Overall, I am not a yelling kind of mom. I have my moments, but overall, I am not too bad on the temper. But this title tells it exactly as it was a few months ago. I yelled my way up the highway. On the phone. To the two family members at home who were not going to therapy, while I went to therapy with a different one. Screamed my way right up to our appointment. Yes, yes I did. To share how I got to this lovely place, let me back up.
So I picked up the child who is dealing with some ADHD-based anxiety. This required me having everything else in place for the two other children during that time. It meant making sure that they had snack to get themselves, managed homework, and were ready in dance/karate clothes by the time I arrived home to take them to their activities. It meant getting to the school before the buses lined up and getting on the main highway traveling one state over before traffic jumped on with me.
But it also meant catching a pastry and frappuccino with the one headed to the appointment. And sitting there getting some work done while soothing music played in the waiting room, eucalyptus scents pumped in the air from somewhere, and chairs were comfy. It meant quiet, calm, taking a deep breath, and something to build good things into my child.
So just as I got on the road, the first child off the bus obediently called in to let me know he had arrived. Twenty minutes later, the second child called. I asked about her day, cheerleaded her on about the list I hoped would be done by the time I came home, and quickly got off the phone, knowing my peeps were home safe and had locked all doors behind them. But then—but then. The phone rang again two-thirds of the way into the next state, and here came that Mama Know: that feeling that trouble was afoot. And indeed it was. There was a control battle going on between the one with homework to do on the computer and the one using it for game-playing who got on first.
And they couldn’t work it out themselves.
And I was driving in traffic.
And I didn’t want to be a parent right then.
I wanted my drive with the other child to be peaceful, expectant, and free of anything at home. But it never is when we are responsible for others, even when they are not physically with us. So, I ended up so frustrated and disappointed with their behavior, after several rounds of the innocent act on both of their parts via phone, that I did what every traffic-crazed, frustrated, stressed-out parent wanting five minutes of peace to him/herself does: I barked out a bunch of consequences, made the recreational-computer-use one get off the computer, drew a boundary that I would not hear any more about it (I’m a boundary junkie, after all), and hung up. But in the meantime I had yelled my way up the highway, and when I hung up, there was complete silence. Not peace, but silence. I think even the radio knew to turn itself off.
The child traveling with me shared the silence with me for the last 6 minutes of the ride. I think he knew better than to mess with me in that moment. But as I pulled in and said I was still angry because of an issue the siblings were having over the computer, this one quietly piped up: “That’s what I figured.” And, BOOM! It hit me that we were on our way to THERAPY, for crying out loud, looking for some peace in a few areas, and I yelled our way there. How’s that for anxiety levels? Blood pressure? And I could just imagine him sharing with the therapist how Mom yelled all the way there. Oh wow. I half-expected her to invite me in to the office as well. But this child, despite the anxiety, put calm into his words. He was gentle, yet strong. He reassured me just by tone of voice.
And God does this. He takes the rage in us and quiets it—when we ask Him. He settles the matter by speaking into the storm. He doesn’t take on the anger of the storm itself or fight with the wind. He just tells it to be quiet. His calming-yet-commanding voice alone has the power to defuse it. Jesus, please tell the storm in me to settle. My rage needs to lick a shut-up-sicle. In Your presence, all chaos must settle and peace usher in.
Mark 4:35-41, Apostle John-Mark narrating
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the
other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
I am not proud of this moment, but am glad that there are second chances at these times, that the other child didn’t go into his appointment permanently scarred by Mom’s rage, and that I can take my lack of peaceful parenting and give it to God, and when He gives it back to me (assuming I fully let go), He will help me do better the next time. He will teach me and humble me.
And He will for you too.