Updated: Aug 1
I used to scream at my family a lot. Frustration and anger overwhelmed me and I made sure everyone heard it. I was just a kid though. When I was an older teen, I became convicted of my bad behavior and prayed desperately for God to help me change.
Overnight God answered my prayer. I stopped screaming and instead became very, very quiet when I got angry. In nearly 20 years I can only think of one time that I screamed at a family member, and that was when I was on a diet and very hungry.
Then I got married. Learning to live together and dealing with a significant amount of change in my life caused me to temporarily forget my resolve. Screaming makes me really not like myself though, and I didn’t want my new husband to regret marrying me. I stopped again. No more yelling.
Then I had kids. Sleep-deprivation and the pull of these precious children is a constant part of my life. Dealing with a strong-willed toddler is a never-ending battle. And let me take a moment to admit that I’m unsure about the best way to parent her, so my uncertainty probably doesn’t help. I’m working on that.
The other morning we were trying to get ready for church and it was not going well. We needed to be there early because I was singing a special, but despite laying everything out the night before, getting up super-early, and being as prepared as I could think to be, we were running late. I’d actually fixed my hair for once and had makeup on, but I was sweating and about to ruin all my hard work. We should’ve walked out the door five minutes earlier, but Rick had some last-minute delay and I hadn’t even had time to run through the song that morning.
Eliana wasn’t listening to her daddy and ran away as we were finally trying to get in the car. My frustration was through the roof, thinking of how unprofessional it was to show up late when I needed to do a sound check and make it to the pre-worship meeting. Eliana received the brunt of my frustration as I opened my mouth and made sure wherever she had run off to, she HEARD me call her back. My voice rose to new levels as I screamed at her to get back here. She’d never heard me yell like that and I achieved my goal as she ran into the room with a startled look on her face.
Immediately I regretted it. That look on her face crushed me inside. I switched gears fast, praising her for coming when I called and reminding her to come when mommy or daddy call. Still shocked, she obediently nodded at me and got in the car.
I’d screamed so loud that my throat was sore and gravelly – right before I was supposed to sing. Nice.
I shocked Rick too. He couldn’t believe I’d yelled at our daughter like that. I wanted to sob. I explained to him how important it is for me to be on time when I’m responsible for something and others are waiting on me. I apologized for yelling and told him I know that’s not the right way to handle my frustration.
Eliana moved on quickly and was happily chattering away in the back, but I felt awful. I kept thinking about the words to the song I was about to sing, blessing the name of God, in contrast to my angry outburst. [Big sigh.]
I spent the morning apologizing to Eliana, hugging her, and trying to make up for it. I begged God for forgiveness as I drank hot beverages to try to soothe my throat. I felt the sting of what I’d done as I tried to deliver a smooth, beautiful song in spite of my scratchy vocal chords.
As a result of my outburst, I started working on a list of goals for motherhood. I’m sure the list will be grow and change as the children grow and change, as I grow and change. But here’s the first draft.
1. Speak quietly and calmly, responding to situations rather than reacting. If I do react negatively, calm myself quickly and apologize.
2. Read the Bible regularly and pray. Keeping my eyes on Jesus helps me to meet my other goals.
3. Greet my children with a smile – even if it’s in the middle of the night and I’m exhausted and they haven’t been sleeping. Let them know they light up my life!
4. Kiss my children and tell them I love them when they wake up in the morning and before they go to bed. Kiss them many other times throughout the day too.
5. Love their daddy and let them see it. Tell him I love him in front of them, and let them see my love for him in my eyes and actions.
6. Speak highly of their daddy to my children. Tell them how handsome, successful, wise, and strong he is. Tell them they should be like him if they can.
7. Take care of myself – go to the bathroom when I need to (seriously), brush my teeth, eat healthy meals, exercise, shower, etc. Don’t let the everyday needs of the children keep me from taking care of MY everyday needs.
8. Speak highly of our family: grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins to my children. Facilitate a love-relationship between them. They need all the love they can get. Who else will take care of them if I’m not around?
9. Encourage my children to be one another’s best friends. Teach them to work out problems and be kind. Deal with fighting and meanness swiftly and strongly.
10. Keep it simple. When they get new toys, put away an equal number of old toys. Give away or sell extras. Don’t let a bunch of crap accumulate and junk everything up. Rotate toys and books out of circulation and bring them back later. This keeps the mess at bay and keeps things interesting for them.
That’s what I have for now. I know it sounds a little nuts to make it a goal to go to the bathroom, but you wouldn’t believe how busy you get as a mom. You can forget that your child won’t suffer if you put him or her down for a few minutes and let them fuss so you don’t overtax your bladder! And even my children appreciate it when I take time to brush my teeth and put on some deodorant!
I’d love to hear your goals for motherhood/parenting! What do you struggle with? Share them in the comments section below. Maybe it’ll inspire me to modify my list.
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