I have never screamed at my kids. Until last week.
I may raise my voice. I often lose my temper, glare at them, or otherwise treat them badly. But I never scream. Until last week.
I can’t tell you exactly what snapped, but it was bad. And I was angry all day, every day. On Wednesday, I threatened to send them back to school. At which point both boys started sobbing. Big, sloppy, heaving tears.
“No, Mom, no! You’re going to ruin our education. I’m never going to learn anything at school!” Ezra cried out.
As I was thinking what a drama-king he can be, Zach took it even further with, “Our family is falling apart! We’re falling apart!”
I reminded them that they would learn plenty if they returned to school, and that our family is not falling part. That just because a family is having a hard time being well behaved and kind does not mean that it’s going to fall apart. I told them this even though I felt as though something was in fact falling apart.
I just couldn’t stand them, which was a new feeling for me. I’m often frustrated with them, or disappointed, or furious even, but my heart is always soft toward them. Except for last week. I just couldn’t seem to forgive them for being rude, and squiggly, and ungrateful, and whiny. And I couldn’t forgive myself for responding to each infraction with rage. I kept thinking, “These boys are rotten. And it’s my fault. And I’m not capable of changing things.”
Out of desperation, I tried something one of the older mammas from our church used to do when things got out of control in her house. I threw open the windows and told the devil to take his leave of our house. The author of fear and doubt and hatred was not welcome. Then we shut the windows and prayed for the spirit of peace and kindness to enter. And it worked. At least in part and for a little while. Which felt nothing short of miraculous.
If you’re not from a Pentecostal background, that might sound insane. Or dangerous, even. But I believe in an enemy of the light, and I take him seriously.
Later that night, I got my period after not having had it for many months. The next day, the world looked a little brighter. And my squiggly, ungrateful kids looked sweet to me again. Of all the arguments to be made for having your kids early, the fact that you won’t have to be raising them while you are going through menopause has to top the list.
Now I’m not saying menopause is from the devil. But it did make our house hellish last week. Can you open up the windows and tell menopause to take its leave?