By Sabrina Schlesinger
My dad’s name is Frank, but people call him Pepper. It was a nickname he received when he was a kid and it just stuck. I’ve always loved his nickname and wished I would have named one of my girls after him, because that name is so stinking cute! I was never so lucky in the nickname game. A had only a few call me “Sab” and even at that, it was hardly ever used.
But what I didn’t have in my youth, I more than made up for in nicknames as a mom!!! Unfortunately one of my nicknames wasn’t so much a term of endearment as it was an indictment. They called me Crazy Mom. Yep. That was me. It’s not a name I was proud of, but it was one I most definitely earned.
To be honest, I may have given myself that title back in the day when I had three children under 6 and was feeling a bit insane and emotionally spent. If you can’t tell, I am a pretty passionate person. And although this trait has been a great asset in so many areas of my life, the one area it had failed me was when it came to reacting to my kids. I was a yeller, a screamer, and a “throw my hands up in the air and emotionally lose it” kind of mom. I cringe at the fact that my outbursts caused fear and confusion in my little ones at times, even though I never physically hurt them. After all, I was their safe place and the one who was supposed to help keep them calm when they were upset. And now they were seeing me throw my own adult tantrum.
I am glad to say it has been YEARS since I have worn that embarrassing title. It took work and patience, but here are three ways I simmered down and removed my Crazy Mom label.
1. I gave myself time outs
You heard me. I put myself in time outs. This wasn’t me putting my nose on the wall or sitting in a time out chair, but it was taking steps away (mentally, physically or emotionally) from the chaos that was causing my blood to boil. I had to recognize when I was reaching my tipping point, and before I got there, I had to find ways to release the build up…and quick, because I was a mom of young children who obviously couldn’t go long without supervision. So if it meant me putting a TV show on for a few minutes so I could go into the bathroom, cry it out, and ask God to help me, then that is what I would do. So give yourself a break and find a moment to exhale the anger and inhale God’s patience and perspective.
2. I stopped blaming my kids
I had a bad habit of making excuses for my bad attitude. I would justify to myself or my husband the reason I was so overwhelmed, upset, or yelling at the kids. It was because of THEM and what THEY DID! It didn’t matter that I would have never let them get away with blaming others for their choices.
In order for me to change this mindset, I had to start owning my bad choices. I had to preach to myself the hard truth that no one, not even my kids, could “make” me feel a certain way. That was all me, every time.
If I’m honest, when my little ones would fight or throw fits, I would take offense to it. I would take it as a personal vendetta against my parenting. I had to start seeing their disobedience or disrespect was not about me, it was about their relationship with God, and my job was to teach them and train them to relate to Him rightly. When I changed my perspective and filters on this, it made it so much easier to navigate the meltdowns.
3. I asked for help
There are so many great women who have gone before us and can help us. But for the longest time, I never reached out because of pride. I didn’t want to admit I wasn’t doing it well. I didn’t want others to know I felt like a failure and was embarrassed by my own personal tantrums and outbursts. I liked figuring things out on my own, because then I would be the only one who could get the credit. Yikes! How ugly is that. But it was the truth.
It started with admitting to my husband how desperate I was, how lonely I was, and how angry I felt all the time. It continued with us finding mentors in older parents who had raised successful kids. We would interview them and ask them questions and would invite them into our world to give us feedback and counsel. I can’t tell you how much this changed me. And it still does. I haven’t stopped this and I hope I never do.
Reaching out for help, finding those people you trust with the ugly parts of your heart, and giving them permission to cut away the areas that are hurting you and your kids will only make you stronger. They will help refine you, sharpen you, and strengthen you to be all that you are called to be as a woman, a wife, a friend, and yes…a mom.
So if you wear a label much like the one I used to wear, don’t believe the lie that this has to define you forever. Take the steps and start today. Invite the Holy Spirit to shine a light on the areas of your life that need repented of, changed, or even removed. He will be faithful, if you allow Him, to teach and instruct you, because He loves you so much.
Sabrina is a mother to three biological girls and one adopted boy. She is a pastor’s wife, graphic designer, founder of Mom Mentor and the brand new Parenting on the Go Podcast! She resides in beautiful San Diego where the sun shines every day. She prefers chai lattes over coffee, mac-n-cheese over vegetables, and staying in over going out. Check her out on Instagram and Facebook!