When my second son was born, just 18 months after my first son, I was not expecting to feel like I needed to sign up for anger management classes.
Oh yes, I had plenty of warning from people who had spied my very round pregnant belly. But somehow their warnings of “you are going to be busy” didn’t translate for me. I didn’t realize that by busy, they meant “you are going to be sleep deprived, your toddler will be confused by the new baby, your new baby will refuse to be consoled when he cries, your once orderly house will be turned upside down, and going from one child to two children will be one of the hardest adjustments you’ll ever make.”
But there I was in the kitchen, sleep deprived, with a newborn crying baby, an impatient toddler, a mess in every room of the house, discovering what “busy” meant, looked like, and felt like. I was trying to unload the dishwasher when my toddler, Job, came to assist me. The first thing he did was drop a plate on the floor.
And it broke. In several jagged pieces. My beautiful cinnabar Fiestaware dish. All over the floor.
That wasn’t the only thing that broke. The floodgates that were holding my weary body together also broke loose, and I lashed out at Job. “You can’t drop plates like that. You have to be careful. You broke Mommy’s dish” I screamed. Job burst into tears. His mommy hadn’t ever talked to him like that. I broke into tears, what was I doing? I hadn’t ever screamed like that at him before. But my frustration and exhaustion hadn’t finished spilling out; I scooped him up and deposited him into time-out. I was so angry I was trembling.
Over the next several days and weeks I continued to lose my temper. I couldn’t seem to pull myself together. It didn’t seem to matter if I was tired or fresh, when the tiniest inconvenience occurred, I came unglued.
I prayed desperately, God please help me. I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t do this.
Praise God, He heard my cry. One morning, through a prayer in the book “The Power of A Praying Wife,” He showed me that when I was in the thick of mothering, I needed to stop and pray. I needed to repent and turn from my unloving path.
At first, though, I found that when I was in a sketchy place with my kids and my attitude, praying was not the first thing that came to mind. What came to mind was “I’m quitting. I’m getting a job; I’m getting out of here.”
In my sane moments I began to ask God to help me to remember to stop and pray in my insane moments. I found that when things started to get tense, I needed to stop and take a deep breath before I proceeded. In that moment of taking a breath, I could hear God reminding me to stop and pray.
The first time I remembered to stop and pray, I was in the car, so tired from getting up multiple times the previous night, so angry at the stop lights, and so frustrated with myself for my lack of love towards my kids.
And then my toddler began to whine. I could feel my hairs beginning to stand on end. But I took a deep breath, and a prayer came out. God please forgive me for my impatience, my irritability, and my selfishness. Please instead fill me with peace, patience, and love.
The fog began to lift from my mind. My pulse slowed. Calmly, reasonably, I asked Job to please change his attitude.
I was not home free. Multiple times I have been tested. I don’t know if I will ever be home free. But I keep my prayer tucked away for those emergency times. Sometimes I have to pray that prayer over and over, but God always shows up, He takes my repentance and gives me a new heart and a new mind so that I can move forward in love.