I used to be so hung up on not yelling at my kids. In fact, if there is anything I could say I struggled with most a couple of years ago, it was the guilt over yelling at my children every day.
You see, I tried so hard not to. Every single day was a battle to overcome this part of myself, and I’ve almost conquered the beast. Most days I don’t yell now, and I’m happy I’ve come this far.
But my kids are getting older, and I’ve noticed a new vice seep into my parenting to replace the yelling that I’ve almost eliminated. My tone of voice sucks so bad now. I’m annoyed. I’m snippy. I’m talking through gritted teeth.
My kids are at ages where they can now do a lot for themselves, but they are still whiney and argue with me a lot over stupid crap like showering and bedtime.
Parenting doesn’t get easier. It just gets different.
And right now, I’m in the stage of arguing with tweens and almost kindergarteners who like to boss Mommy around just because.
We stayed with this family once. They have four kids. The older two, who were only like 12 and 10 years old, were so freaking helpful. They played with their younger siblings, asked us if we needed more towels or pillows, and helped their mom cook dinner. I pointed out to my kids on the ride home how polite they were. I was blown away.
My kids aren’t total brats. In fact, they’re really, really good kids too. But we’re just in this rut of everyone being annoyed by everything right now. They’re annoyed that they have to pack their lunches, and I’m annoyed they take so long to do it and complain the whole time.
They’re annoyed they have to stop playing and take a shower, and I’m annoyed that it seems to take 200 hours to get through the bedtime routine.
They’re annoyed that someone looked at them, breathed on them, or made a face at them, when in fact, we’re all just trying to coexist in a small house.
We’re all freaking annoyed, and my tone of voice is definitely showing it.
And I’m afraid it’s harming our family.
If there is such thing as an annoyed phase of life, we’re in it — up to our eyeballs. Everyone is sensitive. Everyone is pre-hormonal or almost a big kid trying to show how big they are. Everyone is capable, but lazy-ish. Everyone is battling for their own basic human rights like air space and who gets to stare at a screen the longest, and I’m just sick and tired of the constant bickering.
So instead of yelling, my voice is annoyed. My nerves are shot. I’m sucking in air trying to breathe through it so I don’t sound irritated and tired, but I’m forgetting to exhale, and it’s just all coming out angry and bothered.
Who cares if I stop yelling if we’re all tired of each other at the end of the day anyway and biting each other’s heads off? That’s not really any better.
So I’m trying a new game. I’m trying to not sound grouchy and mean in addition to not yelling. It’s a freaking learning curve, this whole parenting thing. Just when you figure one thing out, your kids become tweens and hormones start revving up, and it takes your patience back down to an all-time low.
But I’ve come this far. I’ve stopped yelling, and I’m proud of myself. So I can’t give up now.
However, I don’t want my entire family talking like little a-holes to each other. I want us to be helpful and kind. I want us to say please and thank you and offer to help someone who spilled their orange juice all over the counter instead of tattling on them.
I want us to just hug it out, and not care if someone has different eating habits or is making a face that we perceive to be directed at us somehow.
I want us just to like each other as much as we love each other.
And to be honest, I’m afraid it’s my fault. Because motherhood is something that tests me every day. In fact, I thought I was a patient person until my oldest turned 2 or so. From then on, I’ve been learning. Learning how to have patience. Learning how to not yell. And now I’m learning how to make sure my tone of voice conveys respect and doesn’t make my entire family feel unloved — because I love them more than words can say. And I just want our home to be a happy place, as cliché as that sounds. I want soft words, kindness, and helpfulness to radiate instead of irritation and tension.
And I’m trying. I hope they notice. I hope they can feel it when I praise instead of criticize. I hope they recognize when I’m patient when they’re out of control. I hope that sometimes I get it right because we do love each other so much. We just need to learn how to act like we do.
The burden of being the mother, though, is that I know it begins with me. And I’m trying so hard it hurts.