Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Who Decided I Was Going to be an Angry Parent?

One of my last posts was about how we are implementing positive parenting strategies, and I can honestly say that pretty much as soon as I had written that post, I felt that all of our success with Jerome seeming more peaceful, with me being able to handle him gently and positively, went out the window.

I felt more like yelling at him than ever before, and was putting him on timeout after timeout - often for things that would not have earned him a punishment of a week before. Jerome seemed confused, I felt perpetually incapable of dealing with our many altercations in a way that made me proud of myself, I was joyless. It went on like I was a complete Montessori-trainwreck for two weeks, until the lowest day when Jerome deliberately disobeyed me for what seemed the thousandth time, and I reacted out of a red-hot anger I knew to be entirely unjust. I rarely, if ever, have allowed myself to discipline him physically out of anger.

The moment passed, and there was my soapy little boy, crying in the tub, completely confused by what his mommy had done. Right there, I sat on the bathroom floor, Jerome staring at me with tear-filled eyes, and I just sobbed. I have to say, I rarely cry that way. I cry a lot in random songs, movies, happy or touching moments, but very rarely because I am defeated. It broke my heart to see how my parenting was affecting my son, our daily activities, our home. I felt out of control; I knew exactly why.

I know that my accomplishments are in direct correlation with my surrender to prayer. Ever since I became a mother, I have been praying to become more gracious with my children. I have inherently understood the need for respect but knew that it was attainable for me only through prayer. Not that I am a super angry person, generally, but I have certainly struggled with controlling my temper and being a graceful person.

So pray for graciousness I have, for peacefulness, for respectfulness to be the prevalent way I respond to my children. I know these prayers have lead me to Montessori, to feeling that positive parenting is attainable, and are the reason I was beginning to see progress. Leaving this essential detail out of my description of our positive parenting strategy felt like I was not giving credit where credit was due, but I wrote it out anyway.

And it felt very distinctly that God was demonstrating to me just what my parenting journey would feel like if he really was left out of it. I do not think I have even begun to truly relate how terribly I felt I fell flat on my face. A motherhood devoid of the grace, help, and comfort I never even realized I was receiving was devoid of the accomplishments, virtues, and strategies I had been seeing in our home.

It was also devoid of much of the joy I took in the high moments of motherhood, the joy in my sense of duty to my children and my home.

I realized I needed to stop telling myself I was defined by these weaknesses. And that I would never be able to overcome them. I realized that in a lot of ways, I was believing this so strongly that it was becoming true. As those weeks went on, as I succumbed more and more often to "natural" reactions of anger and impatience, I told myself that it was inevitable. That my toddler was being annoying and he deserved me being short and, even mean, to him.

Back up now. Who decided I was going to be an angry person, who decided I was incapable of the Montessori ideals of gentle, positive, violence-free parenting? Certainly not God. I know He led me to Montessori because this style of parenting, this kind of a home, is suited perfectly to who I am capable of being, of who He is already forming me to be, and because it is the home He desires my children to be raised in. Even with my temper, my impatience, my shortcomings as a mother, God has entrusted these children to me not because I will do okay with them, but because I am the best possible (no really, this article is short and powerful)  mother for them and for the lives He has planned for them

The beauty of this truth about myself, that I must work together with Christ to overcome this weakness in me, my temper, is that this weakness is an instrument of grace if it leads me to seek divine help. Of course, it can also have the opposite effect if I do not recognize it. Overcoming my weaknesses brings grace into our home, helps me to be the mother they need me to be, and fills our lives with ever more joy, so as 2 Corinthians says:

So this is me admitting that I struggle with my temper, that I have never liked to talk about  it, but that I want to shout it out now, because it is helping me to love Christ. Today was a Monday, and it was a good day. Yes, I lost my temper a few times, but I also took a deep breath and prayed for the Holy Spirit even more times. 

However. the very best part was how joyfully I saw my children. I mean, look at them, they are pretty stinking great if I do say so myself. 

1 comment:

  1. Olivia I absolutely love this post! Thank you for being so honest and vulnerable. It is so inspiring how you are working so hard to be the mother you know God wants you to be, and giving all the credit to God. Honestly I know that reading your blog and having you as a best friend will help me to be a better Mom. Love you!