Vases of Grace

Vase of Grace

I blew it. I blew my top with my son. Again.

I don’t mean to do it. I really don’t. I don’t mean to yell at him.

He’s a good kid. A great kid really. He’s smart, funny, and caring. He’s a Lego pro. He does great character voices when reading aloud or playing make-believe. He “gets” God and Jesus and grace better than some people five times his age.

It is not his fault that I yell at him. Even if he does bad stuff, I’m the grown-up–responsible for keeping my own reactions in check.

There’s no good reason to angry-yell at any kid–none that I can think of in the whole wide world. Not a single one. It’s just plain wrong.

Add to that I’m this mom who is passionate about Positive Discipline, making a point to offer loving support, and non-punitive correction. I should know better. I should do better.

When I yell, I know that it is me who is out of control. I know that.

And I want to be quick to tell you that it doesn’t happen very often. Most of the time, we’re all pretty laid back around here. We get along well in my family of three: we cooperate, we talk about anything and everything, and we’re generally really nice people.

I don’t yell all the time. Hardly ever really. It’s almost not even worth bringing up lest you get the wrong idea about me. It’s not that bad…

Except, I saw a headline the other day that if you yell at your child it can cause as much emotional harm as physical abuse. I would never lay a hand on my child. I’ve never even spanked him as discipline. Ever.

But to think that my out-of-control yelling could cause him emotional harm?

Oh, Lord have mercy.

And I see it. Rather, I hear some of the fall-out of the yelling. “I’m the stupidest kid in the world!” is a typical response when I yell at him. His negative self-talk peaks whenever I lose control with my tone of voice.

Two Tuesdays ago, after I yelled I was quick to apologize. And he was quick to forgive saying, “That’s okay mommy. I’m kind-of used to it.”

Oh child. Oh sweet boy.

“You shouldn’t have to be used to that. Mommy is wrong to yell. Just as I want you to talk to mommy in a respectful tone of voice, you can expect the same from me. When I don’t speak to you respectfully, it is wrong.”

I spent the better part of that day feeling really crummy for having yelled, and for him being “kind-of used to it.” And my own negative self-talk dominated my inner-dialog.

But something happened that gave me hope. I can’t remember if it was the same day or the day after that, but I was still beating myself up about the yelling when my son brought me flowers from the yard.

Before I had a chance to come and see the flowers, he put them in glasses of water. But the stems were far too short to reach the bottom of the glasses, so he custom-engineered supports out of some of his Legos to keep the blooms above the water level.

These vases of grace gave me hope. Great hope. Hope that his predominate mode is confidence and kindness, not self-loathing. Hope that I get a second chance to do better. Hope that we can move forward and that he had already moved past the difficult moment on which I had still been dwelling.

It has happened again since I got those vases. But I caught it quicker. And I’m recognizing my triggers–triggers that have nothing to do with him at all. And I’m seeing that some of what triggers my out-of-control behavior are stressors that I can reduce or eliminate. So, with God’s help I’m working on all that.

It is important work, but it is a work in progress. But the vases, those beautiful vases remind me that there is grace, even for me.

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Lemae on October 2, 2013 at 7:18 am

    Yes, indeed families are grace growing and grace in action! Try not to be so hard on yourself for emotional outbursts. Your son will have them too in coming years. Sharing and talking about them does help lay the foundation for both of you in dealing with them! Who knows, maybe they are practice runs for when we really need emotional outrage? Even Jesus drove the money changers out of the temple! But of course I know that these triggers aren’t to that level! Hang in there being a good Mom to a great child while being a human being with all that entails: flawed, imperfect, but filled with grace and love!

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