It was 8 pm and (shockingly) all three kids were in bed. I was looking forward to an hour or two of relaxing with my hubby. I grabbed a couple of Oreos out of the pantry and sat down on the couch next to Eric. No sooner had I settled in that the hollering from upstairs began.
“Mommy! Mooommy! MOOOOMMMY!!” I was comfortable and not inclined to move, so instead of getting up I yelled back, “What, Eli?”. “Mooommmmmmy!!!!” Apparently I hadn’t been loud enough the first time, so at the top of my lungs I tried again. “GO TO SLEEP ELI!!!”
Eric looked at me in annoyance. “Would you stop yelling in my ear?” He had a perfectly valid point. I was most definitely yelling in his ear. But his slightly sharp tone hurt my feelings, so I took a moment to nurse my wounds. Then a sudden epiphany stopped my pity party in its tracks.
I was upset that he spoke in a sharp tone, but how many times a day do I use that tone with my children? More than I’d like to admit. I wouldn’t dream of getting together with a group of friends and speaking rudely to them, so why would I do it with my own children, whom I love more than life? And more importantly, if a word of truth spoken a bit sharply by my husband made me feel crappy, how do my kids feel when I talk to them that way (or if I’m honest, when I talk to them much more rudely than Eric did to me)?
It’s a strange reality that often times the ones we love the most, and who we are the most comfortable with, become the ones we treat with the least respect. Beyond having a sharp tone with my kids, I also yell a lot more than I want to. I always feel awful after I do it. It makes me feel frustrated, stressed, and like a complete failure as a mom. Yet time after time, I resort to it, especially when the boys are fighting or being loud (which they are A LOT. I think their volume control has gotten stuck on max.).
Beyond how it makes them feel, I wonder what it’s teaching them. We learn by example and it only takes a moment of watching my kids interact with each other (and Eric and I) to see that they most certainly are learning my ways. Eli can be so sassy and Samuel uses screaming as his go-to response to anything he doesn’t like. I know some of it is their age, and I realize that I am not, nor ever will be, totally responsible for their actions, but it does make me stop and think. Part of my job as their mom is to teach them proper ways to handle difficult situations, and the way they see me reacting to these situations is what they will learn to do.
Finally, there’s this: How do I want my kids to remember me when they’re grown? As a fun mom who played and laughed and was kind? Or as a stressed mom who hollered and got annoyed and was grumpy? It’s a pretty easy choice, but a little harder to put into play. I might need to print this off and stick it somewhere as a reminder of what I’m working towards. I only have my children for a short amount of time. I want to make these few, precious years count.