Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Anger (01/24/05)
TITLE: "Mean Mad Mommy!"
By Donna Surgenor Reames
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"MEAN MAD MOMMY!" Silence. "MEAN MAD MOMMY!!!" More silence. In three of her five minutes for time-out, she managed to utter her angry mantra seven or eight times. I stayed quiet, working on my computer at my desk nearby. We'd been through this before and I knew, from experience, that silence was my only hope. Arguing back, defending myself, correcting her...all only served one futile purpose: to make her even angrier and to widen the chasm between us.
When the timer bell went off, letting both of us know that her five minutes was up, my daughter stood up stiffly and looked over at me, waiting for me to say she could go back to playing. I nodded, smiling at her and then told her that I love her.
"I want you to know what is acceptable and what is not," I reminded her gently. "That is why you have to go to time-out when you do things that are not acceptable."
A sudden smile broke through her stoniness and my girl ran to me. Flinging her arms around my neck, she hugged my hard and whispered in my ear, "I know, Mommy. I love you. You're really not a mean mad mommy!"
I wish I could say that every time-out at our house has looked just like this one, which happened just this weekend. Unfortunately, there have been times over the last 11 years when Caroline's "mean mad mommy" description would have very accurately fit me. I'm ashamed to say that I have: yelled, screamed, fussed, nagged, ignored and argued with each of my three girls over the years. I've thrown temper tantrums of my own and have been unfair, unwise and uncertain in disciplining my precious children.
For a long time I lived in guilt because of my own quick temper and lack of patience. And then one day I found a book called "She's Gonna Blow!" by a writer named Ruth Barnhill (I think! I can't remember her name right now!") about Christian moms who struggle with anger issues.
Thank GOD for this writer, for her honesty and openness and her willingness to be vulnerable. She writes about how Christian moms can deal with their anger in positive, loving ways...but even more helpful, she shares God's grace in helping us deal with a very real problem that happens in more Christian families than we realize.
I've not been an abusive mom to my sweet girls. I love them dearly and appreciate the honor of being their mom. But I've made mistakes along the way and it's comforting to know that I'm still an okay mom...and that it's okay to ask for help now and then.
Now, when I am tempted to lose my cool, I think of Barnhill's book and I try some of her techniques. I will take my own time-outs. I will call someone. I will pray in the bathroom. I will hold my child close. But I won't succumb to the feelings of inadequacy that sometimes act to make the situation even worse: feeling like I'm a lousy, hopeless mom used to make it even tougher for me to step back and exercise a little self-control. Now, in embracing my humanness, I am able to face the weakness head-on and go straight to God about it. I pray every morning for grace to make it through the day and to be a loving, patient mom. I pray because I know, in advance, that it's an honest, real struggle for me at times...and that's okay. I don't have to hide or deny: I can just be real. Sometimes I get angry and I understand why my little girl thinks I'm a mean, mad Mommy. But, thanks to the encouragement of folks like Barnhill, those times are fewer and farther in between.
Be angry and sin not. I may not ever be able to stop being angry altogether, but with God's help, I can handle it the way a Christian mama should: with patience, love and grace.
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