I decided to stop yelling at my children for Lent.
Of course, Lent is almost over and I started two days ago.
I make my own rules.
Many people give up soda or chocolate or something else that gives them pleasure. Good for them. I need as many legal pleasures in my life as possible.
Other people add something to their life, like additional spiritual practices or service. Good for them.
Me? I'm giving up yelling at my children.
I'm doing this because that old phrase "anger is depression turned outward" is true.
When I raise my voice, I am frustrated with circumstances or hungry or lonely or scared. It's like scratching a mosquito bite---it's so very satisfying to scratch until it bleeds. Then, however, you're itchy and bleeding. When I yell, I'm still hungry or lonely or frustrated or scared. But then I'm also wracked with guilt.
My child, doing his bedtime prayers, said, "Please help Mommy to stop yelling at me." Then, to really twist the knife, he told me that he's going to start saying "bad prayers" like, "Please help me NOT listen to Mommy."
In case you were wondering, I HAVE ruined him.
After I looked in his eyes and saw the brutal truth in his words: "Stop yelling," I went downstairs and cried and prayed and lit my Mary candle. I said these words as a mantra: "I am not going to be a yelling mom."
I said the words, and willed them into life. These words are real now, and I must tend them like a newborn babe.
This morning, Owen was a pill. Didn't want to get dressed. Didn't want to eat breakfast. I asked him if wanted toast, a waffle, or cereal for breakfast. He said, after much dithering, "scrambled eggs."
I repeated, "You can have toast, a waffle, or cereal."
He said, "Scrambled eggs."
I said, "I love you too much to argue."
He continued to be obstinate and truth be told, a bit of an asshole.
I said to him, "You are making me angry, and I am going to go into my room for awhile so I don't yell at you."
And then, I did. I rested on my bed, while Joel played nearby, repeated my mantra, said a little prayer, and came back out when I didn't feel like yelling anymore.
I then asked Owen if he wanted a waffle, toast, or cereal.
He said he wanted scrambled eggs.
I took a deep breath. I told him he was getting a waffle. We moved on.
And I didn't yell.
I'm sure I will yell again. You can count on it.
Easter morning is going to be an effing nightmare. After all, Lent will be over.
I'm hoping this habit sticks. After all, I'm not going to be a yelling mom.