I don't know if it was the four day weekend, the extremely cold temperatures keeping us cooped up inside, or something else throwing off the normal groove of the house, but today was hard.
The kids were riled up. Typical sibling squabbles escalated quickly, common house rules were ignored and even with reminders were still broken. Screams echoed around the house as the kids yelled harsh words at each other. No one listened the first time when directions were given.
Today was hard.
Each time a scream rang out I could feel my blood pressure rise. I could feel that angry creature creeping up my back. The one I try so hard to keep under control. The mom monster that I hate turning into but that rears her ugly head more often then I ever want to admit.
Today was hard.
I'd enter a room to find kids hitting each other with toys and I'd flash with rage and frustration. "We don't hit! Play nice!"
I hear the screams from one child to another, "Stop! Please stop! I said STOP IT!"
I rush in and scream above every one else "They said stop! What is wrong with you that you don't hear them saying stop? What does stop mean?"
And now my throat hurts because I'm screaming just to be heard above their screams.
Today was hard.
Moment after moment we all made the wrong choices. I'd yell and immediately realize that I'm yelling for them to stop yelling. I'd stomp into a room because they were jumping on furniture. Everyone was making bad choices.
I should have stopped. I should have done a reset. I should have gathered everyone together to pray and ask for a new start in that moment. But I didn't. I let the monster out and I didn't seek help reigning her back in.
Because I can't do it on my own. Today was hard and I didn't turn it over to God right away. I kept trying to shoulder it myself. I muttered half prayers of "C'mon God, help." without any real faith behind them before turning around and being right back in the same situation and completely ignoring the words I just uttered.
I should have stopped. I should have fallen to my knees. I should have walked away and found a quiet spot to cry out to God. But I didn't.
It wasn't until we all came together in the living room that the mood began to shift. I apologized. I looked at each of them in their eyes and explained that I was wrong. That I acted in an unkind manner. That I didn't speak how I should have.
The ice began to melt.
As each of the kids told me what they enjoyed about their day I realized that my perception of the events was so skewed.
One child said playing with siblings was the favorite moment. Yeah, all that kid yelling? A good portion was angry sibling to sibling yelling but the other yelling was them having fun together. All I heard was the loud screaming going against our "no screaming in the house" rule (yeah, I know, I know) and immediately reacted rather than finding out the reason.
Another child said the best moment was watching a new TV show. A show I turned on so I could have a moment to myself. A moment I didn't take to humble myself before God but instead probably scroll through Facebook or Instagram.
Clearly my view of everything going wrong and today being hard was all in my head. The kids were enjoying each other. No, they weren't perfectly behaved... but neither was I. No, they didn't listen each time I spoke... but I wasn't listening to God either.
As I got everyone in bed and we said prayers I asked for forgiveness for my behavior. I asked for the Spirit to hold my tongue and instead pause to see the truth in situations before responding. The kids all included their sorries in their prayers as well. We all had a lot to apologize for but it gave us a chance to talk about forgiveness, mercy, and grace.
And tomorrow is a new day.
A day when I plan on pausing. A day when I plan to turn on music so we can refocus if emotions start to rise. A day when I will sit and cuddle instead of sending to rooms.
Because tomorrow can be a good day, even if it's hard.