In the middle of a tirade, I looked over at my small child and saw that she had her hands over her ears.
I was yelling so loudly that my 4-year-old daughter was scared of me.
I am not a yeller, I swear. I did not grow up in a family that yelled, and I am not married to someone who yells. I am more familiar with pouting, silent treatment, passive aggressive snarky remarks, or just no action at all. Yelling is almost foreign to me.
And yet, when my beautiful, passionate, funny, charming daughter decided that she did not want to go to bed, started slamming doors and wailing with her hands in the air, my buttons got pushed in a manner that I never thought could be possible.
I lost it. If I had stopped to look in a mirror, I would not have recognized the face that stared back at me.
My daughter is a blessing in more ways than one. After a stillbirth and then infertility, after grief and trying everything possible (medical intervention, acupuncture, therapy and more), we finally decided to see if adoption was the right choice for us. And it was. From start to finish, the process was actually shorter than a pregnancy, and in five months, we somehow wound up with the most precious rainbow baby in our longing arms.
So when I pictured the mom I wanted to be for so long, I thought I would be a calm and patient and nurting mother. I thought the years of mourning and sadness and then desperation and longing would make me the best mom ever. Turns out that was not exactly true.
Four years ago, I learned the value of patience. And I learned how necessary it is as a parent to have some.
So why did I just lose mine so spectacularly? I was so naïve. Even though our path to parenthood was non-traditional and deeply emotional, that really had no impact on the kind of parent I am at all.
The truth is, patience is not soemthing that has ever come easy to me. If I have to stand in the line at the grocery store too long, I become that annoyed customer who sighs under my breath and taps my toes loudly. I want things the way I want them, and I don’t have a lot of compassion for when things do not go my way.
So after the yelling incident that left me feeling absolutely awful, I started to do some research. It was time to figure out why my daughter is acting out at night and time to learn how to fix it. If I can learn to be patient, then surely she can learn how to express herself more calmly. We can both change. I have a few books that I am reading, and I am asking for help from other parents whenever I can.
As the adult, it’s up to me to change my behavior. I do not believe you are ever too old to change your ways, especially if it is for the benefit of those you love.
I do not want to be a yeller, so I will not be one.
I may have to repeat that sentence like a mantra every night at bedtime until we work through this phase. But if that is what it takes, then that is exactly what I will do.