I have this picture in my head of the kind of mom I want to be. I want to be the kind of mom that’s surrounded by her children and yet never seems frazzled. The kind of mom that never raises her voice or loses her temper. The kind of mom that is always patient and loving.
I want this so badly. I made a commitment when Aidan was born to be very careful about the words I use with him. I try to stop myself when I’m about to say something I’ll regret. And I work hard to control my temper and refrain from yelling or venting my frustrations on him. This quote from Karen Ehman’s book Keep it Shut has become my mantra: “Don’t say something permanently painful just because you are temporarily ticked off.” (This is a GREAT book, by the way. Check out my review to learn more!)
Read more about My Vision for Motherhood.
But sometimes … I mess up. Even though I try so hard to restrain myself, sometimes the words come spilling out. Sometimes I yell. A few times I’ve just flat out had a temper tantrum of my own. I’m not proud of it, but it happens.
And I instantly regret it. When I see the hurt look on my son’s face, the quivering lip, the tears welling, I know immediately that I’ve messed up. And I’m filled with guilt and remorse.
Every time I lose my cool, I become so frustrated with myself. Frustrated that in spite of all my good intentions, I lacked the self-control to follow-through … again. Frustrated that I failed another “opportunity” to grow my patience. Frustrated … that I’m not perfect.
But beating myself up about it isn’t going to change anything or take back what was said. It’s good to recognize the mistake and continue to strive for kindness and patience, but guilt and self-degradation aren’t going to do me or my parenting any favors. What’s done is done. I can use my missteps as learning tools or motivation to choose differently next time, but I cannot erase the past.
So what can I do when I lose my cool if I can’t take back my words or tone?
If I can’t be that perfect mom that never yells, at least I can be quick to say “I’m sorry.” Those times that I can see I have wounded my son’s heart or I know that I’ve reacted badly to a situation, I am quick to come to his side, give him a hug, and say, “Mommy’s sorry, honey. I shouldn’t have done that. I love you.”
The wonderful thing about toddlers is that they are very good forgivers! Ten times out of 10 when I do that, he will wrap his little arms around my neck and smile at me. All is forgiven. In the future, I’m sure it will not be so easy to repair the damage.
I’m still committed to being careful about my words. It’s still very important to me to not let my anger cause me to say or do something hurtful. Especially as my children get older and my words become “stickier.” It’s an honorable goal, I think, because the words we say have power, power to build and power to devastate.
But I also need to realize that I am human. And I need grace. Grace from the Lord, certainly, but also grace from myself. I will make mistakes. I will not be a perfect mother, no matter how determined I am to be one. Perfection as a benchmark can only, ONLY, lead to frustration. So rather than harangue myself over a mistake, the best thing to do is say, “I’m sorry.” To try to repair the relationship, and to model for my sons the virtue of humility. This shows them that I’m not perfect, demonstrates appropriate remorseful behavior, and gives them an opportunity to practice forgiveness.
Do you ever feel like you’re just not the mom you want to be? I’m sure you do – I think we all do! But I’m also sure that you are probably a better mom than you give yourself credit for. So the next time you mess up, be quick to say, “I’m sorry,” but then give yourself some grace and move on. There’s always tomorrow! 🙂
- Am I a Good Mom? 10 Things All “Good Moms” Do
- 6 Ways to Stay Calm When You’re About to Lose Control
- A Prayer for Every Mom
- The Sweatshirt That Made Me Feel Like a Phony