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Monday, October 10, 2011

Irritable Mom Syndrome, Pt. 2

As I mentioned in my last post, I definitely have a case of Irritable Mom Syndrome. I want to change that. I want my children to have a happy childhood, not because it was perfect, but because Mom was happy.

In order to change, though, I need to know what causes my irritableness. I cannot just wake up one day and decide I'm going to be happy. I've tried that. Wasn't so successful. I'm going to need to change my thinking in other areas first.

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will" (Romans 12:2).

Below is a list of thinking processes and attitudes that I need to re-think and reprogram in my mind, in order to overcome this illness of irritableness. (Which, in reality, is sin.)

I and my plans are more important
Rash actions
Rejecting God's grace
Irrational expectations
Time vs. priority
Attitude of pride
Believing less about myself than God does
Living outside of the moment
Expecting adult behavior

I find that I have the same problem Danielle, who commented on part one, addressed. When I put my plans (housework, business work, etc.) at a higher priority than my children's hearts, I end up getting extremely annoyed at them for continually throwing wrenches into my plans. Love is not selfish. It gives freely.

When I discipline or address issues rashly, without a plan and without consistency, I only cause my children to feel like I do not care about them as much as I care about making sure their behavior is not annoying me. This makes them resistant to me, and in turn, makes me more irritable at the obvious lack of attitude change in them. Love takes the time to nuture the heart while directing the will.

God gives to me unconditional favor and love. When I reject His free gift and try to earn it, I fall flat on my face. I can never be a good enough mother to please Him with my success. I end up frustrated that I "can't do anything right". I need to snuggle up in the never failing grace of God.

The times I am most irritable are the times I look around me and see everything I should be doing right now. And I think to myself, "Why do you not accomplish more? I mean, seriously! There are moms out there with more children than you who have happy children, a spotless home, and make up on their faces. What's wrong with you??" I need to let them go. I need to just focus on the present need at the present moment. As Elizabeth Elliot said, "Just do the next thing."

Sometimes I become obsessed with the clock. "No. I cannot come build a train track with you. It's time to start school with Cherith." "No. I cannot read to you right now. It's time to make supper." Seriously, most of the time, taking a few minutes to fulfill a request would not throw off the rest of the day's schedule.

There are times when the only reason I "get after" one of my children is because they hurt my pride. I am irritated because they did something, said something, or displayed an attidue which poked me right in the pride gizzard. Of course, these moments then become moments of mommy failure, for loving discipline cannot be administered in the presence of mommy pride.

When I walk around as one big failure, I can't help but get annoyed at the ones who "cause" me to fail so often. I need to remember that I am God's creation, designed to bring Him glory. He takes great pleasure in me.

Some days, I realize I am living in a fog. I daydream the hours away, thinking about plans for the future or what I would do if all the kids were grown up, or where I would go if I could have a weekend away, or how nice the next "stage" in life will be compared to the current one. I get annoyed when a child's voice pops my paradise bubble. But while I am dreaming of "better days", I'm missing an entire day in the life of my sweet children.

Something I need to remember... They're still kids. It's often their childish behavior that gets to me. You know, stuff like squeezing acne treatment cream on the brand new carpet {it bleaches, by the way}, dumping an entire box of Cheerios down the furnace vent, throwing toys into a sink full of dirty dishes, squirting nearly 30 oz. of dish soap all over the kitchen floor. These are the things that only young children would do. I happen to have young children... NOT ADULTS. So why do I expect them to behave like adults? I just hope I can train that out of them. I'd sure hate for Ethan's wife to walk in the door from a long evening of grocery shopping and find Ethan standing in a puddle of dishsoap, guilty look on his face and bottle in his hand.

I guess, I can pretty much sum it up with:

Plan for kids. Kids happen. Every day. Every moment. Expect it and take each moment one at time.


  1. Hey Brenda, I know how easy it is for me to become irritable and impatient with my boys... Sometimes it's because I've honestly put way too many things on my list of things to do in one day. Sometimes it's because of things out of my control that seem to come up and continually create an upheaval in our schedule. I know that there are lots of things that people can recommend that you'd do in order to "reprogram" yourself and the way you think and respond but one thing seems to make the most difference to me: taking time to talk/visit with other women (both in this "season" of life and those with children already grown) who genuinely love children and verbally express to me how blessed I am and how precious my sons are... When I hear this on a regular basis, it helps me to actually think that way myself. Osmosis, maybe. Or brainwashing... or maybe simply God's design for women to be able to help each other. =)

  2. Brenda, So many of your words speak to my situation right now. I appreciate your honesty and the specific words you have chosen. I feel that I need to reread your post over and over again to be reminded what I should choose to do and choose not to do. I specifically appreciate your paragraph on discipline.

    As you alluded to God's love for us...I started to consider how we should exemplify God's love to our kids. If God loves us unconditionally, I need to ask God to help me do the same for my kids.

  3. I am so glad I "met" you through a link to a swap awhile back...I too am in the season of little ones and am struggling daily, beating myself up for my outbursts, for not getting done what should get done...for school being a big crazy mess with a thousand interruptions...I think you were describing me as all you said sounds like how I have been feeling...we are taking a few days off to regroup...however, I am lost as to what to do or where to agree with Janel on visiting with other women...unfortunately where I isn't possible as there are so few homeschoolers and I find that people have a hard time being this honest about how their life really is...guess its that whole pride thing...anyway...I don't think I have advice for you...but wanted to reach out and tell you thank you for making me feel less abnormal.

  4. Thanks, all of you, for your comments. They are encouraging.

  5. Yes, you are not alone! I have to remind myself that if my kids are constantly doing something which they have been told not to do, I can't keep addressing it the same way to get different results. After my young daughter was in my (somewhat expensive) makeup for the ump-teenth time, I stopped, and took a breath. Then I took a picture -- things that are so awful in the moment are usually very funny later. The punishment, which was really just a consequence of her actions, was to use mommy's face wash over the sink to remove all the glittery liquid eyeshadow she had applied from brow to chin. Soap all over her face -- even across her eyes? No make up problems since!