Most of the time I can keep the yelling under control. When I hear the frustration and impatience rising in my voice, I try to modulate it back down to a more reasonable level. I am working on letting stuff go, and not always having to express my critical observation out loud. Sometimes I can even muster a fake calm voice when I’ve hit my limit, although the sarcasm seething through probably isn’t completely lost on my 5 year old Max.
However, some days, on my plate there is a pressing problem, or a lack of sleep, or a really long stretch without a break from the kids, and I completely lose my shit over something I should have handled better. Like last week when I looked into the van and saw my 5 year old hadn’t buckled up yet, despite my urgent instructions to do so to avoid being late for school.
I relinquished control to the rage and let those angry lashes shoot out of my mouth and wound him on his psyche. A child should not see his mother like that, feeling so much rage toward this innocent little person, who hasn’t got everything figured out, but who is learning every day about his self-worth and relationships from me.
Later, when I apologized for my behavior, Max told me, with a tinge of sad resignation in his voice, “You yell at me, so I am going to yell at my kids.” I felt stunned by the wisdom of his words, how at only 5 years old he had figured out some of life’s greatest lessons: we are all inter-connected, our actions have wide-reaching effects, and children learn how to treat others directly from their parents.
So, the happiness of my future grandchildren is in my hands, and the happiness of their children, and so on. To some degree, I am responsible for all those that descend from me. Will I make mistakes? Certainly. But I cannot ignore this incredible responsibility I’ve been given to stretch and shape myself into a stronger person, with greater self-control. I will not alienate my children or cause them to feel unloved. I must be the matriarch who looks past daily annoyances and models lightheartedness.
Kids will remember yelling, and kids will remember love. I look into the future, and I choose love.