Is it frustrating to read a blog such as mine, and hear stories where mothers always seem to be calm, and children appear always helpful? Do you feel like going elsewhere, somewhere more real, where mothers reveal more of the bad as well as the good?
I can imagine I am a very annoying person.
Would it help if I told you I used to be known as the dragon mother? Oh yes! I had a temper that matched my red hair. And I liked to use it, especially when I was tired and life didn’t go to plan, and my kids didn’t behave as I hoped.
When my eldest daughter Felicity was about 2 years old and my second child, Duncan was a baby, I had a real boiling-over day. I can’t remember what the circumstances were. Probably the house was a mess and I was exhausted. Quite possibly Felicity kept insisting on sitting on top of the baby. All I really remember was the pressure cooker feeling that was building up inside me. My head ached. I was hot and bothered. I was going to explode. Would I lose my temper? Shout? Handle my children roughly? I’d done all these before and I didn’t want to do them again. At the last moment, I drew back and burst into tears.
I wondered if there was something physically wrong with me. Perhaps I was anaemic and low on energy. Could this be the reason I never had any patience and why it didn’t take much for me to reach breaking point? I made a doctor’s appointment. The check-up revealed I was a perfectly healthy mother.
Could it be I wasn’t sick but just an impatient person with a temper I couldn’t control, under trying conditions? I mulled that unpleasant idea over for some time. Maybe I didn’t have what it took to be a mother. The problem was I was
a mother. What was I to do? I knew, that if I wanted to bring up my children with love, I’d have to change. I looked into their beautiful eyes, and realised I didn’t want those eyes to fill with fear every time I came near. No, I had to do something.
Is it possible for a person to change? It certainly is. I look back and see how far I have come – Not much worries me these days. But the journey wasn’t easy…
I made a conscious decision: I wanted to be a gentle mother, a calm mother, a mother visibly full of love and peace. But the chances of me changing into that person seemed low. Our family grew and we began homeschooling, and I wondered how I could possibly be expected to be patient when every day I was given more and more to cope with. I prayed for more patience but nothing happened. One day I realised patience doesn’t arrive like a parcel in the post. It has to be worked at. My children were providing me with many opportunities to practise this virtue. I just had to use these opportunities. With grace, I sometimes succeeded in remaining calm when faced with a difficult situation. Many times I failed. I fell down but I always made myself get up and try again. And gradually I did begin to change.
As I became a calmer and gentler person, I noticed something very interesting. My children became calmer and happier too. A mother’s mood and attitude and example really does set the tone for the family. All round, life was becoming more peaceful.
So am I now perfect? No. Some days I still feel out of sorts and get a bit grouchy. Not very often. Just every now and then. Those occasional slips fill me with horror. I feel so terrible and ashamed – though I guess it’s times like these which prevent me from becoming complacent and proud of myself. But I apologise to my children and they forgive me. Understanding and forgiveness are so important for all members of a family. When life is full of visible love and peace, everyone can safely weather a storm that suddenly flares up and is quickly acknowledged and dealt with.
I love my children so very much. That love makes me want to be the best mother possible. Love certainly has the power to change people. Love and God’s grace transformed me from a hot tempered mother into a calm and peaceful mother, who might seem almost annoyingly perfect.
Except I’m not almost perfect. I still have many faults. Now that the hot temper has been worked on a bit, God and I can move onto the next one…Yes, there is still a lot of work that needs doing.
So you see, I do know all about those difficult times when one doubts one’s ability to parent and homeschool. I know something else too. With Love we can overcome all problems. We can all parent and homeschool gently, with peace and with love, with God’s help.
Do our children remember our parenting failures? Do they hold it against us? Or do they realise just how much we love them and that is all that really matters? I ponder my past life as a dragon mother and how it affected my first born child in the post Memories of an Inexperienced Mother