell-er. I’m a yell-aholic.

I am ashamed to admit it but sometimes my children drive me crazy and I unnecessarily raise my voice at them. I get their attention, but it makes me feel like crap. And then one day I read this verse:

“Fools have short fuses and explode all too quickly;

the prudent quietly shrug off insults.” -Proverbs 12:16 The Message

And I felt like I was slapped in the face. That describes me.  I “explode all too quickly”. I don’t know why I’m like this. I feel like I’m surrounded by “good” mothers who are calm and have just as many or more children that I do. They seem to brush things off WAY better than me. I can’t stand that I have such a short fuse-especially with those closest to me. My mom says that I have always been “feisty” but I know that while feisty may have been cute when I was a kid, I have found that it hasn’t done me much good as an adult.  I wish I could just snap my fingers and be the calm center I want to be for my family, but a lot of the time I’m not.

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It kills me when I hear my kids yelling at eachother. How do you discipline a child for bad behavior that they learned from you? You can’t. And I don’t believe in the “do what I say, not what I do” theory of parenting. I strongly believe that my actions speak louder so I strive to be the godly example that I have been called to be for my children. And it’s a difficult task. I even started a “yelling jar” in our house (like the swear jar in yours), and half the coins are mine. I guess you could say I am a recovering yell-aholic. I can go days at a time without yelling and then I will have a relapse.

“A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.” Proverbs 25:28

 I realize that there are two basic readers of this blog, those that are appaled by the idea of me yelling at my sweet kids and those that are empathetic. To the first group I say, “I’m sorry” and if it weren’t for confessionals of other moms like The Orange Rhino  who struggle with yelling at their kids I would feel like a total failure. (She’s actually been yell-free for over 600 days now! Go Orange Rhino!)And to the second group of you who understand my predicament and empathize with me because well…parenting is friggin’ hard I say, “Yes, parenting IS hard but I still should never yell.”  My kids being absolute lunatics may explain my yelling but it does not excuse it.

If there is a silver lining in this at all its this: There is a lot of asking for forgiveness in my house. When I do raise my voice at them I follow it quickly with an apology. “Mommy yelled didn’t she?” “Yes.” “How did that make you feel?” “Sad.” “I’m sorry I made you sad. I should never yell. I’m sorry”. “It’s ok mommy.” Smiles and hugs follow. I don’t deserve such forgiveness but my kids are amazing. Days later I’ll hear one of them apologizing to the other for something and I think, “Thank you Lord, for turning my ugly into something beautiful. Forgiveness is hard for adults but their little hearts are learning it now.”

Recently there was an awesome video going around about what kids really think of their mothers. I watched it and cried. It had been a particularly stressful day at work for me and so Keenan asked the kids, “On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being a bad mommy and 10 being a super-great mommy, What number is Mommy?” Andre, my drama king said, “1000!” Selah, my thinker, said, “11!”, and Amera said, “8”,which is just the biggest number she can say but she’s probably right. I’ll take an 8.

Despite my short-comings as a mother I know I am loved by a  perfect Heavenly Father, who parents me with grace. Who calls me to live in such proximity to Him that there starts to become a family resemblance:  Slow to Anger. Abounding in love and mercy. So, I am working on me. Or better yet, I am walking with Him so that (hopefully) by the time my kids are old enough to read this, they will say, “What?, You Mom?, I never remember you getting angry!” I hope. I pray. I put coins in the jar and ask for forgiveness from these little hearts He’s entrusted me with. And I choose to believe that He knew what He was doing when he made me their mother.

 “Are there those among you who are truly wise and understanding? Then they should show it by living right and doing good things with a gentleness that comes from wisdom.”- James 3:13

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