Hey, what’s your parenting style? Mine is this crazy mixture of helicopter mom/semi-psychotic lady. I love to cuddle, read to my kids, and foster their emotional development and self-esteem by instilling a high sense of self-worth while I help gently guide them through life. I’m like a gentle parent…except when I’m a crazy, fly-off-the-handle parent. Yeah, I’m still working out all the kinks.
Here’s the thing. I yell at my kids. It’s not my goal to flip out after picking up the same crap for the tenth time in one day, but it happens. I don’t want to be a raving/raging lunatic mom, but sometimes that’s exactly what happens. Afterwards I feel like a big ole loser, and even though they were wrong, I was right, and they totally brought it on themselves, after I lose my temper and scream at my kids to stop being total slobs I feel the all too familiar mom guilt. I’ll think, how is that example leading them to Christ?
Obviously I am a work in progress, but I do see things improving as I’ve prayed and worked to be better at patience, mild temperament, and voice modulation. Here’s a few things I’ve learned.
1. Realize that kids don’t listen when you yell.
I had this all wrong. I thought that since they obviously weren’t listening that perhaps they’d hear better if I turned up the volume. Nope.
It’s like a startle reaction, and immediately you will get their attention, but about 10 seconds in your voice starts to sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher. So basically you end up with a loud monologue about how no one knows how to do anything but you, a sore throat, headache, and still kids who have no idea what you want from them.
I have one child that is like a spider monkey. I have to make her stop moving, look me in the eyes, and then I can give her instructions.
2. Walk in gratitude.
This has probably been the best strategy to combat anger, frustration, and the inevitable mommy-meltdown that follows. I noticed for me it was an escalating annoyance that usually led to my outburst. I would get mad about the shredded toilet paper all over the bathroom floor I just cleaned, then I would begin to “pep-talk” myself about how amazing I was at cleaning house, and subsequently how ignorant of my efforts everyone else in residence was. Before I knew it I had talked myself into feeling very put-upon. No one cares about this crap but me! Which is likely true, but how important is that crap really? Good question.
By walking in gratitude you highlight the gifts before you, and you minimize the annoyances. You don’t sweat the small stuff. You see a princess dress thrown in the floor as a symbol of the sweet pea who wears it, not just as something else to pick up. Instead of pushing your temper to the limit by talking about your contributions, you talk yourself off the ledge by counting your blessings. There’s like a whole lot. If you’re open to that it’s pretty easy to stay in the green and hold that temper in check.
3. Become a time traveler.
Say what? I’m talking about just in your mind. Take a look around and realize it won’t always be this way. Remind yourself that in the thick of battle it’s hard to see God’s glory, but it is there. It’s great to remember they’re still little, they’re still learning, and your expectations might be a little too high.
But here’s the thing. One day they’ll be all grown up. They’ll move out. It will be so quiet and clean. I hope they’ll want to come back and visit, not stay away from the crazy, screaming, cleaning lady.
When they’re all grown I hope they can look back and have fond memories of fun things we did, and know that they were loved and cherished.
Like I said, I’m a work in progress, but I’ve found that it’s getting much better. When I feel myself getting angry, flustered, or like I’m about to pop, I take a moment and pray. I quiet my mind, heart, and clear my head. I ask myself, “is this really that big of a deal?” Usually it’s not so I proceed in a milder manner than I first desired. But here’s the thing too. If I do “mess up” at motherhood in my mind I try not to beat myself up about it. Usually if I’m mindful enough to think I’m doing a bad job then I’m probably doing pretty darn good in my kids’ eyes.
I started a while back asking my children a couple of questions at bedtime.
I’ll ask, “did you have a good day today?”
And, “what was your favorite part.”
It makes me want to cry thinking about it, but each time they will answer two things. They’ll say their favorite action such as going to the park, but they’ll always preface it by answering, “my favorite part of the day was spending time with you.”
Spending time with me. That’s what it’s all about, and at the end of the day for me I want to know that the time we spent together was filled with gratitude, not frustration. Seeing that it was… that’s my favorite part.