When you’re mad at your kids and don’t know why…

by Kari on May 15, 2012

Last weekend, as we lay in bed, Jeff asked me how I felt.  I replied, “I feel like a rubber band that’s stretched out so tight it’s just about to snap.”  He knew enough to put his arm around me and just stay quiet after that. (love that man.)

Someone please tell me they’ve felt like that too?

My confession is this: I’ve been mad.  Not all the time, but more often than I like to admit, I’ve been struggling with just getting so angry with my Littles.  Sure, there’s a time to be mad, to get angry at sin and to be stern in discipline. But this was more of a subtle brewing beneath the surface that’s just a slight incident away from boiling over. The kind of mad.

Ironically enough, it was the morning of Mother’s Day that I felt most angry. And it was the afternoon of Mother’s Day that I realized why.

Thanks to a glass of strawberry lemonade. 

We don’t usually have juice in the house, but I knew it’d be almost 90 degrees that day, so I bought some lemonade. Jeff’s mom brought strawberries so I made a special pitcher of strawberry lemonade for the day. Yum!

In the afternoon, I went outside with the kids to play. I held in my hand a small, cold glass of icy strawberry lemonade. Of course as soon as they saw it, their eyes lit up and they asked to have some. It was the last glass, but they had asked politely and of course I wanted them to enjoy it too. So I lowered down and gave Dutch a drink. But of course his drink enthusiastically turned to gulp and when I tipped back the glass it was half gone. I turned to give Heidi a drink and she slurped away. When I held the glass back up for myself there was all of an inch left at the bottom. And then I realized…

That’s why I’m mad. 

What? I’m mad because my kids drank my strawberry lemonade? No.

I’m mad because I let them. 

All the time … in so many ways. 

It’s not about lemonade, obviously. See, here’s the thing. Love does not seek its own. I get that. And as moms, we’re celebrated for our selflessness (which is good!), and we’re to expected to lay down our lives for our children (which is good!), we’re supposed to say “yes!” as often as we can (which is good). But I also know that on Mother’s Day it is perfectly acceptable for a mom to have a glass of strawberry lemonade without giving the entire thing to her children. It’s good for them to learn that Mommy is honored and sometimes gets special things of her own. It’s good for Mommy to respect herself, and carry herself with dignity. Part of loving them is training them to not walk all over their mother. See, we not only need clear boundaries in obedience and discipline, but also just in respecting Mommy as a person.

Do you see what I mean?

It’s beautiful for mommy to selflessly lay down her life for her kids. But that doesn’t mean she

… prepares snacks and meals at all hours of the day.  

… isn’t allowed to eat a meal sitting down.

… can’t take a shower by herself.

… must give up her quiet time in the Word.

You remember the instructions we’re always given when flying with children, right? Secure your own oxygen mask before your child’s.  In other words:

It won’t help your child if you’re passed out on the floor. 

I might just write that last sentence on a poster and tape it to my wall.

Sister-friend, I don’t know where you are today. But could it be that a little dose of soul-care might be in order? By all means, keep loving those children sacrificially, but perhaps Mama needs a bath by herself? Or an hour away for a quiet cup of coffee? Or perhaps just …

…an icy glass of strawberry lemonade all to herself.

With love, thanks for reading,


*Looking for more help/wisdom in this area? Check out Taking Care of the Me in Mommy, by Lisa Whelchel. A great, fun, practical guide. I’m going to slip mine off the shelf to read again while I’m sipping that lemonade…