Someone asked me recently if there was anything I regretted about my mothering. Immediately I responded, “being a screaming mom.” And that’s true. So true, in fact, tears overwhelmed me at that moment making it difficult to speak.
There’s a lot of pain in that memory. Today I’m thankful because in this painful memory I now see profound personal growth.
The truth is: moms are people too. You and I make mistakes. You and I need to grow up. You and I are imperfect.
Here are 4 lessons I learned through my bad behavior:
- I screamed because I was angry at something else. It rarely had anything to do with my children. The truth is I was angry about many things even though I wanted to believe I was only responding to my children’s “bad behavior.” So when my children acted their age, I quickly lost my cool, raised my voice, and yelled at them. I yelled at them for being children. I screamed because they didn’t behave like adults. How ludicrous is that! Instead of using these times as teaching moments, I flew into a bad temper. And in the process hurt my sweet little ones.
- My children mimicked my behavior. This truth smacked me in the face when I heard my daughter yelling at her dolly because her dolly had misbehaved. Ouch! My bad behavior was mirrored by my daughter. Talk about convicting. I knew I had to change quickly.
- Moms need “time outs” too. After coming to grips with my bad behavior, I learned to put myself in a time out. First I made sure my children were safe. Then I would march myself to my room, sit on my bed, and give myself a stern talking to about my behavior. Usually, I spent time praying to my heavenly Father asking for forgiveness for my rotten attitude and temper tantrum. I learned to call my behavior what it was at that moment. After a few minutes when I’d regained my self-control and changed my attitude, I would open the door, rejoin my children, and ask for their forgiveness.
- Forgiveness and change are possible when we honestly admit our shortcomings and mistakes. I had no excuse for my screaming, no one to blame but myself. I was wrong. Once I got this through my thick head, I quickly understood that two things had to happen simultaneously: ask for forgiveness and change my behavior. Sure I asked God to forgive me. But I also had to ask my husband and my children. I had to honestly repent of my behavior, then I had to change that behavior. Isn’t this what we try to teach our children? True repentance leads to changed behavior. The good news is they all forgave me (again and again and again) while I worked hard to change my behavior.
Today I witnessed a wonderful example of healthy mothering.
The airplane was completely full. A young mom and her three kids were sitting in the row ahead of me, spanning the aisle. An elderly couple, who boarded late, couldn’t find seats together. There was one next to me and another in the row ahead. The young mom’s oldest, approximately 8 years old, quickly gave up his seat across from his mom so the elderly couple could sit together. He took the seat next to me. No one asked him to do this. Every time any adult spoke to him, he responded with respect, politeness, and kindness. This mother models good behavior for her children and I thanked her for it.
Even good moms have days when you blow it. It happens. That’s not what I’m talking about. However, if you, like me, struggle with inappropriate displays of your anger, then let today be the day you resolve to change.
From whom do you need to seek forgiveness? Find a kernel of courage and ask them to forgive you and hold you accountable for changing your behavior.
Real repentance leads to changed behavior. What is one thing you can do today to get your anger resolved and change your behavior? Will you do it?
If I can change and grow up, you can too. I believe in you.
Capture the extraordinary in the ordinary today.