Being a mom is really difficult sometimes, but it can also be a really rewarding experience. I hate to admit it, but way too often I forget all of the rewarding moments that I’ve experienced as soon as difficulty rolls around. I have such a dramatic personality that life is never in between.
Sometimes Carter pours the entire bowl of cereal on the floor. Instead of remembering all of the times Carter has enjoyed picking out his cereal or the times that he says “Thank you Mommy for getting my my favorite cereal,” I immediately ban all cereal from our home and go on a rampage about why pouring your own cereal is never EVER a good idea.
When we go to Sprouts (the most adorable Farmer’s Market in the world), I have to mentally prepare myself for what might happen if all of the kid size carts are gone. Instead of rejoicing in the fun we have when they are available, I go directly to a negative place in my mind.
I’m kind of over that.
I’m over the screaming matches.
I’m over blaming my child (who is only 4) for everything that goes wrong involving him.
I’m over not taking responsibility and making changes in my life to make our family life better.
I’m over that.
So here we go to a new phase in the Day home. A phase where I am earnestly seeking what God wants from me in order to be a wife (and mom) of noble character instead of a wife (and mom) who comes unglued when the slightest thing goes wrong.
I recognized that something needed to change about three weeks ago. We went to pick up Carter at LifeKids and got a bad report from Carter’s teacher. Furious, I took Carter to the car and lectured him. I told him I was soooo disappointed in him and he was in sooo much trouble. When we got home, Matthew handed me the keys and said, “Take Chandler to Target. I’m going to hang out with Carter.”
Um, what? I hope by “hang out” you mean drill bible verses about being kind to your friends.
He didn’t. My amazingly gentle husband prayed with Carter and discussed what happened. When I got home, we had a serious conversation about our parenting. Mostly leading by example. I lose my temper way too often and I recognized that it had to change. Change is really hard though. I followed The Orange Rhino in her pursuit to stop yelling. I tried alternative options and Matthew really helped. Things were going great until Wednesday.
On Wednesdays we sometimes go to the Farmer’s Market just down the road. This particular Wednesday there was a young lady with her grandmother selling little friendship bracelets. Carter really wanted one, so I gave in and forked over the cash for this bracelet that was likely about 99% profit and would probably be lost or broken in a few weeks. Carter took about a million hours to pick out his bracelet and finally chose a blue one (they all looked exactly the same, but whatever) and from the moment he got his hands on it, his mouth never shut asking me to tie it on. With two bags and a baby in my hand, this proved to be a little difficult, so I kept chanting right back, “When we get to the car. When we get to the car.”
Well, we got to the car. Immediately (even before I unlocked the door), I heard, “Mommy! Put my bracelet on now!” I chose to ignore it. It continued. I ignored. It continued. I ignored.
I got Chandler buckled into his seat and walked around to help Carter. He threw his bracelet on the ground, stepped on it, and crossed his arms.
Suddenly, things weren’t going so well. I yelled. I screamed. I lectured. “I just spent money on this for you… blah blah….. have patience… blah blah…. you are ungrateful… blah blah blah. YOU’RE NOT LISTENING!”
I picked up the bracelet and pushed it into the cup holder. I looked in my rearview mirror and saw the disappointed face of my four year old and my heart broke.
“Carter, do you want your bracelet?”
“No, I just don’t want it anymore.”
I defeated him. Why did I feel horrible about it?
Because it was wrong.
I no longer felt like I defeated. I felt defeated. I took Carter’s little bracelet and I tied it around my wrist.
Though I have slipped up a few times, for the most part, the yelling has come to a screeching halt. When I get so furious and my wrists clench up, I notice the tiny blue string bracelet on my right hand and remember the look of defeat on my baby’s face. Then I remember the feeling of defeat in my own heart and I decide that in that moment, it’s okay to let the cereal go. It’s okay.
And when it’s not okay, it is okay to just talk about it. Yelling is not required.