Every knee shall bow; every tongue confess.
Well, I’m on my knees right now confessing that I yelled at my kids today, and it wasn’t good.
It went something like this:
The kids came out of their bedrooms and sat down at the table with plates, bananas and peanut butter for a snack. Then they started yelling at each other over the peanut butter. I grabbed the jar out of my son’s hands and slammed it on the table and yelled. My son then threw his plate, which shattered all over the floor. Tears came to my daughter’s eyes as she froze in terror. My son then yelled “this is the worse day ever!” I yelled back about how yelling at each other over peanut butter was not how we did things in our family. It was then that I realized I was yelling about the very thing they were yelling about. Ouch.
Then we were all crying. My son was crying over my yelling and his feeling badly about the plate, asking through his tears if there was a way he could glue it back together. My daughter was crying because she was in shock and my tears were rolling because I realized that I had hurt and scared my children by yelling – again.
I’m not typically a yeller. But recently, yelling has become a thing for me. It wasn’t until today, though, that I realized that the anger my therapist has been talking to me about has started to seep up out of me and pour all over my children. It’s like lava pouring out of a volcano after years of sitting dormant. I realized that my therapist was right, part of the grieving process includes anger. And, no matter how much I tried to deny it, it was going to someday, someway show up. And it has, slowly but surely. That anger, of course, has nothing to do with my children’s yelling and it’s most definitely not about the peanut butter.
Have I loss someone, you wonder? Why the grief? Why the anger? Why the need to take it out on my children?
I’m not quite ready to share about the grief, but I can easily make a list of things that come to mind when I think about being mad and here they are:
I’m mad at cancer that took an aunt and a mother of a dear friend before trying to take my mom, the father of the same friend who lost his mom and another aunt.
I’m mad at depression that makes people (me) feel so badly they (I) can’t hardly get up some mornings.
I’m mad at anxiety that causes people (me) to push others away.
I’m (lovingly) mad at (and fully supportive of) my husband for leaving his job, but I’m even more mad at his boss for making him want to quit. (See post here about that fun story.)
I’m mad at my (birth) father who claims to have loved me but didn’t fight for me.
I’m mad at myself for not knowing how to help my 3rd grade son learn to read.
And I’m really pissed at myself for taking it out on my kids.
And that’s just to name a few.
I’ve never considered myself an angry person. I don’t really think I am. I am just a person who is just now learning that it’s okay to be mad. It’s even okay if I take it out on my kids every once in a-while because that is what grace is for and they need to know that anger is okay. They will ultimately learn from me how that anger should and can look, but not before I learn how, so back to my therapist’s office I now go, ready to admit that I’m mad and that I need help in learning how to deal with it all.
The phone rang shortly after the peanut butter, tears, and broken plate and it was my husband. I answer still crying and he asks if everything is okay. I tell him it’s not all okay. I lost it with the kids over peanut butter. He smiles. Or, at least I imagine he’s smiling, as he tells me so calmly, “How about I meet you and take the kids for a-while?” (This is why I’m not really mad about him leaving his job. He is so hard to be mad at. He’s so calm and he always makes me laugh, even when I tell him things like about my slamming a peanut butter jar down on the table and making the kids cry.)
Before we left the house to meet my husband, I hugged my children and told them I loved them and that mommy was so very sorry. I told them that I yelled at them about the very thing they were yelling about and that wasn’t okay. I told my son that I understood why he threw the plate. I told my daughter that I am sorry that I scared her. I told them that mommy is learning how to be angry and that I wasn’t very good at it. I told them that that is what we do as a family. We learn together. We even learn how to be angry together. We say we are sorry and we hug. We forgive each other and then we buy popsicles to make up for it.
My daughter then looks up at me smiling and says “good thing the peanut butter jar wasn’t glass otherwise we would have had an even bigger mess to clean up.” It’s the small things. We all laughed through the tears and made our way to the car.
I will end with this. A song. A hymn I had long forgotten about but heard for the first time in years just last weekend. It gave me comfort this afternoon after thinking about all the chaos that had ensued earlier in the day. The kids and I sang along with it together on the way to meet their dad - my son trying to figure out how drums would fit into it and my daughter adamantly claiming that Dolly Parton must have written the lyrics because it was so good.
Farther Along is the song and here are some of the lyrics:
Farther along we’ll know all about it.
Farther along we’ll understand why.
So cheer up my brothers (or mothers)
Live in the sunshine.
We’ll understand this all by and by.
Then my son asked if we could please play Patience by Guns N Roses. I’m not sure if that was on purpose or not. Either way it was a good reminder. I gotta have more patience but not necessarily less anger, just a better way to get it all out. I’m working on it.