This change inside of me is not at all what I expected, but I thought I’d share some of my process with you in hopes that you will connect with some of it. In the last four months, I’ve had the chance to go on vacation twice with my little family. Once back home for the holidays, once to the Ocean for my mother-in-law’s birthday. Both times, I felt different in motherhood. I was at peace. I didn’t lose my patience. And I was genuinely enjoying my kids. After each trip, I took time to evaluate what was different. On vacation, my husband is sharing the “kid” responsibilities, I have minimal “life” responsibilities, there are minimal time constraints, and I am in constant “friendship” with my husband and others. In contrast, in my everyday life I often feel a dull loneliness and always the pressure of responsibilities and time schedules. These are very clear contrasts between vacation and real life.
I clearly can’t shirk my responsibilities and just live life “on vacation” all the time, but I have spent considerable time considering how to be at rest in my responsibilities. Only after this last vacation to the Ocean did experiencing rest in my responsibilities become a reality. Only as I found myself at rest and at peace in the midst of the responsibilities of motherhood did I find that my anger and frustration began to lessen and subside.
Many factors played into this shift inside me. As I shared in my last post, my very first step was praying for Jesus to transform my very heart. I knew that my struggle with anger would only cease when Jesus, through His redemptive work, actually changed my heart.
As I began praying for that, I began to come across a variety of resources and conversations that began to really help transformation take place. As I’ve been praying for transformation and as I’ve been living out the reality of the Gospel in front of my very young children, I have also had multiple friends share with me about their struggles with anger in motherhood. Each of us brokenhearted to even admit that anger is a struggle for us. Each of us honest. Each of us wanting something other than an angry, frustrated mom for our kids. And each of us praying for and pursuing transformation in our lives. Just knowing I was not alone in this struggle and subsequent pursuit of transformation was such a gift to me. When we believe we’re the only ones struggling with someone, we often hide that struggle, thinking that it is too much for anyone to know about us. When we share it, expose it, and discover that we are not alone, we then have a community to pursue life altering change with. One friend and I committed to praying for transformation in this area for each other.
Also over these past few months, I’ve read more than one blog post about women who struggle with anger in their parenting. One post especially helped bring some practical steps about in my life. To read that post, click here. The piece that was most impacted me from this post, was the idea of learning to identify my triggers to anger and then work to prevent those as best as possible. As I began to pay attention to the times that I was getting angry, I discovered that almost always, I had waited too long to eat and was losing my patience because I was honestly just hungry…and irritable as a result. Dealing with this trigger took some adjusting for me. I have had to prioritize eating and snacking. I have had to choose to put off certain chores just to stop and eat a snack, knowing that eating a piece of bread with peanut butter is actually going to make me a better mom, even if it means putting off seemingly urgent chores just a few more minutes.
This leads me to the next and biggest shift for me. All of my life I have been a master of time and tasks. I almost always know exactly what time it is without even looking at a clock. I am highly skilled at organizing tasks efficiently and effectively, accomplishing the most possible with the time I’ve been given. This truly is a gift. And I do not despise this gift. In fact, I love it. Too much, sometimes. In reflecting on the difference in me on vacation and me at home, I was struck with the fact that on vacation I was focused on enjoying and being, while at home, I am focused on accomplishing and maintaining. While there is always plenty to get done at home, focusing things has often meant that I am missing the people for whom I am doing all things anyway. The trick for me has been to learn how to carry responsibilities and live with time constraints of everyday life without letting those things cancel out the enjoyment of my life and family. This has meant that I have had to shift my thinking about my home and family from a task-oriented paradigm to a presence-oriented paradigm. For me, this means choosing to not pay attention to the clock but paying attention to my boys and my husband. This means organizing my tasks in such a way that they get done at convenient times, releasing those tasks for set apart times rather than feeling the pressure of them all the time. I am approaching our home and life responsibilities differently.
As Jesus is transforming my heart reality through His redemptive work AND these practical steps, I am actually feeling so very different inside myself. I am at peace. At rest. And enjoying this crazy reality of motherhood. I am not on the brink of losing it if just one thing gets out of control. My boys are so much more at peace. And my husband is loving the way our home feels.
There has been an even deeper level to my transformation in this area, which I will share in my next (and final) post on anger in motherhood.