Recently in a Facebook group I’m part of, another mom posted something like this (I’m paraphrasing)
I cried when I watched Moana. When she put the heart back in Ta Fitti. That’s how I feel! Like a lava monster just aching to be the beautiful goddess I once was. The one I know I truly am. Not the angry mom I’ve become.
Great stuff right? Lots of introspection. Lots of honesty. I can really relate. But then she went on to say:
Maybe someday. Maybe someday the baby will sleep through the night. Maybe someday the kids will stop making such poor choices. Maybe someday they will behave. Maybe someday I won’t have to be always angry at someone. I just want my heart back.
Okay, put on the brakes. So now we’re waiting for the kids to let us be happy?
And she’s not alone! As moms, we all-too-often play the blame game, pointing fingers at our kids for our own bad attitude. The comments on that particular Facebook post were a whole lineup of tired, grouchy mamas agreeing “If only my kids would…”
But can I really blame the kids for what I think/feel/do?
My anger is my problem
Every time time get angry at my kids, it’s my fault. Yes, they did something they shouldn’t have. Yes, I need to teach them how to handle XYZ situation better. But yelling? Anger? That is mine. Remember, anger is a vice. Nobody can make us give in to vice. When mothering tempts us to anger, it is our job to see it as just that; a temptation.
But we need to want to change. We need to stop blaming others for our failings, and take responsibility. We need contrition. Humility.
And that’s hard! It’s so much easier to pass the blame to others.
Pray for Grace
Look, I’m in the thick of this thing too. I know it’s hard. Crazy hard. I get angry more than I’d like to admit. But it’s not because of my children. It’s not their fault. It’s because I’m not relying on God.
Our God never leaves us to face temptation alone. If we ask Him, if we humbly throw ourselves into the arms of Jesus, He will give us the grace to choose virtue instead of vice. Patience and mercy instead of anger.
Am I the only one who seems to forget to actually ask? I think about God. I think about my need for His Grace throughout the day. When I lose it with my kids, I think “Man, I need the Lord’s help to do this better.” But somehow, the actual praying is so hard to get to! Sometimes a whole day will go by, and I’ll realize that I’ve thought “I need to pray about this.” a hundred times, without ever actually speaking a word to God.
On my own strength, I’m always more likely to take the easy way out. “If only my children wouldn’t x then I wouldn’t y.”
It takes Grace to choose patience. And we have to actually ask for Grace.
Our children are not neurologically adults
Before I met my wonderful now-husband, I was in a terrible relationship. Boyfriend was always angry about something. It was all my fault. I couldn’t remember his long list of arbitrary rules. I would do or say things that he felt disrespected him. Anything. If he was angry, you better believe it was my fault.
Basically, he made me responsible for his happiness. It was an impossible task! It got to where I felt like a failure, never able to be “enough.” Always a disappointment.
And I was an adult! Can you imagine what this feels like to our children? Their immature brains can’t even control themselves, and now they are responsible for Mama’s anger?
Do your kids do dumb things? Really, incredibly, outrageously dumb things? Yep. Mine too. And you know what? It’s because they are neurologically undeveloped. Parenting is not a relationship between two adults. It’s incredibly one-sided. Getting angry about it is like getting angry about bad weather… I can fume all I like, but it won’t change a thing, and eventually the sun will come out.
The saints aren’t saints because everything in their life went smoothly
Can you imagine an early Christian martyr saying “I’d love to follow Christ. Maybe someday these Romans will stop persecuting us. Maybe someday they’ll stop being pagans. Maybe someday I won’t have to fear for my life. Then I can be a Christian.” The church would never have existed!
God didn’t put me here to do easy things. He put me here to do right things.
Even when it’s hard.
Especially when it’s hard.
So let’s try to lean into Him, moment by moment, for the Grace to choose not to be angry mamas.
Instead of just blaming our kids.