30 Oct 2013

How to have a temper tantrum

We’re facing each other in the hallway. His fists are clenched and my jaw is clenched and our voices echo off the walls.


There are photos of all three kids blown up on the wall and they’re beautiful and utterly inappropriate right now because we’re about to go head to head. Not in a frame-worthy way.

How can five years old look so defiant?

How can he be a reflection of all my roots, my past and my furious future glaring out of hot blue eyes the very color of mine?

My suitcase still isn’t unpacked. I have dirty laundry spilling out of my bedroom and out of my life and here in this hallway where my son knows my temper better than any other living creature.

My DNA screams through his tiny veins and throbs in my temple.



Again. We’re back here again. A day full of a thousand complaints and whiney frustrations. Nothing good enough. Nothing fun enough. Nothing right or cut in the correct shape or served on the plate the proper color.

How can size two shoes leave such painful marks all over my day?

This family of tiny humans stretched to the seams until finally a seam rips right through and it feels good to just grab him. I grab him so hard on his small shoulders that are broader than his big brother’s.

I grab him and get down and proper to his eye level so he can hear every word I’m about to spit out.  Spit back at the boy who after a day of wretched push and pull just told me he wished that when he was born they’d given him to another mother.

Told me with trembling eyes.

This boy who has pushed against me harder this year than the day I delivered him into this world.

I’m about to push back.

My fingers wrap around his tiny man arms and I take a deep breath and it all comes rolling out, all my furious defeated temper, screaming out like a runaway parenting train.

We’re both stunned at what I say.

Utterly unexpected I scream the words we both need to hear,

“I was cut and I bled more for YOU than any other of my kids. It hurt. I still have the scar. And I would do it again and again and again. Because I MUST have a Micah in my life. I must have you.

And if you run away to another mom I will fight her to get you back. I will fight for you and I will win.

I will always win because you are mine. MINE. Do you hear me? And I’m never letting you go.”

And his hard face crumples. His small body sighs into mine. I’m down on my knees now and holding him like I used to when he was still just my baby.

Holding him because somewhere between my brain and my tongue someone rescued me from myself and a gentle spirit slipped grace between my selfish syllables.

Soft sobs in a short hallway with the back pack rack hanging next to us and the relief that there is a God who makes all things new.




{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1

    whoa… powerful.

    This is something I will have to learn as well… (and trust Him to change the words that spill out).

  2. 2

    I felt God saying those words to me just now. “You are MINE.”

    Nothing like parenthood to make our relationship with God real. And how!

  3. 3

    Utterly gorgeous. Unforgettable. Moved me to my mama-core.

  4. 4

    That is SO what all children need to hear. Fierce love. Never giving up. Never walking away. Fighting-for-them love. Beautiful.

  5. 5

    This momma stuff is HARD. I say that after I’ve heard my own daughter tell me how she hates me this week. It’s so hard to let them have their independence and still keep them close. Day by Day!

    Hugs Lisa Jo. Here’s to hoping (and praying) that you get some quiet moments away with your precious ones.

  6. 6

    Amazing. I pray next time I’m tempted to grab my younger, almost-big-as-his-big-brother son and spew venom all over him, that God reminds me that out of the abundance of my heart my mouth will speak. I know I have better, more edifying words in me than what my ugly emotions of the moment want to hurl at my babies (especially that one). I’ll be carrying this post with me all day, thank you.

  7. 7

    Yes. THIS!! I have a precious 6 year old; just the same. I love this post, Lisa Jo! Sometimes I’m wild eyed and I grab him and he struggles and I just tell him over and over how much I love him until he melts (sometimes…more often than not, thankfully…sometimes we really do come to blows…but OH he shows me grace, that 6 year old!!)

  8. 8

    Seriously made me cry. I can so relate. I refuse to give up on you, my child! Lord, grant us grace to persevere, even — especially — in the hard times.

  9. 9

    There are so very many children in this world, who are angry. And the anger would melt right into the pit of the earth, if just one mamma, would get on her knees and yell those words to them, at them, and through them! Just one Mamma! Just one mamma – and the whole world would turn a little easier…Just one Mamma!

    And, for the What It’s Worth department, from a mamma of four adult children, I find that the Lord has allowed me to walk through many different parts of my own childhood with my children – but this time, I get to see it from the adult point of view. Then I too, melt right into the earth, as a dead women, when I realize, as an adult, how great is my FATHER’S LOVE.

  10. 10
    Daniel Farrow says:

    All I can say Lisa-Jo is WOW!!! I’m SO grateful to God that my Mom helped me the same way that you helped your son in this moment. God rescued her and slipped into her mouth many times that same gentle spirit of grace that helped me to melt in her arms when I needed to.

    Thank you very much for sharing this. I so identified with you and your son in that moment! :)

  11. 11
    michelle h says:

    sounds like your Micah is cut from the same stuff as my Micah! :)

    • 12
      Anneke Blignaut says:

      I have a micha as well……..
      I gues its because of the call on their live because of their name!!!
      Truth be….i am not good with the gentle things in live!!

  12. 13

    Thank you thank you! After a couple of tough (putting it mildly) with my 7 yr old son, this was right on time for me. I’m learning to answer gently (Prov 15:1) and think before reacting. Realizing how much I need God’s grace as much as he needs mine!

  13. 14

    Thank you for being so real. This was raw and powerful and something I needed to hear. God bless you. Xoxo

  14. 15

    This was such a raw, moving, and beautiful piece. You’re a good mom.

  15. 16

    Yes, it must be a Micah thing. My Micah is a first-born, strong-willed, temper-tantrum throwing kid who I love with all my heart. Thank you for this – THIS is the right way to respond.

  16. 17

    Woah! Holding back the tears. What a great story, yes those were devine inspired words to reach that heart. Being a first born, strong willed person myself sometimes that is all we want to hear.

  17. 18

    Dear Lisa-Jo
    Being a proud South African, your little Micah has just stolen my heart with his Bafana-Bafana T shirt. Oh, all toddlers at some stage become bafunny-bafunny wishing for other mothers, and mothers wishing we can sell them for a donkey and then kill the donkey.
    Blessings XX

    • 19

      :) I was waiting for the first South African to notice it. We LOVE those shirts. Need to stock up again in Dec since they’re about to outgrow all the ones we have…

  18. 20

    Oh, and isn’t this what Jesus, our precious Saviour, is saying to each one of us!

  19. 21

    Wow, Lisa-Jo! I have tears running down my face as I write this. I have been there, and have not weathered those tests as gracefully ~ thank you so much for this example!
    The other week, my 8yo was raging, and I found my temper ratcheting higher and higher. I loomed over him, and got right in his face with my angry face…..until I saw a flicker of a smile on his lips. Then I put my nose right up to his and we both started laughing at how ridiculously we were behaving. I found one other opportunity to do that, and it flipped us both out of our angry mood.
    I pray that I remember those grace-filled words you spoke, and that I am able to mirror them in the moments where other words threaten to overflow!

  20. 22

    Brought tears to my eyes, while I ate my pot roast for lunch in front of my computer in my cubicle. Powerful emotions we can all relate to. Bravo.

  21. 23

    Beautiful. My child is grown but it still applies….to husbands too.

  22. 24

    Love, love, love this. My oldest daughter Elise was supposed to be a twin – we lost her brother/sister at about 6-8 weeks along (the doctor thought that it was a miscarriage and recommended a D&C, which we declined – we could have aborted her without ever having known). I thought I was through the hard part of my pregnancy when she arrived six weeks premature and spent three weeks in the NICU. She is also – easily – my most obstinate, hard-headed, rascal of a child. But knowing that she is truly our miracle baby makes me feel like all of my hard moments with her – then and now – will equal something much greater, someday.

  23. 25

    Wow, two days in a row I find a message in my inbox from you…an earth shattering message. A reminder that I needed to hear to stay on track. Keep it up! I sent the first message tumbling through the internet on facebook share as it was too good keep contained in my inbox. It reached someone unexpected, beyond my usual reach, who also needed it. Who needed to hear the grace like I did. :) Thank you for posting the real stuff. Its the grace filled stuff that we need the most.

  24. 26

    Oh, tears… may we all turn our awful anger into grace like this — and accept God’s great love for us when we are railing against him. I’m learning this lesson, that when my son is angry, he is usually hungry for my time and acceptance. I’m learning to put down my to-do’s and distractions and just sit with him and love him. It’s so hard, this self-sacrificing love — but it’s the only way to follow Jesus and show him to our kids. Thanks for your beautiful example, LJ.

  25. 27

    Boy, have I been there! My second son went through some incredibly difficult years filled with unknown anxiety and fears wrapped up in a temper he couldn’t control for a couple of years when he was about 7 or 8. We tried everything. For several weeks, I had to literally carry him into the school and leave him with the principal or guidance counselor to drag him to his classroom. He was usually OK once he was there. But he couldn’t make himself go willingly. It was the most difficult thing I’ve had to go through as a parent. He was scared of his feelings, yet couldn’t talk about them. He didn’t know why he was feeling this way. There were days he refused to get out of the van to go into church. Once, our awesome children’s pastor, sat with him under the coat rack for the entire Sunday school hour. Just sat with him patiently with no words necessary. It wasn’t just at school. His teacher was understanding and amazing through it too. It was pretty much anxiety about everything everywhere. I’ll never forget the day that I crumpled into His hands as I wrapped my arms around my son, releasing it all to Him. All the frustration and worry and pain. I heard one word. Grace. Just give him grace and love him through this, let me handle the rest. And He did. I did. I have such a special bond with my son who is now 13 because of this. We still don’t know why or what was causing my poor little boy to have to go through that, but I do know that the mother/son bond is stronger because of it and so is the mother/God/son bond, for which I am so very grateful for. Thank you so much for sharing so openly on your blog. We moms need to hear it.

  26. 28

    OH MY GOODNESS! I now have tears in my eyes! Such powerful words God gave you! I pray for that same spirit of grace! I fight hard like this with my almost 10 yr old girl! It gets really hard sometimes. I can feel my blood boil and my blood pressure rising many times. I SO don’t get it right so many times. I am praying for a more calm mommy spirit. I am in need of God’s grace, patience, and wisdom when dealing with her. She is head strong like her mama! I am praying that God will use her strong will for His Glory in her life. To tell ya the truth, I am NOT looking forward to those teen years with her (or my other 2 girls’ teen years!) Glad I have one boy! Maybe he won’t be so much DRAMA! Ha! TY for these words. May I be more like that when I feel the pressure…. God Bless you and your awesome ministry!

  27. 29
    Tatia Cook says:

    Your honesty is beautiful and so challenging, Lisa-Jo!! Thank you for sharing with such truthful abandon! God uses your words, not only for your family’s good, but for ours as well. This sent me over the edge:
    “somewhere between my brain and my tongue someone rescued me from myself and a gentle spirit slipped grace between my selfish syllables.” Isn’t that what we all crave?

    By the way…I live in your area and am keeping my eyes open to see you somewhere. So, when a stranger wants to wrap arms around your neck and tell you what a blessing you are, don’t be afraid…it’s only me :-)

  28. 31

    Well now I’m tingling all over. Oh the grace and the Beauty and the utter forgiveness and the complete Jesus-love. Let us just sit in this Kingdom space for a while for it is stunning.

  29. 32

    Everything about this screamed me! I have been in this very same hallway… Being a mother of boys can rattle you to the core sometimes. I love my boys and I too will fight for them till the end. Praise the Lord.

  30. 33

    Beautiful grace moment.

  31. 34

    This is powerful. I had tears in my eyes I read it. My daughter is just 3 and we are already having ‘head-butting’ moments where my patience wears thin and my words need to be carefully chosen. Thank you for the reminder that words need to be spoken in grace. <3
    (Also: love the Bafana shirt. You need some Protea and Bokkie shirts too, methinks ;))

  32. 35

    Oh Just This. To read these words after feeling the hands on my shoulder and hearing the intense love in your words when you told me this story at Allume. My heart is forever changed and I pray that Someone will also catch my words and turn it all back to grabbing love and profound sunggles!

    Thank you for this grace moment.

    • 36

      And you know what? Telling you the story is what helped me start writing it in my head and thinking about sharing it over here. So thank you for that.

  33. 37

    My sobs join yours. Your writing is powerful.

  34. 38

    wow, heavenly graces. love this…so beautiful.

  35. 39

    Oh, never forget His grace is sufficient and will always see us through those dark and tough times. You are doing a good job, it’s just hard. I know, mine are now 34 and 37 and I lived to tell about it. :o) Blessings to you!

  36. 40
    AineMistig says:

    Amen. This was perfect.

    Last night I read the scriptures about the poor widow’s offering, and a new meaning came to me (I put the verses below for anyone not familiar with it who might be reading it). I’ve always known this story to apply to finances, but what about it applying to other resources as well? Like emotional energy? When you’re completely worn out, down to all you have left to live on, and still give to your family, surely that has to be a holy sacrifice as well.

    Here is the biblical story from Mark 12:41-44:
    ” “Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

  37. 41

    This gave me chills. I know these days are coming for me. This week my three-year-old has put me through some heartbreaking moments. This parenting gig is super hard.

  38. 42

    This was so powerful!!!
    As I read this, I tearfully thought how much I wish that MY mother would have fought for ME. She had scars too. But when life got hard, she threw in the towel and left her family. She took off to have her own life, free of us.
    Your son is super blessed to have a mama who wants and needs him, and who will fight to keep that relationship! And knowing that a parent truly wants you is one of those things that gives a child the courage to face an unknown and scary world!

  39. 43
    Anneke Blignaut says:

    So much truth, so much healing, so much grace!!!!!


  1. [...] Today, I caught up a bit on my blog reading and read Lisa-Jo’s post How to have a temper tantrum. [...]

  2. [...] kept your temper all day against the onslaught of his. You’ve given grace and he’s yelled that he’s running away and started off down the block with face red and [...]

  3. […] How to have a temper tantrum @ Lisa-Jo Baker […]

Let's Chat