For a woman who takes great pride in possessing an extreme amount of patience, admitting that I morphed into a screaming mom who yells at instead of speaks to her children is embarrassing. I have the fortitude to sit through just about anything and come out on the other side unruffled. I guess growing up in a church where Sunday worship lasted four hours contributed to my ability to take life as it comes. Staying up with crying babies was a cakewalk. I worked as a construction project manager and as a publicist. If you have ever built anything or dealt with the press, patience is more than a virtue; it is a necessity.
As a woman who never imagined having children, I was both shocked and thrilled that motherhood came second nature. I excelled at it. Through their curiosity and my love for them, my boys introduced me to my best self. At one point my mom game was so tight, a few friends referred to me as “Momma Duck” because everything was always in order. The boys were a charm to deal with most of the time. I attributed their good behavior to me being an active and present mom who didn’t allow work, which was a few public relations projects and freelance writing assignments, to impede on the time I should give them. We kept a good routine and had fun together. I cooked. I cleaned. I kept a tidy home. I made play dates and room mom assignments. I served on school fund-raising committees. I carted the kids to everything from golf lessons to music lessons to karate. I even participated in career days as the children grew older. I was one of those moms, you know the ones Katie on American Housewife loves to hate.
Initially, motherhood was like being Miss America, June Cleaver, and Clair Huxtable all rolled up into one. But then, life often finds a way to kick it up a notch. In the most indirect way possible, my boys showed me how I manifested many of the character flaws I detested in others.
It all started after a series of major life changes and personal disappointments. Instead of the settled life I’d prepared for—and frankly, the one I felt like I deserved—I landed in a place of uncertainty. No longer was I a mom who only had to focus on a few projects here and there to keep my skills up. I had to take on more work so that I could help make ends meet. That meant less time with the kids and their activities and more time at my desk pitching articles, submitting work proposals, and actually completing the work I was assigned. Life was stressful. I started to feel silent screaming bubbling just beneath the surface. I was a mess. A hot, screaming mess.
Instead of Miss June Huxtable, my boys got Drill Sergeant Mom who was on a mission. Everything needed to be done and it needed to be done right now. Fun, available mom disappeared. Instead of communicating, I barked orders. Instead of listening with love, I grew impatient. I was stressed out and angry. I was offended that they would ask for help while I was handling client business. I was angry that they would ask to go out to dinner or to the movies when I had just paid the electric bill and didn’t know if I’d have enough money to buy the allergy medicine they needed. I couldn’t be available because I had to parent in a way I didn’t expect as a working mom.
When I saw the hurt on my boys’ faces after I yelled at them for no reason, I realized that I needed to make a change. Nothing going on in our lives was their fault. Why was I yelling at them? I was angry at me for not being able to do everything I’d done in pre-major life change. Instead of seeing the expectancy on their faces as a sign of them knowing I was a good mom, I saw it as disappointment. They saw a mom who could do anything, including finding the $40 for a movie night.
I had to learn how to accept the frightening changes taking place in our lives and find ways to overcome obstacles while being an active, present, and loving mom. I had to practice the things I’d taught them: Don’t ever give up. Always be kind. Trust yourself to do your best. You are enough. God works when you do.
When you’re a mom it’s okay to have bad days. But, when those days turn you into a screaming maniac who can’t hear reason, you have a problem. I’m thankful that I have loving people around me who stepped in to help me reel in my attitude. If you don’t have those types of relationships, please speak with someone who can help you find peace and calm no matter your situation. Take a few minutes to write down your feelings before interacting with the children you love. They need moms who communicate effectively and lovingly. Our kids deserve our very best.