Sometimes you don’t realize you have a temper till you have kids.
And then one night someone carves a pattern into the leather sofa. Or someone just dumps a pencil sharpener out all over the floor. After you’ve told them not to touch it.
Or someone else gets out of bed for the ten thousandth time. When you’ve just finally sat down and there’s only an hour left before exhaustion slams into your eyelids.
There’s no rage like the exhausted rage of motherhood.
These aren’t the things they don’t talk about in the parenting books, or play groups, or coffee dates. How you will one day lose your ever-loving mind because two boys sat and watched their sister pour an entire bottle of purple Motrin all over the beige carpet and didn’t think to stop her.
These are the ragged fringes of motherhood that don’t make for pretty pictures.
These are the moments that no one teaches you about in the breast-feeding classes or includes with the instructions for putting the baby to bed on her back or thinks to write on a warning label.
It was late one night when I stood outside my sons’ slammed bedroom door that I remembered the one time someone had cautioned me on temper.
I was a senior in college. And there was a couple in our class who got pregnant and married and brought their bundle of toddling, delicious chub with them all over campus.
We were all sort of awed and infatuated by this threesome.
We’d bump into them in the dining hall, hand over our meal card to contribute lunch, babysit their boy with the forever long, dark lashes in Jenks Library, take him for dimpled walks under those big East coast trees.
I was a South African girl a long way from home. I missed the horizon.
But that baby reminded us all of family and that there was a slice of life far beyond these dorm room walls that we hadn’t tasted yet.
They’d have us over for dinner in their small, beautiful space and it was a welcome warmth away from bunk beds and communal bathrooms. This place they’d carved out that always had room for one more of us to crowd around their table and spill over onto their sofas.
They made it look so easy.
I never offered to help, not really. I babysat around campus because it made me interesting to cute boys and friends who would always stop by to share in the fun of the baby. But I didn’t ask what it was really like – this juggling a family and a full class schedule at the same time. Or how to fit work into the mix.
I was much too interested in the story of me.
But there was one night after we’d come over to meet beautiful baby number two, the Isaac of the summer after our senior year, that the door swung open on a world I couldn’t begin to imagine.
She was sitting in their small apartment, both boys asleep, telling me the story of temper. It struck me as odd that this is what she would choose to tell me. Not how precious the kids or how priceless the moments, but that,
“Lisa-Jo if you struggle with temper at all you better learn how to control it before you have kids. Because you can’t parent with an out of control temper.”
My head is resting against the bedroom door as I remember her words.
At the time I barely heard her.
A decade later and I am intimately acquainted with the wild temper that runs in these veins, inherited from generations before me and last night’s discovery that the boys had dug holes all over the new lawn.
More than the battle of sleeplessness or figuring out how to make broccoli appealing or mastering potty training for the third time, this full out war against my own angry, shouty spirit will be the biggest victory I am determined to win through motherhood.
Tame it I will.
Because when my son gets out of bed and is too afraid to ask the question burning in his heart because, as he lisps, “I was scared you’d be mad at me, mama,” I know this is a fight worth winning. I know by the awful pit in my stomach. And how hard I hug his long, gangly limbs.
Because there was a moment last week when I held Jackson’s hand as we walked through the grocery store parking lot and I asked him, “Do I lose my temper more or less than I used to?” and he cocked his head to the side, thoughtful behind his glasses and said, “less.”
Dear God, please help it keep being less.
Because I want to be a safe place, a Cape of Good Hope for these kids, no matter how much they may infuriate me at times.
I will not be ruled by my tongue or my temper.
I will not be controlled by my out-of-control reactions.
I will stop, drop, and take a time out. Behind locked bathroom doors or alone in the minivan if necessary.
I will quiet myself amidst the chaos. I will hold onto my run-away-frustration and chew hard on a piece of ice if that’s what it takes to cool down.
I will remember to eat. To treat myself will the same care I’d treat an explosive device and disarm with regular rest, exercise, food and friendship.
I want my kids to have memories crammed full of family as a safe place and not an unpredictable hot spot.
So I learn when it’s OK to say OK to another episode of Barney. This is better than a mother unhinged by her own limitations and the craft that went all wrong
I teach them what it looks like to say sorry; down on my knees and eye to eye, I say it. These words that can stick in the throat but that are like sacred, unexpected treasure when you place them in the tiny hands of your children.
And then I will move on. I won’t carry the baggage of yesterday’s explosion or last week’s near melt down into tomorrow. I will practice grace on purpose. To my tiny people and myself.
I will keep on with the laughter and watermelon seed spitting and ice cream serving and bed time reading and diaper changing and vacation celebrating.
I will live in this one, new, beautiful, white canvas of right now and not be afraid to paint all over it with the wild abandon of today. Grateful always for the gift of tomorrow.
Ten things to Do Differently *Before* You Lose Your Temper
The Orange Rhino – most amazing story of a mom who blogged her way through 365 days of working on not losing her temper after a lifetime of feeling like it was out of control.
10 Things I Learned When I Stopped Yelling at My Kids
What All Mamas and Us Need to Thrive This Summer
Oh my. This is above and beyond what I needed to read today. In the midst of 3 weeks of solo parenting, and everything had been going decently well until last night’s bathtime when the potty-trainer took one final pee all over the floor and I lost it thinking of how this would be the SIXTH load of extra laundry I had to deal with that day and I yelled so loud and ugly that it’s been echoing shame in my ears ever since. This piece is perfect: a real word of solidarity I needed on a raw morning. Thank you.
OH, the potty training!! YEAH! That was me at my absolute worst. And she’s still not potty-trained! LOL!
Thanks, Lisa Jo. I just started a new job (same company), which means much less time at work and lots more time at home, so I am home two days a week now with my 5 year old daughter. And two whole days in, I’m discovering that it is super fun, but mercy, I am so much more worn out and prone to yelling after a day with her then after a day of work. I have said many times that it is a good thing she still naps or else she’d be watching a lot of TV. :-) I am determined to make this the summer of awesome before her first year of school, so I need to get my temper and expectations in check. Thanks for the reminders and encouragement.
I get angry at the kids and scream at them. Then I get more angry with myself. When I go to my room, to be alone, it isn’t usually because of my anger at them but at myself. Why do I scream at them?! I don’t scream at anyone else. How can I teach them to respect me if I don’t treat them with respect. It’s gotten better lately. Not perfect, but better. Thank God. I’m so thankful to have a husband who listens to me and helps me figure out a different way to discipline.
What a beautiful, excellent point! How do we teach them? I try to remind myself of that quote, “the way you speak to your child becomes their inner voice.” And it is so apparent when I hear my 2 year old repeat my go-to phrases to other children :p
I was brought to tears reading this. It’s such a vicious cycle, the yelling and the screaming. I’m so tired. I get frustrated when my 2 and 5 year old don’t listen. When they look right at me and do the complete opposite. I work full time and by the end of the day I’m absolutely physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted and I feel like the worst mother in the entire world. I love my girls more than anything in the world but yet I yell at them. I yell and I scream and then do it all over again. I do say I’m sorry. But does sorry fix it? Does sorry undo what I’ve said? I grew up in an abusive home so I know what it’s like. My goal has been to let my girls know each and every single day how much I love them but how contradictive is it of me when I tell them I love them but then yell at them? How do you at yell at something you love so much and would do anything for? Thank you for sharing that with us. I needed to know I’m not alone. Motherhood is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I’m so afraid of failing. I don’t want to fail my girls. I will not let my temper win. I just need to remember that in the heat of the moment.
Oh Lisa, such beautiful words. Thank you for sharing your heart and for encouraging us.
I never spanked my kids, only once, each, all their lives, when they winded me up, I’d escape into the bathroom, lock the door and unwind, and when I was not angry anymore, I’d come out and just let whatever happened, go, not remembered, there is nothing worse than an angry mother, so, my boys, never fought, physically, they yelled, went to their room after yelling and slammed that door so hard, the hinges loosed, then stayed there until they cooled down, no arguments nor disputes, their father said, it was not good to argue in the family, it would split us up, no angry words, to each other, if a child saw anger, our child would dish out anger, when my sons visited with friends on an over night stay, the boys’ father came when they fought and turned them over one by one and slapped them silly, my youngest son would not go back to that home, ever again, he’d never seen anything like that in his life, hahahahahahaha, I told him he’d got it lucky with me as his mother, he did not smile, at eight, all he knew was love, hahahahahahahaaaa, love kids I do, when I get angry, I still find a quiet place alone to cool down, smile through the anger, yes, sorry is very important to say to your children, I’m sorry are very important words to tell someone when you’ve done something wrong against them, even my husband, jolly good post, keep ’em coming …….
Oh Lisa – I have tears in my eyes. I grew up in a house where there was silence instead of arguing or shouting and never learned to deal with anger until I was married. My husband made disagreeing, anger and shouting safe. I just never knew how it would become out of control when I had my children. Every thing you say, I’ve done, and hated myself for after. Every day now I work at breathing through the chaos, taking my time outs when necessary, and reminding myself that this will pass and not matter tomorrow. It’s working, my children aren’t afraid of me anymore (or laughing at me which made it worse). Last night, my 4 year old son said to me “Mommy, you’re my best friend.” I cried and my heart broke a little. My sweet brave little boy reminded me of why I’m here and why I need to keep working on me, every day, so I can be the mom I choose to be.
I had no idea I had a temper until having a child. And, ohmyyes, it is scary. And shameful. Thank you for – as always – being honest for all of us.
Thank you for this post, it is a subject close to my heart…this determination that anger will no longer be a part of my family’s story, that the generational hold stops here. I’ve written about “the angry mom” on my own blog (is it ok for me to list it? http://www.womenwhobelieve.me), and it’s so true what you said – we don’t talk about it, yet so many of us struggle. Thanks for taking the lid off, for bringing light to this mostly taboo subject!
Thank your sharing the struggle that so many of us have. I feel so sad when I lose my temper with my 5yo. I want to be a better example for her. I feel even sadder when she loses her temper in return. I too am determined to control this emotion and be the best example for my, now, two kids. Thank you again for your beautiful honesty.
You win the internet today! ;) <3
Thank you for this. It is what I needed to read.
You have described me perfectly. I never knew I had a temper until I had my children. And it is oh so very scary. And I’m horrible ashamed and embarrassed every time I lose it. I hate seeing the fear and confusion in their eyes when it happens. I’m working on it. It’s definitely a process. But by the grace of God, I will beat it. Because my kids deserve better, and so do I. Thank you so much for writing about this….
Thank you for speaking out about this today. I recently came across Orange Rhino myself after desperately seeking ways to stop the yelling. You are so right that no one talks about this as being a real life part of having kids. I wish I had spent more time reading about parenting before my boys were born rather than reading pregnancy books or worrying about my birth plans which went right out the window. Sometimes I speak to my boys w/tones I would never.ever. use with other people. Thankful they are so full of grace & forgiveness for me. I am with you on taming this thing. Thanks again.
Thanks for the real you Lisa Jo! It is grace that keeps us moving forward and past the blast of yesterday! Thank you sister for this beautifully scripted encouraging word for the day!
Thank you for sharing. Your honesty is refreshing and raw and true. I am also a mother with 3 littles and I recently saw my oldest son look at me with fear in his eyes because he thought my reaction to his latest mess was going to send me over the edge. With that look, I have become much more in control of my reaction when things don’t go as planned, or when the kids manage to destroy something. Remembering to be the adult can be the biggest challenge of all. But also showing your kids that you are human and have limits can be healthy. Loving these 3 and parenting them is by far the hardest thing I have ever done. Thank you for your stories, your inspiration and know that you bring comfort to so many.
This is so lovely… and raw. I remember well last summer we were all perched on couches enjoying the slow and unhurried of a Saturday. And Dylan, my youngests pipes up over cups of coffee and OJ. Mom you’re much nicer to be around – you don’t get so angry as you used. That nearly tore me in two. My Son was 15 almost 16 at the time and while I was so glad that God had led me to joy to quell the white hot rage that was me, my heart ached for the 15 years of this person’s life that lived with a Vesuvius – never knowing when it would erupt. I have a long way to go – the doors still slam, my tounge works like a whip… standing along side you sister as we tame this anger together covered in His grace.
I am crying and singing Amen Amen Amen to all of this!! I found The Orange Rhino a few weeks ago (I forget from where; it could have been from your blog!) and I am now on the mamas who is doing the 30 day challenge. I just finished reading today’s blog challenge and I hopped on over here to do my daily reading of my Gypsy Mama fix. :)
And lo and behold, it is mirroring what I want to achieve.
Thank you for being brave, Lisa-Jo. I have been astounded by all the mamas who have come out and said, “Yes, I have a temper. Yes, I yell. And I want to yell less and love more.”
I think it’s a taboo subject and I also think that society, as a whole, actually applauds when they hear of parents yelling at their kids. I don’t think they get the yelling part; I think all society hears is the “disciplining” part. The training kids up part.
But us mamas who know our tempers are not part of God’s plan… us mamas who have that pit in our stomach when we realize our kids might remember our loud, cutting voice more than our soft tender whispers of love…. we know better.
It is hard to go against society’s grain and admit we have a temper.
I know I’ve been afraid to “come out” as a yeller because of my fear of judgment.
Surprisingly, I’ve found more people applauding me than judging me. And I’ve found more people (like random Facebook friends) coming to me and saying, Me too! Me too!
So I am so grateful that instead of the world either applauding our yelling or going to the other extreme and assuming we are monster-dictators bent on abusing our kids….I am grateful for those mamas like you and The Orange Rhino and other mamas who are intent on loving their kids more and yelling less.
God’s Kingdom, indeed, is upside-down to the rest of our world. So of course God does not wish for us to cut our kids off at the knees with our tempers. Of course God wants us to love, guide, instruct without hurting-the-ears-voice.
Thank you so very much for being one of the brave mamas.
With much love…
Lisa! Great post. So real. I’m relating on almost every point!! My worst rage comes out when my two-year-old acts out towards my four-month-old.
I am sure you may have already read these, but something that has helped me immensely with controlling my temper are two books: Loving Our Kids on Purpose by Danny Silk and Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood by Jim Fay. The first is more spiritually-based and the second is pure methodology.
The difference in our home has been miraculous. My paradigm about parenting has shifted and I am happier/less stressed.
Am overjoyed to have discovered your blog. :)
With two that are approaching 17 & 16 I find that these words are as revelant as when they were 1 & 2. Thank you for sharing….always the reminder that the power of life and death is in the tounge We can speak life into our children or things that kills the very precious nature of their souls.
Thank you, thank you for these words. My kids have definitely brought out a side of me that I didn’t know existed. I’ve had to give myself many time-outs so I don’t do something I regret. Every time I lose it, I’m reminded that only the Lord can deal with this wild temper, the only way is to let him come in and be the real mom. I hope this will be the gospel to my kids, that they’ll see a mom who’s not perfect, but who desperately goes to the Savior daily for their sake.
I am not a mother, but I am a daughter of a mother with a bit of a temper, and I am also a writer. Your blog posts always move me and your writing inspires me. And this one in particular touches me because it made me realize that even though my mother may have lost her temper sometimes, I am sure there were many, many more times when she kept it under control, even if it was a struggle. And I know that she did come to me with tears and apologies at times when it was bad, and though they seemed like an afterthought then, I know now how much of a challenge that must have been. And love her more for it. Thanks.
I second Monica’s comment. I too have a yelling, screaming mother, and now that I have 4 children of my own, I have a lot more sympathy and understanding for why she acted the way she did.
In our household we offer repentance and forgiveness freely; that helps me, since it frees me from my sin, and teaches our children we are to offer to others what God has given us in abundance.
Yes. Great perspective and tips. So helpful that it is more than just ‘going to yell less’. Thank you.
I had no idea of my temper before children either and I’m certain I inherited it as well and boy do I work hard not to let my mommy, coupled with Lyme disease, exhaustion get the best of me. Most days I win that hard fought battle, some days I don’t, but like you, I get down on my knees before my children, humble and broken, and beg for their forgiveness, expressing that yelling is not OK and that mommy is sorry. Thank God for grace.
I can’t believe the timing of this. I literally lost my cool shortly before reading this. We’re in a hotel between apartments, and the kids are bored and nagging me and I finally lost my cool. I felt bad about it as soon as it happened, but knew it was better for me to cool down first before heading in. And I happened to read this while I cooled down.
I grew up in a home that became a place you walked on eggshells when I was a teen. I used to prolong going home some days, by taking walks or hanging with friends. I never want that to be how the home I make for my family to be. But then I worry that I am. When I loose it like this. The consolation I have is that my boys and my husband both prefer to be at home than anywhere else. Friends have told me, “you’re so patient!” and I always respond, “right now I am! Give me a day or two!” I don’t want to become proud that I’m “patient” because I’m afraid that then I’ll stop learning to control my temper and really become a horror. May God give me the help and grace to continue to loose my temper less, like you.
I think the key for me, personally, is what you wrote here: “I will remember to eat. To treat myself will the same care I’d treat an explosive device and disarm with regular rest, exercise, food and friendship.” I don’t take care of myself, and then I get upset at my family for not doing it for me. Which is ridiculous. If my job is to take care of my family, I need to remember that I’m a part of my family. I deserve my time and care too. The whole family suffers if someone feels neglected by me. That includes me.
And thank you for this part, which is the part I need to remember too: “[I will apologize to my children] And then I will move on. I won’t carry the baggage of yesterday’s explosion or last week’s near melt down into tomorrow. I will practice grace on purpose. To my tiny people and myself. …I will live in this one, new, beautiful, white canvas of right now and not be afraid to paint all over it with the wild abandon of today.”
Thank you, Lisa Jo.
Oh, Amen. I always thought I was calm and patient, until I had kids. I never thought I’d be a yeller. Never thought I’d swear in my kids’ presence, under my breath. Oh, it’s good to know I’m not alone in this struggle. It eats away at me, making me feel like I’m an awful mom. But yes, we can move on, we can accept grace and start over. We can treasure the hearts in our care and tame our tongues. Thank you, as always, for keeping it real, sister. xoxo
You said it all right here. The “exhausted rage of motherhood” just about sums it up. I love how you put the pieces together. Thank God for the innocence of a child’s forgiveness and second chances.
Thank you. This is so beautiful it brought me to tears. I can relate 100%. I never knew I had so much anger inside of me until I had kids. And I watched the anger rise again and again. I’m now working on staying calm, staying mindful, getting space when I need it, practicing self-care, etc. I knew I had work to do when I saw the fear in my child’s eyes when I would start to lose it. Thank you for your honesty. This is something that needs to be talked about, needs to be aired, so there’s not that stifling isolation that can infiltrate parenthood.
So, so wise. I have a temper, my mum had a temper, and before her I gather her Dad was fairly fiery and probably someone behind him and so on. I want to be the line that’s drawn in the sand and it is SO SO hard.
I get it wrong all the damn time, but I’m trying, and to know that I’m not alone makes it just a teeny bit easier.
Lisa – I hope you read my post – I know you get many. But it’s so important that you are getting down on your knees, meeting them eye-to-eye and apologizing. I have apologized to my children my whole life. I am 51 and just became a grandmother so I am years ahead of you. With that said, I NEVER heard those words from my parents, and I still crave to hear them. They were NEVER wrong, it was ALWAYS me, and still is, only now, I know it isn’t. I just learn to accept what is, and carry on. I will most likely never hear those words from my parents, but that’s ok, they most likely never heard them from their parents either. But through this I’ve learned how very important it is that our children learn and know that we make mistakes too, and it’s ok. And, when your kids get a little older, and they gain the courage to shout back some day, then come and apologize, your heart will fill all over again. Keep apologizing when needed, and you won’t regret it. I promise.
Thanks for being such an inspiration through your words and please always know you have a friend here – ❤ jean
Reading and grateful, thanks Jean.
So. . . tell me. How do you hang onto the GOOD, very good fire-in-the-belly that makes you YOU and still work on this anger thing? Because anger – in and of itself – is not a bad thing. It’s a very human emotion, shared by all of us, even Jesus. I absolutely applaud your efforts to tame your fatigue-based reactivity as a result of being pushed too hard and exploding (and HOW I LOVE that phrase “To treat myself with the same care I’d treat an explosive device” — oh, yeah!). I love your list, I do. I guess I just want to push back a tiny bit and find some space for what we used to call righteous indignation. I’m not talkin’ verbal abuse here, just well-founded discomfort that becomes verbal when things aren’t just. And once in a while, that’s why we feel angry with our kids, too, you know? When they treat each other badly. And I think we can be angry without being reactive – maybe that’s what you’re talking about here? I’m rambling. . . sorry!
Agree. My kids know (and I will say it out loud to them) “Guys, can you hear my voice? Mama’s getting a big voice now and I’m about to get angry” – so I signal to them when I’m starting to feel frustrated with their behavior to give them (and me) time to adapt and avoid heading into full blown psychotic rage yelling – the frothing at the mouth kind :) That’s what I’m trying to avoid. I think there’s always room for what we call the “big voice” because it signals they need to stop and change direction. But even they can tell the difference between a big loud voice and a rabid rage, you know? Does that clarify?
Yes, ma’am. Thank you. Love the ‘big voice’ description, because yes, sometimes, we do need big voices with clear messages. Thanks.
Good job Momma! I’m further down the road now with two teenage boys in High School that my husband and I adore. They are fun, resilient, wise and hilarious young men – not because of all the things we did right, but more by God’s grace and our humility. Apologizing and striving are the magical ingredients that make our mess ups HIS magnificence! Great kids are made little by little and bit by bit over years of hard manual labor. You can do this, I just know it =)
Lisa-Jo, I’m echoing what has already been commented, but thank you for talking about what seems to be a shameful issue among us mamas. And thank you for the reminder to care for ourselves and practice grace when we lose it. Together, we will tame these tempers. -Heidi
Thank you so much Lisa-Jo for this amazing truth you have just out into such eloquent words!! I am humbled by your grace. My children also thank you! I can calm that rage inside of me when I remember that they are the reason I do what I do! So many thanks!
I’m right there too. I have recently found that it helps me to pray about it before I even get out of bed in the morning. But it’s a long road we’re on, isn’t it?
Thank you so much for this post! I am a dad and it takes so much not to scream, get angry faster than one would like to. The Holy Spirit does help and the one reminder is exactly that my kids can say it happens less and break the cycle so that they can grow up and live this life anger and temper free. Once again thank you so much.
Lisa Jo – thank you. Wow. Such a powerful post. That no one is writing. I was told once, when going for a year to therapy in my early 20s, that I really needed to find a way to express my anger instead of holding it inside. Then in my mid 30s I had triplets. I found a way to express it. And it’s not holy. Or pretty. And I’m not nearly as bad as my mom, but when I yell and it crumples a little three year old face, I know there’s a better way. So I’m working on it. Keep writing this.
Maybe the best post you’ve EVER written. THANK YOU for being transparent and sharing. You’re blessing us Moms and reminding us of how important this is.
This is great. Thank you so much for saying this. Just a heads’ up- I thought the pic (on the FB sharing link) was a kid who’d been beaten up and it caught my breath for a minute until I realized it was marker on his face. You might want to add another pic for people to choose from with sharing -some might be afraid to click because they think it’s about physical child abuse.
Yikes, thanks for that suggestion Valerie.
You did it again Lisa-Jo, another beautiful post aimed like an arrow to my heart. Another big sigh of relief knowing that I am not alone, that the big secret world of parenting behind closed doors isn’t really so secret, just not discussed very often. Thank you, thank you. <3
This is so beautiful, Lisa Jo! I have struggled with this as well–I taught for several years and spent so much time around kids–I never even considered I had a problem with my temper. I was so overwhelmed to realize all the anger that was hiding in this heart–undiscovered until my little ones were born. But God is so gracious and gentle with me, and while I’m still very far from perfect, I have found some healing. And less yelling!
So timely. I’ve been working from home this week, and my kids have been really good at entertaining themselves, but the house is. a. disaster. But they’ve been happy, and I’m getting done what I need to do, and I keep telling myself these things. And we studied the Word together this morning, and it was awesome. But I’m on the verge of anger at the messes and the fact that no one wants to help me.
But. This was so timely. And I clicked over and read Ann’s post… perfect. So what I needed to hear. Thank you! It must be a struggle for most moms, but not enough of us discuss the truth of walking through this as Christ wants us to. Beautiful. Thanks!
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for this! Thank you for being so open and honest and transparent, without pretense-just being raw and open for us to feel encouraged and most of all…that we aren’t alone. Sometimes the best thing we can do as women and fellow mothers is to remind each other that we are not in this alone. The things we deal with, the minor incidents and the major crisis’, the ups and downs, the exhaustion and joy and everything in between- we can all relate to it. Sometimes, though, in the middle of the day when it’s been one thing after another, you’re up to your knees in messes and dirty diapers and temper tantrums, it can seem impossible to nip that temper in the bud. This post is such a great encouragement that we can all rise above it, that there have been many women before us with the same struggles, and that by succeeding we can encourage those who come after us.
Thank you so much for writing this. I have a 3-1/2 year old and twin 18 mos olds and I have been losing my temper more and more with them (especially the 3 year old) and I absolutely hate it and myself when it happens. Last week I just discovered the Orange Rhino Project website and since then things like your post keep popping up reminding me that this is an issue I need to deal with. Thank you for the support and for writing this. I did not yell at my kids yesterday or today, and hopefully tomorrow will be day 3. Right now I am just trying to take it day by day. I really appreciate your blog and inspirational writing and messages.
Your post made me tear. What you said on “There’s no rage like the exhausted rage of motherhood”, I resonate with it; I even feel it in my bones. I have been there before, several times. And yes, nobody really shares the dark side of parenting, and sometimes when I read about other parents dishing out advice and imposing their values on attachment parenting, it makes me feel like I am such a bad parent for sometimes losing my temper. But parenting is about learning, and making mistakes, and learning to be a better person.
Thank you for sharing your post. :)
I love how candidly you talk about this taboo topic of anger. I have tried to bring up my frustrations with my temper with people and they always respond, “I can’t imagine you getting upset!” As if that meant I never did and so there was nothing to discuss. But really, it can get ugly and scary for all of us. I have been trying to focus on what my children need instead of reacting to their behavior. I’m also taking more time to identify their triggers and what seems to help the most and trying to stay focused on that instead of letting my anger take over. The stretches between losing my temper are getting longer. Yay! Thanks for the encouragement in this post.
Keep on keeping on. I found I had more control when I went off sugar. I also found i need “me” time to reenergize and to not feel guilty about that. I gave myself fully completely to my children all day and i explained to them at 10pm they did not get mommy anymore, but mean woman and it might be in their best interest to go tied. They still remember this and I thnk it has allowed them to realize when they need “me” time and that it is ok to need that. So proud of you!
“Tied” should read TO BED. Crazy auto correct!
Oh friend, this is something I struggle with on a daily basis! And I sure don’t have any easy answers, I just know that I have to take it moment by moment and take control of my anger before it takes control of me. I want home to be a safe place for my girls, where they are not reluctant to tell me what happened for fear of my reaction. I have seen my daughters shrink back from me when I’ve been wild with anger, and it cut me to the bone. I never want to see that fear in their eyes again. Thanks for the encouragement and for letting me (and others like me) know that we are not alone.
Your words came straight from my heart today!!! Thank you, thank you, for this post!!
I don’t have the energy to explain why this is so beautiful to me. But thanks again for your writing of grace and encouragement to broken people attempting Kingdom living.
Thanks so much for this. God is awesome. He always provides what we need when we need it, and sister, did I ever need to hear this. I’ve been on some tired, emotional, hormonal, screaming mama roller coaster for the last few days. It was horrible. It reminded me so much of my own mother. The look on my son’s face, oh my! The feeling in the bottom of my belly . . . not good. Thanks for the practical suggestions Lisa Jo. Thanks for your honesty and the truth that will set us all free and isn’t that why we need Jesus?
May he rejoice over us all with singing.
I cried so much reading this I couldn’t use the touchpad on my laptop to scroll down to make a comment :( I desperately want to change the way I parent and control my anger. I feel like the only person who sees the crazy woman I can become in the midst of the mess is my husband and I am ashamed to bring it up with anyone else or ask for help. I feel like I’ve already ruined my daughter’s gentle spirit with my rage. I grew up in a house where my mother regularly “lost it” and it caused me to feel like I was forever “walking on eggshells” but I never learnt how to deal with conflict …or anger.
Oh Jo, it’s never too late to make a change. My dad was a raging temper my entire childhood and adolescence but in his 60s his mellowed into the most beautifully approachable parent. He still fights his temper, but he’s winning and we can all see the change and it’s all the more powerful because we know where he’s come from. Keep at it, confess it to a friend, I promise that anyone who’s a mother KNOWS what temper is like. We all wrestle with it. It comes with the territory.
My kids are about 3 and one and a half. I have never yet lost my temper at them. However, I repeatedly loose my temper at my husband! Can’t seem to figure out how to stop.
Beautifully written and captures oh so well such a challenging topic. Thank you for giving words to this complex, scary, trying and hopefully enlightening part of parenting. Loved this post.
This is beautiful.
I admire your hope:
“Because I want to be a safe place, a Cape of Good Hope for these kids, no matter how much they may infuriate me at times.”
And I admire your grace-based humility:
“I teach them what it looks like to say sorry; down on my knees and eye to eye, I say it. These words that can stick in the throat but that are like sacred, unexpected treasure when you place them in the tiny hands of your children.”
I believe this attitude and action will go extremely far not only into the depths of your children’s hearts – but for eternity – impacting all the people that are impacted by your children and your children’s children and all those impacted by them.. building upon it over and over.
To show your children truly humility like this will prepare their hearts to see their own need for grace – the grace of Jesus. And if that’s not parenting at it’s best, I don’t know what is.
Thank you for for making a difference.
Beautifully written and oh so true! I don’t even pretend that I haven’t lost it before and have allowed “monster mom” to come out. I have 3 teenagers and sometimes they talk back (shocking I know!) and have yucky attitudes. I have begun saying “I will not allow your attitude to affect my mood” when they are really pushing my temper button and it helps! Sometimes I say it in my head, sometimes to them. Speaking it aloud, they realize that they need to stop and let the issue go for the time so I can have time to think.
I am just trying to be the best mom I can be.
Thanks for such a touching post! I am the daughter of a mother who could not control her temper. It has influenced greatly how I parent my children. There are times I can feel my mother’s words rising in my throat, but I remember to put myself in my children’s shoes at that point, and I control my temper. I seriously feel my kids learn so much more from our disagreements or frustrations when we are able to talk through them on their level both emotionally and physically. Great post!
I’m not alone! I’m not alone! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
Not. By. A. Long. Shot.
This was a great post! Now I would like to add something to it and for all the other mothers who have small children…. I have 3 children, ages 18, 15, and 10. My oldest was diagnosed with serious issues and behavioral problems, some of which he will have for the rest of his life. So with that said, I would like to add to your comments of “I will stop…..” , because you see (not trying to discourage you at all) you can say that over and over, but my bet is you are still going to lose it here and there. I want you to remember that if or when you “lose it” in the future, that you need to give yourself forgiveness and grace. I too, for years and years, kept saying the same things to myself… “I will not do this, I will do that, I will stop…” etc. But you see even though I believe we can do all things through Him, we still battle our flesh everyday and unfortunately our flesh will win at times…. that’s where grace and forgiveness comes in. Because there are going to be times where you CAN’T take a time out….. I can’t tell you how many times that I have burst into tears after losing my temper and beat myself up because of it. Something I had to learn was that I did and do the best I can… P.E.R.I.O.D. I did what you mentioned after calming down and I felt bad… I would go to my children and say, ” I am sorry for the way I acted.” I would also explain how I was feeling and why… It teaches your children to think of others’ feelings. Something I’ve noticed with my children (especially the eldest two), they absolutely know I love them, and they only remember a few of the times that I lost it (and let me tell you that I have totally lost it many, many times in the past years)… in fact when they talk about memories, it always seems to be the good/funny stuff… So, I wish you success; but if you fall off the wagon from time to time, I hope what I’ve said will save you from being way too hard on yourself…
I so, so, so relate to this. Every damn day. Best of luck to you Mama- I loved this post!
The comment about the explosive device was spot on. Sometimes I feel like a ticking time bomb. Something goes wrong, my son is on his series of “why” questions, or just not listening. I’m calm, I’m calm, I’m calm… and then I explode and lose it. I hate losing my temper, thank you for this post
Reacting with anger is something that I am sure all parents have done at least once. While I like to think that I am a pretty patient person, it can be very easy to get caught up in the moment and say things you later wish you hadn’t. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and for your suggestions. I love this, “I will practice grace on purpose. To my tiny people and myself.” Definitely!
Thank you, beautiful.
Oh, Lisa-Jo, thank you. The full wrath of my mama anger was not unleashed on my poor boys (or my own broken heart) until having my third child. And since I wasn’t a new mom, the way my anger spewed out as a result of this extra notch up of feeling out of control and overwhelmed totally shocked and saddened me. I didn’t expect it and I didn’t know how to change it. And in the moment (even still sometimes) I felt justified in the soul-piercing, spirit-defeating scream. Not only was I hurting the tender hearts of my toddler boys, but I was sinking into a pit of shame and despair. Yes, no one talked about! I thought it was only me…until God gifted me with a new friend who was quick to be honest and vulnerable about this struggle in her own life, and finally breathing the words, “me too” somehow made all the difference in knowing I had a choice and asking God to help me see the other choice when my eyes were set to be blinded by red rage at the sight of four feet jumping in a pee puddle on the living room floor and waking the colicky baby who had FINALLY just fallen asleep. And on and on I could go…
So know that you are not alone. I will breathe deeply and pray and take bathroom timeouts and apologize right along with you.
Thank you so much for being real and honest with your writing! I have not been blessed with children as of yet however I believe that God has me going through a season of purifying me as I am an intern for Teen Challenge. I live on site and assist 15-20 women as they strive to overcome addictions in their lives. I also am working through my own habits, hang ups and past hurts while trying to be a light and example of hope for these women. It is a daily test to not loose my tempter or speak out of selfishness instead of love. I am so thankful that God lead me to your blog where I could read your words of honesty and yet a hope that each day will get better and our responses will become more and more Christ like as we look to Him for guidance and direction. Thank you!
I hear you! Thanks for the refreshing, honest post. I know exactly how you feel.
Such good medicine. We really are never alone in this stuff. When will we realise that there is ALWAYS someone out there going through the same stuff? We are not monsters just people with limits doing the hardest job on earth – raising little human beings.
Thanks for this cuz :) also read the Orange Rhino blog – super encouraging. Thank you.
Love you, Bron.
Oh Yes! It is always wonderful to see the truth on the screen. I go to Celebrate Recovery and one of our sayings is you are only sick as your secrets. When we expose the truth, the devil can’t hold us on it anymore. I love the part about grace. I am just like you! Never had a temper till my first little firecracker started talking. Now with her fire and my exhaustion, we spark together. I think being exhausted is a huge part of losing patience and tempers. Especially for us mothers. How can we give when we have nothing else. God is so gracious with us, I want to pass that grace to my children. Being on my knees and saying Im sorry, is there anything better in God’s eyes? I think not. Great, great great post!
“I will practice grace on purpose.” Love it. Need it.
Thank you. I am about speechless. I really needed this. Thank you for being honest and transparent.
I have always had a bad temper, but it wasnt until I had my colic son that I realized my temper was really out of control. I remember just rocking him and crying with him for hours with no resolution and then I would just scream at him, and then start crying again, but this time because of the shame. How can I love someone so much and yell at such a helpless person? What kind of mother am I anyway? Who does that? For a whole year I would hide the shame of my temper. It took a lot time and specific instances to realize just how out of control my temper was. Thankfully and mercifully, this is one that I feel I have finally gotten a handle on. Sometimes my grip isnt as strong that it should be and there have been times that I still “fall of the wagon” but I recognize the signs and defuse the situation before it gets any worse. Thanks so much for your words. There have been so many times that I have felt alone in this. I kept my feelings bottled up on just how much shame I had regarding my temper. It’s really nice to know other people have struggled and mastered this too.
Oh LisaJo, thank you for this! I needed to hear today that less is okay. Less is progress. Less is still a good mama who desperately wants to reverse the curse. Most of all less is better! Thanks.
Thank you for writing this.
I have a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old and I have struggled with the occasional yelling (only at the 3-year-old, he’s all boy and into everything and that’s been a big adjustment for me!). I always feel so guilty afterward. My mom had 4 kids under 5, homeschooled all of us, and although I can remember her now and then being frustrated, stressed out, even non-verbally angry… I never once remember her yelling at me or anyone else, including my father. She is my inspiration in this area and helps me to know that it is possible to raise your kids to be able to say, “I don’t remember my mom ever yelling at me.” My kids are so young that I still hope they will be able to say the same.
this was so good. so good. so encouraging. i never ever thought i struggled with anger until after my 2nd child was born (now i have 5). so humbling for God to show me what was always in my heart, it just took this much pressure for it to come out. i pray the Lord gives me grace every day to keep my mouth shut when it starts to rise up and turn to Him instead.
LisaJo, thank you for showing me that I am not alone. I want you to know that as a result of this post, I have set myself the Orange Rhino challenge. My ever patient husband initally laughed when I told him though he is delighted that I am taking this bull by it’s horn and it has opened up a channel for us to talk about the issue. When I told my eldest (6yo), she blinked and said, ‘Mama, that (a year) a l-o-n-g time’ and I told her that I will need her help if I am to do it. Thank you for being the catalyst that I needed. My prayer for myself and for you is that we will give our best to our children and I will try my very best to give them the best of myself. LisoJo, I am so glad that we can stand together and say, ‘Tame it I will’. Lord, may the words of my mouth be blessings rather than curses for my children now and for years to come. Amen.
Thank you! I hope you don’t mind me quoting you (with a link to this post) in a post I just wrote.
I love that you’re willing to be so completely honest. I’ve never been a big temper type, either. But wow… since I got pregnant, dealing with my whiny 3 year old and my temperamental 2 year old has pushed me into places I had no idea were within me. Places I don’t want to go. As I heard my 2 year old mimicking me after I had blown up at them, I felt so ashamed. What was I teaching my kids? Not love, mercy, grace. I think you’re so right- a lot of it comes on when we haven’t taken time for ourselves and given ourselves a break. And I know a lot of it right now is due to hormones and lack of sleep, but I don’t want to use that as an excuse. I want to be intentional in how I handle my temper. Thanks for baring your soul, so I know I’m not alone in this struggle!
Thank you, thank you. I cried as I read this and I admire your honesty. What a comfort to read about your struggle with an ugly behavior that appears selfish but has absolutely no impact on how much we love our children. I am working on it, too;).
This had me to tears. So beautiful and honest and true. Thank you. I feel that I’ve come a long way, but it is a journey, with setbacks all the time. I have grown my patience so much by focusing on love and respect, but I still have my moments when I tell my two-year-old ‘STOP’ crying, fussing, fighting, etc. Thank God I’ve gotten to the point that now, as soon as that angry ‘STOP’ comes out of my mouth, it usually is a wake-up call to me to cool down, take a deep breath and try to help him. I also just find it so inspirational all the comments here and how so many moms are recognizing the need to make a change, while still showing themselves grace.
With tears in my eyes, Thank you for this post.
I needed this tonight, so bad. My 2 year old is laying on the couch beside me after getting up for the upteenth time and my 6 month old is rolling across the floor growling at her toys and all I want is to sleep because we have to get up early to take my mother and little sister to appointments an hour away before I have to go to class. >.<
Refreshing, raw honesty about mommyhood. First-time mom, of a tot I might add, and no one told me about the parental temper tantrums. I have had a few and the guilt is insurmountable. The fear in my tot’s eyes when I’ve had those Exorcist (something close to demonic) moments is enough to cut like a knife in my heart. I’m learning to calm myself and have patience; something I’ve been praying for forever. I truly believe God placed her in my life to give patience; but, it’s up to me to grab hold of it and exercise it. Thanks again for sharing this.
I have an issue with my tempter too which has caused some problems in our family. Day by day, by His Grace, I work on it. Thanks for sharing this.
Thank you! Just THANK YOU!!!