This one's for the mamas, for the ones who sometimes think, “These kids bring out the worst in me?!”
Imagine with me that your impulsive, irrational, exhausted little one is on the verge of pushing your last button. You can feel yourself about to lose your cool, and that’s when the thought crosses your mind: “Arghhhh this kid brings out the worst in me!” We’ve all been there, right? Cue the mom guilt.
This is the exact moment to practice the power of the pause. I totally get that that sounds a little whimsical and a lot cliche, neither of which are all that helpful when you’re patrolling the streets of Meltdown City. But stick with me.
See, that pause is powerful. It gives the Holy Spirit space to nudge your heart, and it gives you space to hear it. That inner voice that quietly counters your own exasperation, whispers, “Or you can choose to let him bring out the BEST in you. Patience. Kindness. Self-control. Empathy. Inner strength that he doesn’t have. You can choose to let him bring out CHRIST in you.”
Talk about powerful! In that split second, we get to choose to let our little ones bring out the worst in us or to let him bring out the BEST in us. And we get the glorious responsibility, and holy work, of choosing!
I want to encourage you today, as a mama who is in that split second of choosing way too often, to be sensitive to those tiny moments when you get to pause and choose. The most effective way our little ones will learn respect and self-control is by seeing respect and self-control in action! I’m preaching to myself here because motherhood is such an opportunity to become more like Christ, and I know I’m not alone in needing the reminder to choose well!
AND FOR WHEN YOU CAN'T CHOOSE
I also want to acknowledge the mamas who feel like they can't choose. When I was deep in postpartum anxiety I experienced rage unlike anything I've ever known. And the hardest thing was that I knew it was wrong, I wanted to change, and in some of the most triggering moments, I couldn't stop the intense reaction and anger coming out of my body. And yes, it landed all over my kids.
I completely understand that reading "You have the power to choose!" can feel disempowering because, in some of those more irrational moments, you would choose to do differently if you could. First, when you can choose, do. Practice it and start over in the middle of an outburst if you catch yourself reverting to old habits. (Neuroscience shows us that even when we start off down an old, unhelpful reaction, stopping and changing in the middle of it helps rewire our neural pathways for future growth and change!)
Secondly, consider getting help. We've shared lots of resources here and on social media. But if you're still experiencing frequent moments where you can't control yourself, please consider talking to your doctor or healthcare provider. I personally benefited greatly from talk therapy and nutritional adjustments. Sometime's Christ's work in us comes from medical and mental health professionals.
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