Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper! It only leads to harm. Psalm 37:8
Many mornings and many afternoons I spend my time wresting “monsters.” On those mornings when our routine is blown, the “monster” is a frazzled and oversensitive 5 year old boy. But, on most mornings, the “monster” I wrestle is the tangled mess of hair that adorns my 7 year old’s head.
The wrestling begins with a reluctant stroll to the bathroom, endures through many a product to reduce said tangles, emits many a harsh word back and forth, and sometimes ends in tears.
On this particular morning, the tears were different. Hayley, my beautiful daughter, as I picked up the brush with more force than I should have…my daughter flinched.
You know…like the someone is going to hit me type of flinch. Why? Where would this come from?
What had all my screams, my pulls on her tender head done to her? My daughter was afraid. And she was afraid of me!
“Fathers (or mothers), do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged.” Colossians 3:21
I have become the yelling mother. The stressed, overextended, overly exhausted mom who yells and screams over the slightest nuisances.
I am the mother I was afraid of becoming.
I am the mother my daughter is afraid of.
It is no secret that many mother-daughter relationships are confusing and full of conflict. There have been many a book and article written on the subject. My relationship with my own mother left a lot to be desired until I became a mom myself. Until I actually needed her as a mom. As a friend.
In fact, my relationship with my own daughter didn’t begin on the best terms. See, she was a difficult baby. Due to acid reflux she cried through the day. She cried through the night. She cried in the hours between feedings. She cried in her swing. She cried in my arms. She felt every tense and weary emotion I felt, and she screamed while I lay on the bathroom floor having a few cries of my own. For 6 to 9 months, she completely broke me.
Now at 7, she is stubborn as a mule, as strong-willed as an ox, and as angry at times as a bull. And, sometimes she still has the power to completely break me.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
And, now…in this bathroom, I have completely broken her. Because she is scared, and she is scared of me.
Here I am. A mom who can wrestle this girl’s 5 year old brother. Restrain him in the middle of the bedroom floor. Listen to his ear piercing screams. Try with all my strength to keep him from harming himself. I do this with all the calm I can muster.
But, I can’t wrestle a few tangles without getting angry. Without yelling at the child who inherited my attitude and sass. Without igniting fear in my daughter.
My daughter. Who is scared. Who is scared of me.
And realizing this has completely broken me.
For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right. 1 Peter 3:10-12
I don’t know that there will not come another day when my daughter will not completely break me, but I can guarantee my words will never break her again. I can promise she and God that instead of provoking tears while wrestling my morning “monster,” I will wrestle her tangles gently, use my words to soothe her tender head, and use this with all the calm I know I have mustered before. Through His strength and His guidance.
I can’t guarantee she will never be scared, but I can guarantee she will never again be scared of me.