I was horrified!
I never ever expected to be so angry with my little ones that I would yell at them. They were my perfectly precious, sweet-pea scented babies. I held them to my breast to nourish them with milk, I lulled them to sleep with lullabies, and baptized them with blessings. Oh, the spread I laid out for my first born’s first birthday party! That child was my everything, and though I was worn down a bit by the physical strain of that first year, my heart overflowed with gratitude. I delighted in every new word, each wobbly step that turned to the pitter-patter of running feet.
What happened to me?
A sibling was born, then another, and the pressure on my weary shoulders was compounded by the emotional strain of parenting real live people, with personalities and wills of their own. Their father, my husband, began traveling for work; the baby wouldn’t sleep at night; and my hormone’s couldn’t find their way back to a healthy balance. Then came the day the preschooler melted down over goldfish in the grocery store, how the toddler joined in with screams in Dolby sound, waking the baby who had been sleeping like a miracle through our errands. That was the day I finally broke.
On aisle 10, beside the spaghetti sauce and canned tomato paste.
They were the first hot tears I’d ever known, coming like a flash flood. Though I understand in hindsight that I was simply frustrated and exhausted, in the moment all I felt was anger. Intense anger at my three precious children.
Perhaps you’ve known this sort of misplaced anger as well.
Following that first incident there have been plenty of times that joy gentleness and joy have eluded me. Those are the days I’m one constant stream of correction, exasperated sighs, and terse remarks… pouring out from my heart, up over my lips.
Late at night, when the shame from a graceless day overwhelms my soul, my husband often reminds me, gently, “Wendy, get some sleep. God’s new mercies will be waiting for you in the morning.” So I dry my eyes and fall asleep, believing:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3:22-23, ESV)
As the morning light shines in through my bedroom window like a silvery array of new strength, I am eager to love well my children again. “This is the day that the Lord has made,” I speak in hushed and hallowed tones, like a prayer, “I will delight and be glad in it.”
Sometimes my heart stays buoyed by those miraculous new mercies until lunchtime, other days they carry me till mid-afternoon -though every now and again I barely make it past breakfast.
I’m just being honest here, in the off chance my word’s resonate with one of you.
It was on one of those mothering mornings, when mercy seemed to fail, that I asked the Lord just what I was doing wrong. “Why do I start off the day in Your strength, but run out of gentleness long before the day is through?”
I felt Him whisper in reply, “You’re not gathering up those new mercies. And if you don’t gather enough, how can you give them it away?”
What I came to realize was simply this: while God’s mercies are limitless each morning, I need to actively gather them into my arms, press them to my breast, then live them out all day long like a spiritual discipline.
Gather the manna
Just as God provided manna for the Israelites in the desert, I believe that God sends us enough of His mercy at the start of each new day -enough to carry us through every difficult mothering moment. What we must do is gather it! Collect it there in His Word, in His Presence, each morning. And what we gather, as we abide in Him, whether 15 minutes or an hour and 15 minutes, must be the perfectly anointed amount to carry us all the way through.
Give the manna
Grace, I’ve heard it said, is God giving us what we don’t deserve. Mercy, however, is His withholding what we do. We deserve His anger and punishment. Because He has extended mercy instead, we can do. When we gather up His mercy toward us each morning, we have plenty of it in our arms to pass out liberally to our beloveds when they do wrong.
Gather new mercies, then give them away… all day long.
Dear Mom, I know that you love those little curls, her turned up nose, inquisitive eyes, and infectious laughter. You adore her, and are grateful that she’s yours. But the reality of real life parenting is hard some days, perhaps most. Sometimes your buttons get pushed, your switch gets flipped, and your anger is triggered.
Let me invite you to continue this conversation in the pages of a brand new book:
If you struggle with anger in your home from the sheer effort of it all, if you find yourself yelling at your children, and heavy laden with shame, I encourage you to order a copy of Triggers: Exchanging Parent’s Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses, by Wendy Speake and Amber Lia, published by BRU Publications, a division of The MOB Society. For more information about Triggers, visit us here.
Wendy Speake is the mother of three rough and tumble, strong-willed boys, who roll pell-mell all over each other (and their mother) most every day. Though she is a contributing writer for The MOB Society, we knew that her message about Mommy Anger isn’t limited to boy moms. Visit Wendy at wendyspeake.com, or follow her parenting adventures on Facebook or Instagram. Triggers is Wendy’s first book, co-authored with Amber Lia.