I've been reading a book entitled How to Really Love Your Adult Child by Chapman and Ross. I've had it on my Kindle for months and I started reading it months ago but lost interest. It wasn't because it wasn't good--the time was just not right. Has that ever happened to you? I can't believe how often that happens to me! I have several books that have "slept" quietly on my bookshelf or on my e-reader for months or even years, then one day, I just seem to be drawn to "wake up" the sleeping volume. By the time I'm finished, I know it was the Spirit of God who was wooing me "drink in" what the authors' poured out. Here's a quote from the introduction:
"The choice to be a parent is the choice to have your heart walking around outside your body as long as you live."
I don't think I could have absorbed this truth as a young mom, but as a mother of adult daughters I couldn't agree more. It seems to be different for me, however, than it is for my husband. I seem to "carry the weight" of their well-being more than he does. I have to wonder if that is just part of being the mother. From the moment of conception, we carry the weight of our children deep within us. Their triumphs and successes make our hearts soar, while their hurts, disappointments, and wanderings are tethered to our hearts for life.
What impacted most in this book is how the authors talked about anger.
"The way you manage your anger affects your children's (1) self-esteem; (2) sense of identity; (3) ability to relate to other people; (4) perceptions of the world; and (5) to manage stress and function in society."
Wow! One of the realizations I had in reading is that I often did not handle my anger well when my girls were growing up. I tended to either stuff it or vent it unbridled. I realize that some of the anger in my early years of mothering, was coming from the "unaddressed" and "unhealed" issues of my past. Although, I began dealing with the abuse I suffered as a child when I was 27, my early years of mothering were fraught with grief, anxiety, and deeply seated anger. I learned much later that feelings of powerlessness were at the root of many of my outbursts. I would often be overcome with guilt and remorse after verbally lashing out at my children, only to do it again the next day.
I still vividly remember a day when my oldest daughter, Heather was about four years old. She spilled something on the kitchen floor and I lost it. I saw the pain in her eyes as I spewed out my anger toward her. I immediately fell to the floor, took her in my arms and started crying uncontrollably. I told her "mommy is so sorry for screaming at you. This wasn't your fault. Mommy was hurt when I was a little girl and sometimes mommy reacts out of that hurt. Oh honey, I'm so sorry." I wish I could tell you that never happened again.
Maybe you can relate-either as a parent or as a child who had such experiences. Over the next few posts, I want to share more about the issue of anger. I'm going to share more of my defeats than my victories in hopes that you will be equipped to navigate whatever stage of parenting you may be in at present. I want you to know that wherever you are and wherever you have been, God's grace is enough. He knows, He sees, and He cares. He also redeems the "years the locusts have eaten."
Will you join me on this journey?