Now, there is some background information you must know. I am NOT by nature either patient or gentle. I actually struggle with fits of rage probably as much as the 2 and 3 year olds I am trying to parent. I am loving, but in my loud, authoritative way. I have been praying for patience and the ability to parent without yelling, because I know the brain research behind yelling. I studied psychology in preparation to become a teacher. The recipient of yelling goes into to flight or flight mode and literally does NOT hear what you are saying. They are just surviving.
The knowledge I have from teaching worked great in the classroom. I could always keep my cool in a class full of 12 year olds, because I knew "I only have ___ minutes left." Parenting, on the other hand, can make me feel like there is no escape. This is for-ev-er. At that point, a wire snaps in my brain and all my knowledge gives way to my own self preservation and sanity... which usually surfaces as "ahhhhhhhhhhhh! Just ...... arghhhhhhhh!"
Now, back to Starbucks and the growing melt-down. I just start to pull out thinking that he will snap out of it. Clayton had other ideas and escalates. He started yelling repeatedly, "I wanna go to RAIDEN'S HOUSE! You're naughty mommy!!!! I don't want you!" He was thrashing at this point. The thought of driving 20 min home made me cringe, so I pull back into a parking spot and get firm, "You don't speak to me that way." I give him the count down, "1....2.....3.... Now that really did it! Finally, I tell him he needs to calm down and try to take him from the car, as he is grabbing the car seats.
God must really answer prayer, because I was somehow calm! I was given patience and to my surprise... understanding washed over me! I grabbed my little boy in a big hug and said, "Just tell mom who loves you that you are really really sad, and it is just too much to handle alone." I continued to hug him, and my little boy went limp and hugged me back. There we were sitting in the middle of the Starbucks parking lot...hugging. We just didn't let go of each other.
Tears starting to fill my eyes, and my little boy just cried: Not spunking, Not yelling, just sad. At that moment, I can picture my heavenly father quietly talking to me in my fits of rage, "Just call on me." "Just tell me this is more than you can handle. I will carry you." Oh how I love him! Oh how he loves me! Now... I can love my kids. I can be patient. I can be gentle.
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
P.S. This blog was in part inspired by one that I read a few weeks ago called the gentleness challenge.