By Heather O.
I yelled at my son yesterday. And not just the hollering, “Hey, stop it” type yell. I unleashed all the fury of the pushed to the edge, over the top annoyed, sleep deprived mamma that I am.
He had been on my nerves all day, bugging me the way only bored, tired of summer 5 year olds can. All evening he had whined, whined, whined, mostly about food. He didn’t like the snack I offered before dinner. He made me pick out each and every bit of tomato in the chili we had for dinner, and then refused to eat what was left. So of course, when bedtime came around, he was hungry, but balked at the crackers and cheese DH made for him, saying that the cheese was DISGUSTING and that he was NOT EATING IT!
I lost it. I was holding a squirming, fussing, hungry Little Sister, and I just couldn’t take them both at once. I told my son to go to bed, that I was sick and tired of his whining. That sounds innocuous enough, but I said it basically at the top of my lungs.
DH came running as J crumpled to the floor in tears. He stood between us, a barrier between me and my son.
DH hates it when I yell at my child. Really, really, really hates it. And it’s not just because he likes to have a peaceful home. He worries that someday, I might lose control completely and do something that everybody regrets.
It’s a fear that I think every mother shares, that someday, the demands made on our time, our bodies, our sleep, and our personal sacrifices will push us to the point of no return. Andrea Yates is a horrifying tale, but I once read an article written by a mother of 5 who said it’s all the more horrifying because every mother fears she, too, could be capable of such atrocities toward her children. Childless at the time, I wondered if what she said was true. Now I know it is.
DH and I had a long talk last night about anger, and losing control. I assured him that I wouldn’t lose control with my children, not because I’m not capable of it, but because over the last 5 years, I have learned some lessons about mothering, myself, and certain triggers I can avoid.
I have discovered a child won’t die if I let her scream in her crib while I feed myself. Shockingly, she will be calmed sooner and easier if I talk to her in a soothing tone, with my own stomach full, than if I try to calm her with agitated boucing because my own stomach is growling. Food. It’s a drug. I recognize it, and use it.
Also, I have discovered a child won’t die if I let him scream in his own room, in a crib or an infant seat, while I collect and calm myself. Again, the extra screaming is worth it for him to be calmed sooner by a relaxed mother than a mother strung up and agitated.
For me, it is vital to identify certain triggers and solve my own problems before I solve my children’s, so I can be a better mother. Last night, I knew I was on the edge of losing it. Instead of leaving my son (or my daughter, for that matter) with DH, I tried to focus on both of them at once, and blew it. I tried to manage everything, and ended up managing nothing.
That’s something else I’ve learned. Don’t try to do it all, or at least not all at once.
As mothers, we hold huge responsibilities to our children, to our husbands, and to our Heavenly Father to keep peace in our homes and raise children along the paths of righteousness. It’s a big job, and we need to do it without losing our cool. Because nobody wants to do something to her children that in the end she would woefully regret.
What are some of your triggers, and what are some things you do to keep yourself in control?