The other day I was walking the aisles at one of my all-time favorite places to browse when I have spare time; Target. I was blissfully snacking on my Popcorn Combo when all of a sudden, out of no where, my attention was distracted by what sounded like a heard of cows trampling through the Dollar Bin section. Instinctively I turned my head toward the noise to find it was no heard of cows at all, but two very enthusiastic and eager young boys followed closely behind by their somewhat flustered mother. “This ought to be good,” I thought to myself, so I hid out in the nearby lingerie section hoping to learn an ancient Chinese secret from a mom who is experiencing a scenario I too am very familiar with. The clamor came closer and closer and the footsteps seemed to quicken their pace. “What is she going to do? They are about to make their great escape!” I waited in anticipation. “Boys, use your indoor feet and your indoor voices,” the mom calmly ordered the boys. “What?? That’s it??” I thought to myself. “She has GOT to be kidding! There is no way those crazy kids are going to respond to that.” I stepped out from behind the purple nightie I was pretending to be way too interested in and started to continue my browsing thinking I’d learned absolutely nothing from this mom. To my surprise, when I stepped back into the main aisle I saw a cart, flanked by two young boys being pushed by a seemingly very calm and together mother. “This can’t be the same troop I just saw five minutes ago.” Indeed it was. Another “Ahh-haa” moment for the Dolly Mama.
As I munched on my popcorn and sipped my Diet Coke, my browsing became limited to watching the mom with the screaming Mimis. Although they were still a little excitable, there they were, sticking close to the cart, at a medium pace. Of course, I began thinking WWDMD (What would Dolly Mama Do) if it was my kids sprinting through the store in an uncontrollable rage. My first thought was “I would probably yell at them.” And that made me sad.
In my life as a mom, this is the one area where I feel I struggle the most. My kids can get crazy and sometimes, I get a little crazy along with them. When they yell, before I know it, I am yelling and I feel like instead of their mom, I am their sibling. That’s not a cool feeling. I raise my voice to try to get their attention, to elicit a response or to let them know that “Mommy is serious.” Sometimes I don’t even realize I am yelling. There have been many occasions when my sweet, unsuspecting husband comes home from work after I’ve had one of “those days” and overhears a “conversation” between my kids and me and gives me the “don’t yell” look. I just look back at him with the “Oh, that is not EVEN yelling so shut up,” look. My logical brain knows he is right, but my emotional brain just doesn’t want to hear it at that moment.
Many times I see myself in my kids, and not necessarily in a way that makes me very proud. I think they tend to react to situations the way they have seen me react. The other day, my youngest son did something that my oldest did not like. My oldest then yells at him and pushes him down on the floor. I was in disbelief that my oldest son would let something so small irritate him to the point where he just blows up. I grabbed him by the arm and pulled him into his room for a “talk.” As I am giving him the shpeel about how you can’t get so angry over little things, that you should take a minute before you react, yada, yada, yada, and it hit me smack in the face. He’s being mommy.
Here I was, doing to him EXACTLY what I was telling Jake not to do. I stopped in mid-sentence and stepped back and looked at my son as he was wiping the tears out of his eyes. A wave of guilt swept over me and I excused myself until I got my wits about me. After he served his sentence for his actions, I apologized to him and told him that I recognized that Mommy does that sometimes too and that we both needed to work at that. I even told him that I should put myself in time-out!
I thought and thought about that all night. “Oh God! What have I done to my kids! I have ruined them because I can’t control my level of frustration! They are going to have to go to years of counseling as an adult because of me!!” I prayed that I would be more aware of my actions and am able to take a step back every once in a while before I say something out of anger that I will truly regret. I continue to pray that prayer on a daily basis.
I started thinking of my kids behavior and how I do a lot of the same things I see them do. After I got over wondering to myself, “Am I really THAT annoying,” it kinda blew me away the many things, big and small that they pick up from me. I was listening to my kids bicker back and forth just a few minutes ago and I heard my youngest son bust out a resounding “whatever.” I had to check myself to make sure I wasn’t talking and didn’t even know it. I think I had just said that same phrase only minutes ago to my younger son when I was trying to get him in the car. He wanted me to bring some toy or something and I resisted for a long time, then, waving a mental white flag I gave in, but not without a little attitude. So, I got the toy (I think it was a red Power Ranger) and shoved it in his lap with a very sarcastic, “Whatever.”