I shouted at my daughters this morning. “Brush your TEETH!” I yelled amongst other choice things, my angry voice projecting into the hot morning through our open bathroom window for all the street to hear. It sounds comical as I write, but it wasn’t at the time. Because I was angry, really really angry. And I took my anger out on a two and almost four year old.
I shouted because (it felt like) they had whined and procrastinated and ignored me a thousand little times. I shouted because I was annoyed at myself for not getting an early night, again. I shouted because I was desperately tired after a dismal broken night, because my baby was howling, my ears were ringing, and my grace tank was running on empty. I yelled at them because it was easier to do that than be a grown up, take a deep breath, or make light of it all. I shouted at them because this morning a thousand little reasons and frustrations had snowballed into an overwhelming volcano of emotions looking for an easy target. And as I shouted, I watched their faces crumple into silence. “Yes Mummy,” they mumbled as they started brushing their teeth, sort of. And while my harsh tone landed on their little hearts, a burning sense of failure screamed back at me . “You can’t hold it together”, it hissed accusingly. “Today is already a write off. You are such an Angry Mummy“.
I apologised to my daughters this morning. We stumbled down the stairs in a puddle of misplaced shoes, “I don’t WANT to wear suncream!”and bad attitude (mostly mine). But when strapping our toddler and pre-schooler into their car seats, I pushed pride aside and forced myself to make amends. Because they need me to show them that it is not ok to use emotions like anger and frustration like a weapon, that it is not ok to be anyone’s punching bag. They need me to teach them how to apologise, how to forgive and make amends, and how to move on.”I’m sorry for being angry and grumpy”, I said. “Please would you forgive Mummy?” And forgive they did, with a kiss and a cuddle and I love you. But the sense of failure lingered as I drove our eldest to nursery and headed to a local playgroup.
I forgave myself this morning. I spent the morning chatting with precious mummy friends new and old over coffee and biscuits. We talked about things like rest, cutting ourselves some slack as mothers, about enjoying our children and the true colours of love and forgiveness. And as we did, my heart started to unwind, and the morning’s tension dissipated. “I forgive you“, I told myself. “Today is not going to be a write off.”
I held my daughter close this morning. En route to our car after playgroup, my middle child abandoned her scooter, demanded a cuddle, and screamed as she soiled herself. Right there and then on the pavement, before I could do anything about it. And then my sweet girl stood with mucky pants and a bright red scooter helmet, crying inconsolably. That’s when I scooped her up and held her close. I sat on the hot pavement, instinctively rocking my dirty, hot and sweaty daughter, shushing and loving and repeating “It’s ok, it’s ok” as I gently cleaned her up and changed her clothes. And as I did, I had this overwhelming sense of a bigger picture at play. My heart and mind went back to being in the bathroom with the girls this morning, in the middle of the emotional mess I had made. “It is ok,” I heard the still but firm small voice in my heart, “I’m here. I love you too. Mistakes happen. Let’s clean this up and move on.”
Today was not a write off. Because this afternoon we laughed and played and made up for our ugly start. And my children went to bed, I hope, with happy hearts and full love tanks.
But today was most definitely a wake up call. Because today I learned that I am over tired and under rested, that I am running on empty for all sort of reasons. I learned that I need to take a step back to assess what sits beneath the anger and heated emotions, work through them, reset and move on. I remembered that anger can leave an ugly scar on someone’s heart, and I do not want to make what happened this morning a habit. I also remembered just how liberating genuine forgiveness is, and how real love covers all things, even the messiest, most unlovable parts.
I am not an Angry Mummy. I am just a Mummy who slips up and makes mistakes sometimes. But for the joy set before me, I will say my sorries, dust myself off, and try again tomorrow.
HELPFUL PARENTING RESOURCES
Should you also find yourself slipping into Angry Mummy Mode too from time to time, here are some resources* that have found extremely helpful:
- Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood: Practical Parenting from Birth to Six Years (Fay and Fay): this was an absolute parenting life saver for us when our eldest turned two and we didn’t know how to handle all the challenges that came with her pushing boundaries and testing our patience! We (try to) use its principles daily and would highly recommend it to every parent of little children.
- Loving our Kids on Purpose, Making a Heart to Heart Connection (Danny Silk): this book builds on Fay and Fay’s Love and Logic foundation, combining it with biblical principles to help parents eliminate fear as a coercion tool and empower children to take responsibility for their choices from a very young age.There is an audio version that I would highly recommend too as there are lots of useful examples that brings the whole concept to life.
- Rachel from A Mother Far From Home: “Why Am I an Angry Mom?” An easy to digest blog post that helps you work through why you might be seeing red as a parent and what to do about it.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:30 (MSG)
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