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…




{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrea May 15, 2012 at 4:18 am

Thanks! I struggle with this most when it comes to giving up the quiet for my Quiet TIme. Blessings today…little girl awoke early and I told her to go back to sleep. Since I’m already up, I get to have my Quiet Time – alone.


Kari May 15, 2012 at 8:34 am

Yes! That Quiet Time is so important. Even if you’re Susannah Wesley with 10 kids who had to throw her apron over her head so the kids knew it was mommy’s time to pray. Whatever it takes, we must feed our souls! Bless you girl.


Melissa May 15, 2012 at 6:56 am

Ah, sweet wise friend! You hit the nail on the head:-) I have been teaching respect here at our house so much lately. Every once in a while I get to the the rubber band point that you mentioned, but lately I can foresee the mad stress that is coming and I turn back to reinstall respect. What joy I get when I see that from my little ones! Mommy is a person too, a servant yes, but a person too. We all need this reminder once in awhile!


Kari May 15, 2012 at 8:33 am

SOO good Meliss. Seriously, can I come spend more time at your house? I need more of your influence in my life! :) Love you so, thanks for sharing this.


Becky May 15, 2012 at 7:55 am

So well put Kari, thanks!!


Kari May 15, 2012 at 8:34 am

Thanks, Becky!


Emily T. May 15, 2012 at 8:33 am

I have been there the last few days, too! Last night as my son and I were saying bedtime prayers, I confessed my sin of anger and asked for forgiveness. And then my sweet boy prayed that I would not sin as much tomorrow!! I have been feeling pulled between my two toddlers who genuinely need my help and my older son who needs to learn more independence.

As we are approaching summer vacation, I need to hear this reminder. We have a cul-de-sac full of children who I love to love on. I will gladly hand out popsicles to all the boys running through my front door, but I will not lay down in front of it. Big boys can tie their own shoes, get down the air pump for the second, third, fourth soccer ball of the day, and help themselves from the snack bowl.

Feeling the salve of the Spirit calming my frayed ends.


Kari May 15, 2012 at 8:36 am

I am laughing out loud, Emily! Amen and amen! Yes, gladly open the door but not lay down in front of it. Classic! Your words are so good…and yes, those older kids who need to learn independence. Why am I helping Dutch put on his velcro shoes? He is FIVE! Haha, I love you friend! Thanks for sharing here.


susan May 15, 2012 at 8:36 am

WOW! that is just what I needed to read this morning! This is what I have been struggling with lately. And this morning was especially difficult. I LOVE how God puts those messages of encouragement and support in front of us right when we need them!

Thanks Kari for putting that into words this morning and sharing it the rest of stretched rubber bands!


Kari May 15, 2012 at 8:37 am

Oh Susan, praise God for his perfect timing! Yes, we all have those stretched rubber-bands moments, but so grateful when God shows us what needs to change! Praying for some sweet soul-care for you, dear mama. Blessings!


Brita Arcuri May 15, 2012 at 9:44 am

This one is getting printed and going in my journal!


Kari May 15, 2012 at 1:56 pm

:) I love you, B!


Sarah May 15, 2012 at 11:23 am

Thank you once again Kari. Even though I have only 1 little and one on the way I have already begun feeling this and didn’t have words to put to it. I get it now. I’ve been trying to instill respect even at my daughters young little age but I have to remember consistency and “me time” is so important. thank you! Be blessed this day! Now you have me craving Strawberry Lemonade;) haha


Melody May 15, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Hey girl! Wow did I need to hear this…I have been feeling this way all week! Thanks so much! Love ya!


Kari May 15, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Love you so much, Melody! You’re an amazing mom. xoxo


Sharon O May 15, 2012 at 1:23 pm

This is so good, so many ‘mom’s’ that I see or know give so much to their children and I value that and think it is honorable but in the same sense it doesn’t teach them that mom can say NO. Mom needs her time alone. Mom needs a special something and should not have to sneak it to enjoy it.
You are right on. It is perfectly ok to say to them …’Not today’.


Kari May 15, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Thank you, Sharon. That is encouraging from a woman who has “been there, done that” in the parenting department. I so appreciate you!


Ava May 15, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Good reminders!
My back ached all day yesterday, and I finally realized after puting my 2.5 and 4 yr old sons to bed (hubby working late) that it’s because I never sat down. Literally. And driving doesn’t count! I was on my feet the entire day, even during naps, because laundry had to be done, dishes washed, and my laptop was only getting fast reception at a place w/o chairs around.
I wholeheartedly agree that a Mommy who takes care of herself does her children a favor. Thanks for articulating what many Mommies feel, regularly.


Kari May 15, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Yes! Well said, Ava. I hope you are sitting down today (!) and that back is feeling better! A warm bath perhaps too? :) Blessings, sister!


MK Jorgenson May 15, 2012 at 2:04 pm

So true! We’ve been struggling with extra clingy-ness that seems out of character for my happy tot. Health things have made me give up nap time writing time for a nap of my own. I’ve been thinking about asking my husband if he can cover an hour or two while I slip out to write some night this week…I’m thinking that as a regular thing might be good for all of us.

Thanks, Kari, for having the chops to say it’s okay for mama to put on her oxygen mask first…sometimes we’re likely to forget. :D


Kari May 15, 2012 at 3:33 pm

haha, thanks MK! Yes, oh and isn’t it true that things CHANGE with the seasons. So glad you are getting rest, and YES, I bet a night out this week to write might be a great idea if your husband is game. No passing out! :)


monica May 16, 2012 at 4:29 am

oh, goodness, that is exactly how I felt on Sunday (and i proceeded to have a pity party for myself instead of making things better!). It is good to be validated, but also good to be challenged to make changes for the better! Thank you :)


Lacey May 16, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Kari, are you in my head??? :) As my boys asked for yet another thing yesterday, I told them I wasn’t sure what to do. I wasn’t sure if I should help them, to teach about graciousness and selflessness, or if I should make them figure it out on their own, to teach about self-reliance and using their own God-given-brains! Oh, how I struggle with this back and forth pull.


Anna Radchenko May 16, 2012 at 4:08 pm

great thoughts – thank you for sharing! :)


Darcy @ Message in a Mason Jar May 17, 2012 at 2:28 pm

I’ve felt like that rubber band too many days this week. And when something stretched that far breaks, those nearby are sure to feel the sting. Insert sad face. It does help to think this through with other moms, so thanks for opening up the conversation. I know I need to take better care of myself. I need to change my bedtime. I need to start the morning in the Word (alone!!!) and keep it open on my counter top all day, checking it more than social media. I need to stop and pray every time I feel like getting toward that breaking point from demand after demand and stimulus after stimulus. I’m kind of getting sick of apologizing to the kids, you know?!


Kari May 17, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Oh girl, do I ever know! Wish I didn’t know. I love what you said: “checking it (the Word) more than social media.” Had a major repent moment of this last week, realizing how often I let the world in instead of the Word in. Love the picture of it open on your countertop, where you can water your soul all day long. Beautiful. Thanks for being here, Darcy. Bless you!


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