I never knew so much anger even existed in me until I became a mom. No one told me I would experience any of this—raising my voice in a tone I've never heard before and then feeling incredibly isolated and ashamed because of it.
There are times when I don't even recognize myself after having yelled relentlessly at my kids. It's shameful, embarrassing and humiliating but not yelling is really hard to do sometimes.
I grew up in a home where my dad struggled with anger. He yelled often and I repeatedly told myself I never wanted to be that for my kids, and yet here we are.
So I decided to make a change.
In the last year, I have tried to focus my response to my kids in high tense moments. I have been in therapy and have read books and used tools to help me in those fuming moments of anger. I've been inspired by Instagram and have done some #noyell challenges and have prayerfully and intentionally focused on my emotional response to my kids.
And I feel like I am finally seeing growth, a change.
Every single time we get in the car the kids fight over where they are going to sit, so I started telling them where they would be sitting before we even got out the door in hopes that it would help. In some ways it has helped, but not yesterday.
We were running out the door to preschool and I said, "You are behind mommy. You are the middle. You are in the back." Of course, my son did NOT want to sit in the middle and was throwing a tantrum about his seating arrangement.
"I don't want to sit in the middle!" he screamed.
The neighbors were staring at me. I got the other two buckled and calmly told him, "You can get in the car yourself or I will pick you up and put you in. It is your choice."
He chose to run. I chased. All while our neighbors were still watching.
I picked him up and tried to buckle him, but couldn't. He screamed and kicked and fought. I could feel my anxiety creeping in and wanted it all to stop. Why is it this hard to get in the car?
I stopped and told myself, "Just breathe."
Deep breath in. Deep breath out.
For me, I have had to practice deep breathing (and even removing myself) in these moments of irrational tantrums. My son was angry and continued to kick and scream, as I tried to get him buckled.
I finally told him, "I'm going to hold your legs down until you calm your body down because you're hurting me when you kick and I need to get you buckled." He eventually stopped kicking but was still screaming.
This was at least 10 minutes in and I somehow managed to stay calm the entire time. "When you are finished crying, I will buckle you in and we will head out."
I waited. And waited. And eventually, he was ready.
The old me would have responded so much differently. There would have been yelling and lots of tears from him and me; and probably a panic attack too because, for me, anxiety and fear go hand in hand.
But not yesterday. Yesterday there was progress!
Someone told me once: "Motherhood is molding us into incredible human beings. It's not just us who are molding our children. And sometimes ALL the ugly needs to come out so we can confront what needs to change. It's okay. Forgive yourself, apologize to them, tell them you love them, and next time try better and do better."
What a profound statement.
Sometimes we have to walk through hard seasons as moms so we can really grow and change. I feel like this is that season for me.
No one talks about mom anger, the rage and all the feelings that accompany it. There is so much shame and guilt in being a mom who is working on her emotional response to her kids in high tense moments. However, we often find strength in the valley. We learn and grow and become better people because of our struggles and how we choose to overcome them.
I have been in the valley of mom anger for a while, but there is such a huge reward in seeing how I am changing and growing. I am becoming a mom who can emotionally respond to her kids without yelling, and I am proud of that. Do I still struggle? Yes, but I am overcoming one day a time.