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"Cease from anger and forsake wrath"

--Psalms 37:8. One recent Wednesday morning when I was enjoying those last moments of sleep before starting the day, Christopher realized that he had ignored my nagging instruction to take everything belonging to him out of the backseat of my Camry the night before. Tuesdays are our one jam-packed busy day of the week when Christopher gets off the bus at just before 4 pm, then we leave almost immediately for the high school to pick up Lindsey, when I take the kids to back-to-back piano lessons from 4:30 to 5:30, followed by football practice from 6 to 8 pm.

They have their backpacks with them to be able to work on homework when the other is having piano lessons, plus my car is filled with piano music bags, and often something food related for either an after-school snack or dinner on-the-go. It drives me crazy to have junk left behind in my car, and I constantly remind them to bring every single thing inside when the day is over. I remember hearing an annoying response from him, "I know, I know" as we pulled into the garage when I uttered the familiar drill.

I had a number of tasks scheduled for that particular Wednesday, and since my hand had been in a splint, recovering from a painful fall on my bicycle, this was my day of urgency to piece together a surprise quilt for my sister's birthday, a joint effort by my other two sisters, Valerie, Julie, and me. I was flying to Kansas City for the big 50th celebration bash the next morning, and also had plans to catch up on all the laundry that had backed up while I had been one-handed for four weeks. When it was clear to me that I would have to drag myself out of bed earlier than I had intended, I was exceedingly cranky and unpleasant to my son. I was bothered that I would be gypped of a little bit of sleep, then have to drive my husband's car to the early morning seminary location (on a day that I had declared a no-drive day for myself) where my car was parked as Lindsey had driven to school that day, and retrieve Christopher's backpack, then drop him off at school. He usually rides the bus, and is very good at getting to school on his own. I've only had to take him one other time so far this school year when he overslept and was slightly late, so one might think that I could have cut him a little slack.

Instead, I was shouting out at him, telling him how he should not have left the backpack in the car, etc. I'm sure he was disappointed in himself and felt bad. While I was tired and miserable over the situation, I kept complaining about it in the car en route. Then I tried to call Lindsey, who obediently silences her cell phone during seminary class to not be distracted. I began to get annoyed that she would most likely not get my message and I would not reach her prior to leaving the seminary parking lot, but would drive across the street to the school, where I would need to search for the beige Toyota, row by row. Such was the case. Our cars met at the intersection and she had not gotten my call, and I proceeded with my theatrics now aimed at her.

First I was mad that she had not turned her phone back on to check to see if I had tried to contact her between seminary and school, and second, that she had not removed any personal belongings from the car before taking it for the entire day. As we met, I extended my unpleasantness toward her, retrieved the backpack, then dropped Christopher off at his school.

During the brief drive from the high school to the middle school, my conscience finally kicked in and guilt filled my gut. Here I was yelling at my children for the last twenty minutes, being so unreasonable and unkind, and this was how they would start their day. What a horrible feeling it was to realize that I had gotten to a point where I allowed this anger for such a mild offense to occur. I thought about how blessed I am to have an incredible 18-year-old daughter who not once has ever yelled or raised her voice to me, and here I was filled with rage and treating two of the most precious people in my life so rudely.

I wondered why I sometimes treat my loved ones in a cruel manner. My husband never yells at me or the kids. Why do I? I don't do it very often, but even occasionally, I realize that it is completely unnecessary. The words to the Primary hymn came into my mind, "I'm trying to be like Jesus; I'm following in his ways. I'm trying to love as he did, in all that I do and say." Obviously, Jesus would not be as put out as I had behaved in this situation. At that moment, I had an epiphany and concluded that from now on, I would make a conscious effort to control my anger and never allow myself to yell at my kids again. I thought of a previous character flaw that I had overcome, and had succeeded in forsaking years ago, and knew that with determination, I could master this as well.

When I got home, I told Kelly about everything that had transpired, and expressed my gratitude to him for being a wonderful example to me for all these years, being one who remains calm in similar situations and not blow things out of proportion as I sometimes do. I told him of my commitment and he was loving and supportive, encouraging me to become a better parent and to exercise kindness and love when disciplining and teaching our children. That afternoon, I apologized to my sweet Lindsey and Christopher when they got home from school and told them of my plan. I committed to them that from that day forward, October 7, 2009, it would be the last time they would hear me yell at them in anger. It's been nearly two weeks and I'm surprised at how easy it has been, once I made up my mind. I'm grateful for my Savior, who teaches me through his perfect example.


jennie w. said…
You're a good woman Kelly!
Shana said…
Good for you Kelly! I think it's an awesome plan!
Megs said…
What a great post Kelly!! Thanks for sharing your experience. You are such a great mom. I would love to see pictures of the quilt too when you can.
Buddy Roberts said…
enjoyed the post. 1)You are not alone 2) If the Moms and Dads reversed roles they too would have that occasional meltdown and would want everything to come out of the car each day
3)I have to say that recently praying on the same subject I didnt have the guts to promise God that from this day forward,never again. I just promised to keep working on it. Maybe I should go ahead and try your way.
Robin said…
Thanks, Kelly, for sharing this experience, as I, too, need to learn to control my temper. It happens, for me, a whole lot more often, and I really, REALLY don't like this about myself. I am going to work harder to change this. Thank you for your example.
Julie V. said…
Everyone needs to know how great the quilt turned out, thanks for finishing it. Wow, what you had to go through the day before you came sounds intense. Way to go for making that commitment.
i think i need to take the same challenge! way to go kelly.
Bobbi said…
Kelly, This is a problem for many busy moms. Stress, frustration, impatience, and kids' mild disobedience/laziness that causes us more work adds up to anger. Yes, it is over a small thing, but mostly I think their lack of following through makes moms feel unvalued--like your advice wasn't followed and your time is worthless so you can just spend it driving to repair their lack of effort. Our feelings are hurt, and that's why we get angry. Good job on working to overcome it. It's hard, but, as you say, the Savior would have us do differently. And it is easier for the dads, who are not on the front lives, spending their valuable time driving to get a backpack, etc. You are a great lady! And your kids are lucky to have you!
That's awesome Kelly! It's hard for a mom to keep her cool all the time, especially with teenagers (or so my mom has told me!:) I applaud your commitment and I know you'll do a great job!
Kelly said…
Oops. Two days ago when I was on the telephone and Christopher kept interrupting me and I was trying to get the point across to him to wait until the call was over so I could hear the other line, I shouted loudly at him, "HUSH!" I apologized shortly thereafter and told him I felt bad, and then asked him to wait until I'm off the phone in the future to talk to me. Things are going well in this area still, in case you're wondering. I have found that there are times that I need to yell, but the kids are realizing that it's not in anger, but just to be loud enough so they can hear me when I'm downstairs and they are upstairs. They get it.

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