Mothering is such hard work. Also: worth it.

It was my turn to teach Relief Society couple of weeks ago, and I decided, for my own sake, to teach about anger management.  I called my lesson “A Soft Answer Turneth Away Wrath” (from Proverbs 15:1.)  I got some good inspiration and ideas as I prepared for and taught the lesson, and I’ve really been trying to make changes.   Yesterday, though, after a very frustrating afternoon, when Dean got home from work I was seething and only managing not to rage at a certain child by staying in my bedroom.  I told Dean I needed saving and to take us all out to dinner, which he did.  In the car, after telling him my litany of complaints against the child in question, I told him, “It ought to help that I tell myself that I’m just as much a naughty child in Heavenly Father’s eyes as [child in question] is in my eyes, but instead it just makes me feel doubly bad.  Maybe not getting angry doesn’t have to mean not giving myself credit for parenting to be really really hard and frustrating sometimes.”  Later it also occurred to me that it would have helped my mood to instead focus on Heavenly Father’s love for me, and His compassion for how challenging my job sometimes is.

Also, one of the things that was making me mad yesterday was that since child-in-question hadn’t completed (in fact had hardly seemed to attempt) some chores, I was going to have to supervise that child again today and we were going to endlessly repeat the pattern of the child’s inactivity and my futile and frustrated supervision.  Fortunately, though, somehow the cycle got broken, and today the child has diligently done chores without much supervision.  As an added grace, I was blessed with extra patience during the following scenario from today, that happened with a different child.

Here are some verses from the Doctrine and Covenants that someone brought up during my lesson:

Doctrine and Covenants 121:41-44 [emphasis mine]

No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;

By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—

Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;

That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.

Here’s the scene; I think you’ll be able to see how the scripture applies.

A loud clunk. Then Henry shrieking. Then Mabel shouting, “Mom, Rose hit Henry with a book.”

I’ve heard that you should always first lavish attention on the injured kid (rather on the injurer) so first I attend to Henry, find out where it hurts, kiss his forehead, and cuddle him. Once he seems okay, I turn to Rose. “We don’t throw books at people, and you hurt Henry, so you have to go in your nap right now.” Rose shrieks, “I’m sorry! I don’t want to go in my nap! I want more lunch!” She’s already had nachos and a slice of turkey and some honeydew melon and a couple of bites of a pickle, so I know there’s no danger of her starving. “I’m glad you’re sorry, but you still have to go in your nap.” Rose shrieks some more and throws herself at the floor. “I said I’m sorry! And I want more lunch!” I ask, “Are you going to walk to your nap, or do I have to carry you?” “I’m not going to walk!” I grab for her and can only get hold of her feet, so I drag her a few inches feet-first on the carpet. I say, “Stop kicking me so I can carry you without hurting you.” She allows me just enough leeway between kicks to get a grip under her arms and lift her. I carry her to her bed, where she continues kicking and also slaps at me. I grab her legs and she stops kicking, but continues trying to slap me, so I grab her wrists. I say, “Do you want your Lambie?” “No! I don’t want a nap! I want more lunch!” “You have to have your nap now because you hurt Henry. And if you don’t stay in your nap and sleep, you won’t get to play with S. after your nap.” “I don’t want my nap! I said I’m sorry!” “Do you know why we’re not supposed to throw books at our brothers?” “Why?” “Because Heavenly Father gave us families so we can be kind to each other and help each other. Are you going to lie still or do I have to keep holding your legs?” She tries to slap me again, so I grab her wrists again. After a minute more of halfhearted struggling, she says, “I do want Lambie! I’m going to get her myself!” I say, “Okay,” and let her go look for her favorite toy lamb. She says, “I want to play with S. after my nap!” “That’s fine–I don’t know if S. will be able to play, but if she can, you can play with her after your nap.” As she heads back to her bed, I say, “Here, give me a hug.” As I put my arms around her and stroke her hair, she takes deep gulps of air and lets them out with shuddering sighs, and I feel her shoulders relax as she returns my hug. “I love you, Rose.” “I love you too, Mommy.”

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9 Responses to Mothering is such hard work. Also: worth it.

  1. Melanie J says:

    This actually makes me feel much better about myself as a parent because I can so totally relate.

  2. Or you can tell her if she doesn’t stop right now you will take her by the left leg and throw her down the stairs. Just kidding.

  3. I’m reading this with tears in my eyes. I think anger management is a perfect lesson topic for R.S. I wish I could sit in on your lesson.

    No mama is immune to raising her voice (unless she has laragytis) or getting angry (unless she is a robot). We are human. I’ve snapped too many times to count with my own children. WHat’s helped me to is recognize what are my triggers, and then work on redirecting myself in better directions in which I can discipline & love my children. It’s work…something I’m still working at.

  4. Mrs. Organic says:

    I love how you handled that – it’s inspiring.

    And going to your room is okay too. I think it shows a lot of restraint, actually.

  5. zstitches says:

    Yeah, going in my room is progress for me. But it was also good that Dean got home when he did. 🙂

  6. Heather says:

    Ugh, you’re giving me flashbacks to my kids’ tantrums!

  7. Lili says:

    Z, I don’t tell you enough how much I admire you as a mother (and in so many other ways), and I consider myself very lucky to have three sisters with beautiful families who will have been there and done that when I’m having to lock myself in my room so that I don’t rage at my own children…

  8. Acheté says:

    Make me cry, will you. Sheesh.

  9. American Yak says:

    Thanks for that, Zuh. I’ve been dealing with anger mgmt. most of my life, so this hits home in a nice way, not that I have the extraordinary opportunity of learning from my children yet. (For me it’s more of an exorcizing thing…but I digress…)

    As to your point about feeling “doubly bad,” I heartily agree in the alternative views you’re after! Learning to love myself in spite of myself has been a most riddling, vexing, and taxing equation. Who are we not to be? Children? Yeah, I find it encouraging to try and think of how God loves others and how he loves me too.

    Feel doubly good. 😉

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