Confessions of a Minivan Mom: Mom Anger, Guilt & Shame

Hello blog world!! It has been waaay too long since I have written last. I have had all kinds of things to write about, yet no time to do it. Since I last wrote, we found out we are having baby #3 in August, we sold our house and bought and moved into our new one! Today, my sweet hubby finally had some off time so I was able to get my hair done (hadn’t been done since December… yikes!) and he let me have the rest of the day to myself. He asked me what time I would be home, and I told him not to put that kind of pressure on me ;)

Anyhow. Out of all the things I am bursting at the seams to write about, this is the thing that I think is the most important.

It all started a few weeks ago. When we found out we were having another girl, we knew we wanted to have a really special nook for Emerson to kind of “escape to” in his new room. So in his room, we removed his closet door, hung a fun curtain in its place, and bought him a special reading chair.  He has this awesome little window in his closet and a built in book shelf. We have some grandiose dreams of making him a really cool reading closet/nook, complete with a sign that says "no grown-ups allowed" at his request. Lol.

Because Trice was working, I, trying to be supermom, hung the curtain myself. I went and bought all the hardware, climbed up on a step stool with my big pregnant belly, got out my hubby’s drill set, and I went to town. And let me just tell you, the curtain was ADORABLE. Out of all the rooms in the house, Emerson’s room is the MOST finished. And hanging that curtain brought a sense of completion and accomplishment to me. We hadn’t had any sense of normalcy for the several months of the selling, packing, traveling and moving in process, so it gave this momma joy to see a room come to life.

So last week, I was applying makeup in the bathroom for the first time in about two weeks (the struggle is REAL!), and Emerson and Etta Jayne were playing in Emerson’s little reading/toy closet. Emerson came running into my room and told me that the curtains fell. I so sweetly said, “That’s okay sweetie. Mommy can just put them back up.” Then I went in the room and saw that they didn’t just merely fall. They were yanked down beyond me being able to just do a quick fix. Apparently my darling daughter thought it would be absolutely fun to hang on the curtains. Needless to say, the curtains came crashing down, the rod is bent in half and now I have to drill even more holes in my wall.

Yall. This was not that big of a deal. Etta Jayne was not being a malicious two-year old. She was just simply playing with the new set of curtains and didn’t realize that swinging on them like a monkey would have consequences.

And I just lost it. Amidst all the crazy of my day, it just brought a little more stability to know that one room in the house was finished. And now, the ONE thing that I had the ability to successfully accomplish had been torn down by the cutest pair of pudgy hands that you ever did see. 

So I yelled. And I screamed. And I threw a temper tantrum. And I yelled at Etta, asking her what in the world she was thinking. And I yelled at Emerson and told him that he should have stepped up as the big brother and told Etta not to hang on the curtains. I then stamped my feet and huffed and puffed as I tried to figure out how to get the curtains back up.

After getting all of that off of my chest, I immediately knew that I was in the wrong. I pulled my cuties to my side and told them that Mommy was very sorry. I told them that mommies shouldn’t yell. And we prayed together and I asked Jesus to help me not to yell at my kids anymore.

But then the shame crept in.

“Why do I keep yelling at my kids?”

“They deserve more than this.” 

“Anyone else in this world could parent them better than me.”

 “Yes, other moms SAY they yell at their kids, but I guarantee you nobody yells as ugly as me.”

 “I failed again. My kids are going to be ruined. What if I have done irreparable damage to their hearts?”

I started thinking that I needed to call my section leader at the church and tell her I needed to be removed from leadership. I mean, how can I be a leader when I struggle with yelling at my kids?

 I even went so far as to think that maybe someone else would be better off raising them. “I just keep screwing it up,” I thought. Someone else could do better.

I shot my hubby a quick text and told him what had happened. I told him I yelled but had repented, but that I couldn’t shake the shame, and I asked him to pray for me.

Fast forward two days. I am hanging out with a girlfriend, and she tells me that she, too, had a meltdown the same day. The next day I am hanging out with 2 other mom friends, and they both tell me that they are struggling with getting angry at their kids, too. I hang out with a fourth friend this weekend, and she confesses that she, too, frequently struggles with yelling at her kids.

We have gotten two lessons on parenthood this semester in our Titus 2 group at the church, and both of these mamas kept referring to the anger they felt in the early years of motherhood.

So what is the deal? Why is there such a struggle? What is the deal with all this mom anger and frustration? 

I believe for everyone it’s different, but for me, the struggle with the anger didn’t truly start a few weeks ago when my daughter pulled down the curtains. I remember Emerson being a few days old, and he just WOULDN’T latch. In fact, he was 6 weeks old before he finally latched properly. I remember sitting in my rocking chair just bawling my eyes out and asking my baby why he kept hurting his mommy. “Why can’t you just latch right?” “Why do you hurt me?” I remember that feeling, once again, feeling like every other mom could just whip out a breast and nurse her child effortlessly. I remember being so frustrated. I was doing all the right things. I was tilting his head just right, my arms were right where they were supposed to be, I was following all the directions from the lactation consultant, but he just WOULDN’T latch.

The hard thing about motherhood is that it is an area where we as moms lack control because our children are not robots. We can read all the right books, do all the right discipline techniques, and parent just the right way, but they will still disobey. We can feed them the right foods, give them the right vitamins, wash their hands a million times a day, but they will still get sick. We can take them out on dates, buy them cool new toys, and get them sweet treats, but they will still want more. We can play choo choo trains, provide an amazing homeschool education, and snuggle with them an hour before bedtime, but they will still whine for us to spend more time with them. We can clean up the toys in one room only to have them pull out the toys in the other room. 

The frustration for me is that no matter how hard I try, I just can’t quite get the results I want. I am overcome daily with feelings of failure. All throughout school, I knew that if I just studied my notes, read my chapters and put some facts to memory, then I would get an A on my tests. And I always did. It is soooo not the same way with motherhood. And if you parent with the mindset that A + B = C then you too are going to feel like a failure as a mom.

The truth is that MOTHERHOOD IS HARD. Motherhood is a STRUGGLE. But it is the most sacred and important role that there is. And I think that is why Satan is on the prowl attacking moms left and right. He is peeking around the corner just waiting for you to yell at your kids so you can start feeling shame. Because he knows that when you feel shame, you will no longer feel fit for the job.

But the truth is, nobody in this world can parent your children better than you can. Out of all the possible sperm and egg combinations in the world, God paired just the right ones together for YOU to parent YOUR CHILD. 

I think a lot of the anger that we deal with is because our children don’t meet up with our expectations. They don’t sit still at the restaurant. They scream in the grocery basket. They throw their eggs on the floor. They hit one another. They tell you “No” when you ask them to do something. And all of this adds up and brings frustration when you are so determined to do this thing the right way.

I remember a few years ago hearing a preacher talk about how God was the perfect parent, and Eden was the perfect atmosphere, yet Adam & Eve still sinned. HOW FRUSTRATING must that have been? But God didn’t feel shame because He knows Who He is. He knows His identity. And as a mom, I need to know what my identity is as well. I need to know the identity of my children.

I need to remember that God gently leads those with young.

I need to remember that I am equipped for every good work.

I need to remember that I am a daughter of the King, and that I am seated in places of honor and favor.

I need to remember that I am not perfect, but I am being perfected day in and day out in this season of motherhood.

I need to remember that I am covered by grace.

I need to remember that my kids are set apart as holy.

I need to remember that they are a blessing from the Lord.

I need to remember that that they are kingdom children whom God wants to use to do big things.

As a mom, we all have struggles. And the greatest tool of the Enemy is isolation. The actual act of yelling at my children was way less detrimental than the shame that overcame me after. I am here to let you know that you are not alone.

Motherhood was never meant to be done alone.

What a relief it was to chat with some of my friends last week and know that I was not the only one in the world who yelled at her kids. But I was also thankful that these women are godly women who don’t just want to settle for “blowing up at their kids” as being a regular thing. We need to surround ourselves with friends who will tell us when we are wrong and support us to make the changes we need to make. We need friends to hold us accountable. We need friends who push us to be better while covering us with grace when we make mistakes.

My heart is to see moms come alongside one another and support one another, providing a safe place for each other to share feelings of anger, shame or guilt. My heart is to see moms checking in with each other and keeping each other accountable. My heart is to see moms lending a helping hand and being so in tune to one another that we know when the other needs a break.

A few months ago, a report came out about a mom in Frisco, Texas, who was found dead in her car in a Target parking lot. Her three children were still alive in the car when they were found several days later (I just can’t even). It was recently reported that this momma died of an intentional overdose. Friends who knew her said she was “overwhelmed.” She was doing all the right things. But she felt alone. She felt isolated. And she chose to end her life.

Mrs. Woo from Frisco was not alone. My friend struggling with a child that is borderline autistic is not alone. I am not alone. But Satan wants us to think we are. He wants us to blow up at our kids and then sit in our shame after. He doesn’t want us to reach out for help. Because it’s when we bring our struggles out from the darkness and into the light that healing can begin.

So where do your struggles lie? Do you struggle with an internal anger as a mom? Do you struggle with feelings of failure? Do you beat yourself up because you just can’t seem to stop yelling at your kids? Do you struggle with thinking every other mom has it all together?

Moms are hurting everywhere. We have a giant target on our backs because we are SO important. Our children NEED us. And I don’t want to see even ONE more mom take her life or hurt her children. We have got to stick together as a giant community of moms and set aside the mom judgment and differences on education or immunizations or whether or not you feed your kids white bread. Let’s make space for one another to flourish and set one another up to succeed.

If you are struggling with feelings of failure or with anger, reach out to someone today. If you don’t have someone to reach out to, contact me, and I would love to pray with you and encourage you.

For me personally, I have reached out to several of my friends and am meeting with a pastor next week to talk through some of the anger I have been feeling that stems from my feelings of failure. When we bring our struggles to the light, it makes room for God to bring healing to our hearts. And what an example for our children to see that we are not perfect, but that we are covered by the grace that is found in Jesus. What an example we can set by showing them that although we may sin, we can remain confident in the fact that we are righteous because of what Christ did on the cross. Our children don't need perfect moms. They need real moms who aren't afraid to repent when they make mistakes. They need moms who will love them to the best of their ability.

Please don’t remain alone. You are so important and so valued and so loved.

Father, thank you for this sacred calling that is motherhood. Thank you that you have equipped us for every good work. Thank you that we do not have to do everything perfectly because we are covered under your grace. Help us as we parent to parent with wisdom. Help us to be the best moms we can be. Give us strength on the days where we feel like we are losing our minds. And give us help. Lots of help. Provide friends and mentors and families to stand alongside us and encourage us on this parenthood journey. We refuse to believe the lies that we are failures, and instead choose to realign ourselves with the truth today. You are such a good Father. In Jesus’ name. Amen.