A Lesson from Motherhood: Learn to Laugh (so you can yell less)

There’s two year old who lives in my house, so there’s a lot of angst to go around. She misses her siblings who have abandoned her for school all day. But when they get home, they’re tired, and they don’t want to play with her. She tries to bate them to play with her, but this just makes them mad and escalates the situation. There’s hitting, there’s shouting. There are so many tears.

So much change. So few coping skills. So many emotions. This all has led to a pretty angry atmosphere in the house. Unfortunately, anger is a fire that spreads. And the two year old has been setting the tone for the whole house.

In truth, it’s been my reaction to Hannah and her uncooperative siblings that’s actually setting the tone. Because I’ve given her control through my reactions.

Disturbed by the atmosphere in my home, by my own shortcomings, I searched for a devo in my online Bible app to get me reoriented in the proper direction. I found just what I was looking for in a study that promised to rid your home of angry parenting techniques. Sign. Me. Up. On the first day of reading this new study, I was cut to the heart by so many truths…

Blessing follows obedience. This is why I desperately want to teach my children the importance of obedience. Yet, my own angry responses were not obedient to God’s Word which instructs me not to sin in my anger.
In addition, I know that I don’t feel good when I suffer criticism, or if someone should yell at me. How can I expect my children to blossom under that kind of treatment?
Finally, the icing on the cake… “There’s nothing that anger can do that love can’t do better.” WOW. I got on Amazon, ordered the full book, ordered the study guide. Sold.

And then yesterday happened. I sent the children upstairs to wash their hands after school while I fixed a snack. I asked my son Micah to help his little sister wash her hands, but he passed the buck to his older sister Sophie. The one with autism. The one who loves to play in the water. Can you see where this is going? All you need to add to the picture is the knowledge that our bathroom sink drain is quite slow. I was busy making sandwiches, and you know, time flies and all, so I wasn’t tuned in to the length of time that the girls had been “washing their hands.”

Hannah walks out of the bathroom as I’m putting sandwiches on the table: “Mommy, I’m all wet!”

Indeed. Drenched is a better adjective. Saturated. Soaked.

Sensing that something was amiss, Micah bolted up the stairs. He loves to get his sisters in trouble. “Mom! There’s water everywhere! The girls overflowed the sink!”

Palm to face. Lord Almighty. “In your anger, do not sin,” I whispered under my breath repeatedly as I marched up the stairs.

What a sight to behold. The whole sink top was flooded, dixie cups floating tither and yon, and water was drizzling down the sides of the sink. It looked like the toilet, on the other side of the room, might float away. I think I even saw a lego man trying to hop into a boat among the bath toys.

“In your anger do not sin. In your anger do not sin. In your anger do not sin!!!!”

With a surprising clam only explained by the presence of the Holy Spirit, I sent Sophie to her room and began mopping up the flood. I found a lot of dirt in the process, so I guess that was good. The bathroom’s really clean now. Super.

But wait, folks, that’s not all!

After the great flood, we headed outside to enjoy this nice cool fall day. The children recently acquired a gift from their daddy’s work in the form of a power wheels vehicle that they can tool around the yard in. It’s large and a bit hard for me to wield, getting it out of the garage, past the minivan, up the small hill in our front yard, but I had promised Micah, the shirker who ultimately began the series of events that led to the great flood, so I got the car out, even though our time was cut short from the great mop up.

Micah drove the car into the back yard and started doing loops on the pre-approved track near our yard. Our three year old neighbor girl and my two year Hannah old jumped in to ride.

At some point while I was shooting the breeze with my neighbor, trying to catch just one little moment of sanity with another grown up, describing in elaborate terms the flood that had just occurred, Micah (the shirker) abandoned the ship to use the restroom (sparkling clean!), without my knowledge. And he left the three year old and two year old girls at the helm of the power wheels. (Shirking again!) Before I could catch them, they had run into the neighbor’s down spouting, rammed our fence, and pinned a patio chair to our tree, snapping it in two. As I reached them to get them out of this pickle, shouting and directing them to stop pushing the pedal, to reverse the car, to get out, to desist, for goodness sake, desist, they took good care to drive the car directly into my shins, and then, when backing up, over my foot.

“In your anger do not sin. In your anger do not sin. In your anger do not sin!!!!”

As I evacuated everyone from the power wheels toy-turned-weapon, I felt my ire raising. But I also felt something else: A holy desire to laugh at all of it. I’m a firm believer in the adage that motherhood is sanctifying. And if I’m going to decide to work on an aspect of my spiritual life, you better believe I’m going to have opportunities to practice. That is what is meant by the working out of your faith (Phil 2:12). God is not a genie in a bottle, good old Pastor Ron always says, who wants to zap you into holiness. If you want to get better at something, he gives you chances to practice. My day yesterday was the prefect example. I’m glad I was able to laugh, rather than scream or cry. Rather than a tone of anger, this is the tone I want to set for my home — a tone of humor, laughter, grace, and more grace.

You won’t be surprised to know that the same types of difficulties unfolded again this morning. (I’ve never mopped my floors before 8AM until today, out of necessity, I assure you!!) But I’m hanging on to my peace. My shins are still hurting, but my heart is happy.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Prov 17:22)

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One Response to A Lesson from Motherhood: Learn to Laugh (so you can yell less)

  1. Bonnie Weberling

    Thank you for such a delightful post, Catherine! Your knack for story-telling certainly made it so! (Your line about thinking you saw a lego man jump into a boat among the bath toys had me lol! Too funny!). Your tale sure did bring back a lot of memories, as well as feelings that I had myself raising our boys — I had the same struggles and difficulties with holding it together in the midst of mothering. Mothering definitely isn’t for wimps! Lol. I just wish I could have/would have laughed a WHOLE lot more than I did back then, right in the midst of whatever was the dilemma. It wasn’t usually that hard to laugh afterward, after the “crises” were over, but much harder to handle it all with patience and grace in the middle of it! I am really glad you are learning this so early on in your parenting! I firmly believe that having a sensitive funny bone will help you even more in the years ahead! But most importantly, your sensitive heart to God’s spirit and what He is showing you will be the best help, as you know! What you’ve written very much applies to everyone in all situations, beyond just motherhood, too! Learning to laugh at situations that are out of our control, and also at ourselves, is an important lesson for all ages and all circumstances! (That’s what I love so much about your writing! You are skilled at making your insights applicable to everyone across the board! Hats off to you, my friend! ❤️ ). Thank you for this encouraging reminder about the importance of humor, but especially of setting the tone of grace and more grace — wherever we find ourselves each day! 🤗 😚

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