This is the first post in a read-along series on the book “She’s Gonna Blow: Real Help For Moms Dealing With Anger.”
Chapter 1 : How did I get here?
In chapter 1, Ms. Barnhill talks about the reasons we find ourselves getting angry. Among them she talks about our unrealized ideals of motherhood and loss of control.
When my first child was born I had grandiose ideas, too, just like Ms. Barnhill. But when he turned two months old and wasn’t sleeping through the night, nor even taking regular naps and I had no idea how to cope with that, I began to glimpse that I might not be the “natural” mother I had thought. I found that I couldn’t “control” his naptimes, his waketimes, or his eating. I was completely out of control and no parenting book helped me get it back.
I needed a parenting book that told me: you can’t do this. Your child won’t do what you think he should, because this baby is his own little person. Lean on Jesus and He’ll help you get to know this baby.
I wish I found that book, but it went downhill from there.
Today I’m all-too-familiar with the fact that the ideal in my mind is most likely not going to match the reality, but in those first few years of mothering especially, I was often blindsided when my vision didn’t pan out.
Recently, when I took all four children on a six hour drive to see my parents I had visions of us all listening to The Voyage of the Dawn Treader on CD. I thought the children would nap and color happily while listening quietly to the story play in the background.
What really happened? One son wanted me to turn it down so he could read his book. Another two children sat in the back seat fighting loudly (copying each other, calling each other “meany-ball”, hitting/scratching/pinching when necessary) while the baby screamed because they kept waking her up. I know this routine now, so I could adjust my expectations and apply appropriate disciplinary actions, but back in the earlier days this would have completely thrown me off guard.
Chapter 2: Volcanoes 101
Ms. Barnhill likens our tempers to volcanoes in Chapter 2
In an instant we can change from the peaceful, nourishing women we want to be into Mount Momma – spitting fire and brimstone at all who cross our path.
I have been convicted in my actions with my children. Not just over overt spats of anger, but even through my unkind words, sighs, and impatience. I have asked myself: is that how God acts with me? And have gotten a very clear answer. No. No He doesn’t. He is patient, He is kind. Even when I mess up for the thousandth time.
That’s one reason I wanted to read this book, to begin recognizing my anger towards my children and do something about it.
Which volcano/es did you identify with? Sadly, I saw a bit of myself in all of them.
Like the Strombolian volcano, I can often let my words sound frustrated and disappointed.
And I do identify with the Hawaiian volcano: “…she just keeps picking and harping.” I have come to believe a lot of this is because of my desire to control my children. If they would just do what I want! My goals for them are good and godly, they just need to reach them…NOW!
What about the other two volcanoes? I’d really like to say I don’t resemble them AT ALL! But sadly, I have.
I love this quote at the end of the chapter:
When you find yourself growing angry, don’t try to pretend to yourself that you’re not. But remind yourself that being angry doesn’t mean you have to act on your anger.
This is key to being released from our anger: first we have to admit that we get angry. Pretending we’re not (denial), will not help us face our problem.
Moms, we need each other, and we need to call upon the One who knit us each together, who knows each and every idiosyncrasy about every one of us. I want you to face the facts about yourself and your home and find lasting peace. I want you to recognize and understand your type of anger and know your triggers.
I want you to know that defusing Mount Momma is not a matter of being able to keep one more promise of control, but of giving control to the One who made you and knows your mother heart as no one else does.
Oh my friends! This last paragraph is paramount to our journey. In 12 Step programs around the world people daily recite these first three steps:
1. We admitted we were powerless over our [anger] – that our lives had become unmanageable.
It is through admitting our weakness that God is released to work in our lives. We absolutely have to be able to admit that we have messed up/keep messing up/and will mess up. He is the only one who can release us from this trap. I wrote a post for The Better Mom this month on Finding Acceptance In God.
Satan works when we maintain secrecy and insist on hiding our sins. When we consistently hide what we’ve done, we give him more and more power over us.
2. Came to believe that [God] could restore us to sanity.
We cannot do anything to help ourselves. Until we admit this, and realize that ONLY God can help us, we will continue in our sin.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.
We have to stop telling ourselves “I can do this”. In the first chapter Julie Ann says:
I would beat myself up over the bad things I had said, done, and thought. I’d find myself pledging “I’ll never,” and hoping for some miracle – and before I knew it I would be at it again.
These three steps give another view of what I think Julie Ann is writing about in these two chapters.
I think that’s enough from me for day one! I’m very excited to be reading this book with you and hope we can all learn a lot.
- Please share what these chapters have taught you, or what you liked the most. If you have written a post on these chapters, I’d love to see a link in the comments!
- If you aren’t able to read the book with us, here are a couple of questions from the book you can answer:
What parenting issues tend to be trigger points for your particular kind of anger?
What ideal of motherhood have you regretted giving up the most?
What is your greatest fear concerning your eruptive anger and your children?