Last week one of my Facebook friends posted a link to a blog post titled “When Satan Steals Your Motherhood.” It was just click-baity enough that I clicked on it. The gist of it is that when you yell at your kids, Satan claps. I am a religious person (in that I sporadically attend church), but I don’t really go all-in on the notion of Satan, which is fortunate because I yell at my kids so much that Satan would be giving me a constant standing ovation, sometimes interrupted by a slow golf clap when I don’t yell but instead whisper to my husband, “Can I claim to be exposed to Ebola so that I could have 21 days of just being left the hell alone?”
I am trying to get better about yelling. It makes me and the kids feel lousy, and it’s not even particularly effective. But I think even the saintliest mother would snap when stuck behind four slow-moving tractors and a public works truck while late for school with one kid throwing Cheddar Bunnies around the car and the other saying, “Mom, can you read what the back of your temporary license plate says? Mom? Hey, Mom? Mom? I want to know what it says, but I can’t read it because I’ll get carsick. Mom? Mom? Can you read it in the rearview mirror? Please? Mom? Can you hear me? Mom? Mom? HEY MOM CAN YOU HEAR ME MOM I REALLY WANT TO KNOW WHAT IT SAYS MOM MOM MOM MOMMYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!”
I am a total introvert, and I crave quiet like a drug, so the constant talking and questions and noise definitely take their toll on me. I frequently drop the kids off at school and then drive to work without the radio on just because I need to hear nothing for a little bit.
Even as I get better about not yelling, I know I’ll never stop entirely. But when I do yell, I always apologize and explain what triggered it in kid-friendly language – i.e. I don’t say, “Mommy lost her temper because you would not shut up and Mommy hasn’t been able to so much as pee by herself in days,” even if that’s technically true. (Also, I swore I would never ever ever ever be the kind of woman who called herself “Mommy” in the third person, but of course this is just one of 80 million other pre-actually-being-a-parent parenting rules I have utterly disregarded.) Instead, I say, “I am so sorry I yelled. Sometimes, though, you need to ask a question and then be quiet while you wait for a response because otherwise Mommy loses her temper. Still, though, I should not have yelled, and I apologize. Can we start over?”
And we can. We always can. We make it through each day with a combination of laughing, yelling, hugging and talking – and at the end of the day, no matter how rough a day it’s been, we always end up curled up in bed, Ruby on one side of me and Georgia on the other, and they fall asleep in my arms and I just lie there for a while, drinking in the silence and kissing their sweet foreheads. I don’t care what 1,000 parenting books tell me about how kids need to learn to fall asleep on their own; this is the absolute best part of my day, and we all need it.
And Satan? If yelling makes Satan clap, I don’t know what this quiet snuggly love fest makes Satan do. And I really don’t care, just so long as it’s quiet.