Warning: This is a true story. And it’s not a pretty one!
I’m trying to fix dinner. Baby Bear is fussing in his baby seat. Then he starts screaming at me because I’ve left him too long. So I grab him and hope the pasta doesn’t boil over.
Then C comes in the house, asks what’s for supper, “Homemade macaroni and cheese with Grandma’s ham” I say. *whine* *whine* *whine* “Fine, then you can leave the house and we’ll eat supper without you.”
Biscuit comes in the house doing the potty dance. Refuses to go potty when I tell him he should. Most likely because I told him. I’m pretty sure that, if I would have kept my big mouth shut, he would have realized sooner what his body was trying to tell him. But he doesn’t, just to prove a point. Just to irk me. I tell him “Fine. If you pee in your pants then you can do your own laundry.”
I’m stressed by Baby Bear, mad at C, mad at Biscuit, and mad at myself.
Deep breaths. I don’t want to be a cranky mommy. I can’t control cranky kids but I can make different choices for my own attitude. What if someone walked into my house in the midst of these exchanges? Would they see how much I love my children? Probably not. I heard a mom yell at her kids in the parking lot one time and I swore I would never do that. I only had one child at that point and C was/is a pretty compliant and content kid. Now, I’ve totally snarked at my kids in the parking lot. I’m sure people have overheard. Humbling.
More deep breaths. I don’t want to be a cranky mommy. I start counting my blessings: Sturdy house with a working furnace. Healthy food. Husband who will come in from work soon and help finish up supper and put kids to bed. Three absolutely beautiful boys who I wouldn’t trade for anything (most days). Parents who live next door and my Dad who regularly takes time to come over and connect with his grandsons. Friends nearby. Loving church family.
As I count my blessings and thank God for them, amazing things start to happen.
My heartbeat starts slowing down and breaths become easier to take. C takes Baby Bear, who I have had to put back in his seat to deal with the boiling pasta, and gets him giggling within seconds. C has a true gift for making people feel good and Baby Bear has a ridiculosly contageous laugh. Biscuit heads outside, still wearing clean pants. He potty trained himself just after his second birthay. He hasn’t had an accident in ages.
It’s not always easy to stay calm and loving when it feels like things around are spinning out of control. My older two have seen me struggle with postpartum depression and, unfortunately, seen cranky/angry mommy more often than I would like to admit. But God is merciful and has forgiven me. (As have my boys.) He is also the Healer of my soul and He continually works in my heart and body to keep depression at bay. Much of my cranky behavior is due to bad habits I have picked up during some of the low points of my life.
Three tips to overcoming “cranky mommy”
Figure out your triggers:
Your triggers may be very different than mine, or anyone else’s, but I’d like to share mine. Perhaps you can relate or perhaps reading them will lead you to finding out some of your own.
Fatigue is my biggest trigger so I make sure to (usually) go to bed on time. I know that I’m much more likely to stay calm if I’m rested. I have a persistent alarm on my phone so I cannot forget. I am continually working on improving my diet and finding other natural methods to increase my energy level and alertness. All mothers know how easily we can slip into sacrificing so much of ourselves for everyone else. A mother must have a servant heart but even Jesus needed to take time to refresh Himself so He could be the ultimate servant for His children. Be like Jesus. Refresh yourself.
Another of my triggers is feeling unheard, which often gets aggravated by unrealistic expectations of my children’s capability for obedience. It gets frustrating to have to repeat a direction 10 times only to have it finally responded to and then your child only carries it out halfway. “Put your dirty socks in the laundry hamper,” is simple and direct. But it is often ignored and then the socks end up being dropped in the kitchen or on the couch or bookshelf (my kids aren’t the only ones who do this, are they?) because a little boy was too distracted to bring them the to the hamper. I feel that my request is more important that the current game my son is playing. I take it personally when they don’t listen and obey.
Identify your Habits:
Many of our reactions in a frustrating or stressful situation are based on habits. Whether these are picked up from our homes as we grew up or whether they developed based on our personality type, figuring out how we react to our triggers can help us find healthier ways to deal. Yelling, physically lashing out (needing to throw, slam, or punch something), belittling, sarcasm, accusations, etc. There are so many negative habits we have developed
Replace Negative with Positive Habits:
What are some positive ways you can react when you realize your limits have been reached? Find a process that works for you.
The first thing I do is pray. It can be a simple as whispering a quick “help me God!” or you could step back from the situation and pray more in depth asking God to help you handle your emotions and for help to deal with the current situation that triggered your negativity. No matter how badly you want to gain control of your emotions, you will be fighting and uphill battle unless you learn to make prayer your first response.
Take a few deep breaths and focus on relaxing and releasing the tension. This will help your body get out of “fight mode” and will open pathways in your brain to allow for clearer thought and reasoning abilities.
Lastly, I like to walk myself through a basic assessment to see whether the issue at hand is worth the intense emotions I’m feeling or if I’m totally overreacting (truth: 95% of the time I’m overreacting). I ask myself, will this matter in 5 years? What will happen if things don’t go the way I want/hope? How would I like to be treated if I was on the other side of this situation?
Confessions of a Yelling Mom (Now Reformed) – Lisa, from Club 31 Woman, shares a bit of her story of how she overcame her habit of yelling to develop a habit of peace.
5 Ways to Overcome the Yelling Mom – Jamerill, at The Better Mom, explains how motherhood can magnify the sinful flesh and shares her best tips to continue growing toward becoming a more gentle, peaceful, patient, and loving mother.
How to Control Your Emotions, So They Don’t Control You by Brooke McGlothlin – a practical, highly usable, biblical model for submitting your emotions to the authority of the Word of God. After you read it, you’ll be equipped with information you can put into place immediately to start seeing a difference in your heart.
She’s Gonna Blow! by Julie Ann Barnhill – For every mom seeking here-and-now hope and help to…find healthier ways of expressing anger; let go of “control” issues and be more positive; and draw closer to the God who created moms and mothering.
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