I sat beside her at the public swimming pool, her little ones in the shallow wearing water wings, mine canon-balling off the high dive. We were wading into the metaphorical deep-end ourselves, talking about the hard stuff, that chlorine scented afternoon. She was exasperated, worn out. Her frustrations bordered anger, and she felt great shame over her emotions - still they flooded.
Picking up a damp towel nearby, she wiped her face then said, "I think that I'm most upset that my children ruin my plans each day. And not just my plans for the day, but my plans of being a good mom. They ruin it no matter what I do. They ruin all of the meals I serve by hating what I've made and crying at the table. They ruin our trips to the park and our playdates with friends by throwing fits when it's time to go. I plan so much fun, and they ruin it all by demanding more or different. And I guess, if I'm honest, they ruin my dreams of what my family would be like. I had such good dreams. I've dreamt of being a mom for so long, now here I am and there aren't any peaceful, happy tuck-ins, no Bible reading at the breakfast table - not without more fits! Everyday I'm disappointed, frustrated, and angry. I feel abused! Some days I just want to throw in the towel." And she did throw down the tattered towel in her hands, with a pathetic little moan.
I smiled, leaned in, and hugged her. I hadn't thought of it that way before, but as she shared I believed she spoke the unspoken emotions of many moms in many homes today.
We feel like victims.
In the quite morning hours, when God's mercies are new, I know that I am not a victim, I'm simply a mom.
The same is true for my young friend, and the same is true for you.
Still, we find ourselves forgetting by mid-afternoon, hiding in the pantry with a handful of chocolate chips.
So, here's a question for you: Do you take everything personally? Maybe you don't mean too, but do you REACT as though you're the victim... all the time? And do you retreat behind your phone, in your pantry, in your anger, in this victim mentality each day?
Your husband comes home from work late... and you're the victim. Your children don't like what you cooked for dinner... and you're the victim. The kids can't find their shoes, their socks, their backpacks... and you're the victim. Your gifts weren't well received this Christmas... and you're the victim. You planed a cookie making afternoon with friends, and it's just a mess and the kids would rather tear up the toy room... and you're the victim.
It seems ridiculous when typed out like a confessional. But does this resonate at all?
Ladies, here in the stillness of this simple blog post, let me remind us both that we aren't victims... we're moms. Thwarted expectations are part and parcel when taking care of a family full of real live little people. It's hard, yes, but the majority of us are not abused.
Your children don't wake up in the middle of the night and gather round the baby's crib to plot ways to dash your dreams and destroy your day. They aren't contriving fevers, or purposing fits -though it does sometimes feel that way. They are simply being children, and they need you to simply keep on being mom.
Still, you're overwhelmed because you're feeling all the feelings. I know. So let me encourage you as I did this sweet mama with three kiddos under four, "Roll with the punches and go with the flow today, in the midst of the messy mundane. And on the big days too, when you've planned a trip to Disneyland and everyone's crying, keep putting one faithful foot in front of the other. Whatever your lot, choose to believe today what is noble and true, what is lovely and worthy of praise... and I'll be doing the same from my home with my children, as I whisper these words to myself, "You are not a victim, you're a mom."
The goal each day is faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love. And victims have a miserable time loving gently and lavishly.
We're not victims, we're moms.
Blessings upon us, every one,
If you struggle with anger in your home from the sheer effort of it all, if you find yourself yelling at your little ones, feeling like a victim, then weighed down by shame, I encourage to order a copy of Triggers: Exchanging Parents' Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses today. There is also the Triggers Study Guide, purposed to take you deeper in God's transforming Word! Ladies, this book has been a game changer for moms like you and me.
I'll continue speaking to this issue of Mommy-Anger in the weeks ahead. If you would like to receive this series directly to your inbox, sign up here!
Here's more of our on-going series, You Are Not a Victim, You're a Mom:
For part 2 in our series, My Child's Discontentment Makes Me Discontent, click here.
For part 3, Pray First, Ask Questions Later, go here.
For part 4, Parenting with Compassion - Not Passion, link over here.
For part 5, TRIGGERS, head here.
For part 6, Mommy time out, click here.
For part 7, Authoritarian Parenting, go here.
For part 8, Fast and Pray, Sweet Mom, head here.
Part 9, Whatever is true, is here.
Part 10, When Mom Needs a Good Cry, Cry Out, click here.
Part 11, What Does Parenting Have to Do With The Gospel? Read this one.
TRIGGERS: Exchanging Parents' Angry Reactions For Gentle Biblical Responses, was co-authored by Wendy Speake and Amber Lia.