I've dealt with more anger in the past year than ever before in my life. I've mentioned that last year I struggled some with low-level depression, and my biggest tip off was how angry I was - sometimes irrationally so. John saw a little of this, but mostly, I was mad around our kids. My patience level with their behavior was low to very low. I snapped more and yelled a little and got sulky on the inside when everyone was acting a fool, which then meant that we were all acting as fools.
The anger has subsided some as I've leveled out emotionally and addressed it, but it almost feels that the Pandora's box of anger is just open now. My fuse is shorter, and I lose my cool more quickly, and dangit, I just want everyone to do whatever it is they are supposed to be doing. Is that too much to ask?!? Yesterday morning started with two kids in my room 45 minutes before it was time to wake up and went downhill from there. By God's grace, I stayed calm, but I felt raw and spent from the effort.
As I've thought through when I feel the most angry, I've realized it stems from several places. There is the obvious, "My children are not doing what I've asked them, and we've been over this, and I expect better behavior/time management/general falling into line than this." It is infuriating to be calling to a child and for them to be hiding all before 6 a.m., and clearly, this is behavior that needs to be addressed.
I'm also disappointed with how certain things in life are turning out. There are broken relationships that I wish could be mended. There are realities in our family that are challenging with no end in sight. When I continue digging, I have to face the fact that I'm not the parent I thought I would be. Somehow, when I pictured adulthood and life and kids, I imagined this idyllic everything. I tend to romanticize the past, present and future, unless its the actual moment that I'm living that I don't like. My real life children reveal the messiness inside of me in ways that I had never imagined possible.
The imaginary children I had were much better behaved and far less complicated than the actual children I have. The imaginary parent I was knew what to do almost all the time. She didn't get flustered and frustrated and concerned and confused. I've read a lot of parenting books, and because of adoption, I've been through more parenting seminars than the average parent. I also have a degree in Family and Human Services. Basically, I am overqualified for this job, and it still demands every bit of me and then a lot more.
Years ago, I remember someone saying that marriage reveals your selfishness and that parenting reveals your anger, and now almost 14 years into marriage and 10 years into parenting, I have experienced both of those things in fullness. My selfishness is never more clear than when John and I are working through something, and I just want what I want. And before children, I didn't know this kind of anger existed inside of me. What a delight to discover!
Why do I share all of this?
I believe there is power in naming a problem to be able to deal with it. I don't want to be stuck here forever, and I know that some of my anger is justified, but certain behaviors that stem from it are not. I will never be the perfect imaginary parent, but I want to be a better, grace-filled version of the parent that I am for my children, John and myself.
Also - I don't think I'm alone in this. Parenting is straight up the hardest thing I've ever done. It is rewarding as well and beyond worth it, but it is inconvenient and challenging at every turn, and it presents new issues in every season and stage. Just when one thing begins to iron out, something else emerges from the quagmire. If you are also struggling with anger as a parent - please know that you are not the only one.
Another reason for me to share is that if I have miraculously been cured of my anger in a year🤞🏻, then I will likely forget this ever happened unless I write it down, and it feels important to note this struggle. I can see how much work God and I both have to do inside my heart, and I want to be able to look back and see progress. I cannot control my children's behavior or what is going on in their hearts (though I certainly can influence those things), but I can (with the Lord's help and strength) work on my own responses.
Here's to 2019 being a year filled with more grace and patience that comes as a result of being filled with the Spirit and also by doing the hard work to keep calm and carry on.
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