10 years ago I decided I would never get angry again, and I felt pretty good about it. I hate yelling and its something I decided I would never inflict on my kids. Plus, it was pretty effective at ticking them off when I just spoke in a calm, sugary sweet voice while dishing out whatever consequences they had earned. My oldest son would actually scream back "JUST YELL AT ME! STOP BEING SO CALM!!!" But I held my ground and whispered.
I actually fooled myself for a long time. I thought I was really not getting angry, but the truth is that I was storing up silent hurts and resentments which festered into anger, even though it never came out my mouth. I totally kept my cool all. the. time. which meant I didn't experience those intense feelings of rage, but I also didn't experience intense feelings of joy. It's impossible to numb the negative without numbing the positive as well.
In light of this discovery, I've been trying to loosen up and allow myself to feel the full range of emotions fully-including anger and hurt. Today I had a breakthrough of sorts.
I was sleep deprived, hungry, late, and stressed about an issue that had nothing to do with my kids. I walked into the kitchen where breakfast was being made and immediately my youngest began pleading for a friend to come over and work on a school project later in the day.
I issued a terse "no, thats not happening." She persisted in her request and told me all the reasons it MUST happen, and I responded by yelling "THE ANSWER IS NO!". She immediately ran out of the room crying and I felt terrible. I had just become the very thing I had worked so hard not to be-a raving maniac who takes her stresses out on her innocent children. I thought for a minute and composed myself, then followed her upstairs and apologized. We had a good talk where I shared some of my stresses and she explained how much she wanted to be able to help her friend. We negotiated and agreed that helping was more important than doing laundry, and the friend could come. She dried her tears, gave me hug, and said "Thank you Mom for understanding."
It was a magical moment. My daughter got to see me, her mom, make a mistake. She got to see that i am a human being with flaws and imperfections. She got to see me humble myself and admit that I was wrong and come to her seeking forgiveness. She learned that her voice is heard and when she speaks up for something important to her, adults will listen and reconsider. She got to experience what it feels like to be part of a living, breathing relationship that sometimes hurts and also can heal.
I'm not proud of yelling at my daughter today and I don't plan on doing it again anytime soon, but I want to fell joy and so I know that I will also experience pain and anger. I am not perfect and no mother is, so today just give yourself a little break and know that letting your kids see you in all your imperfection is a good thing.