In the traditional church calendar we are now in Lent. This is a time of 40 days fasting and prayer observed from Ash Wednesday until Easter. As I grew up in England, Lent has at times been part of my church tradition.
I love the idea of forgoing something for these forty days to focus on the meaning of Easter. So some years I have given up meat. In other years chocolate or alcohol. And last year social media.
But this year, I found myself toying with a very different challenge. The idea kept coming back to me, and as much as I tried to discard and discredit it, I couldn’t. This year I felt I needed to give up yelling.
This is hard for me to admit, but I have become one of those mums where yelling is not my last resort. Instead it has become somewhat of a habit. A habit that sounds like “get in the car; GET IN THE CAR”.
It is my go-to reaction for dealing with kids who seem to be worn out from listening to teachers all day. Kids who just don’t seem to even hear mum, unless she yells. It is the wrong reaction I know. To put it out there and share it with you feels like slicing open my insides. But it is what I do. And despite telling myself to stop and trying to stop, there has been no traction.
Enter Lent; enter this nagging feeling that this needed to be my fast for this forty days. Enter my husband, my best friend and my sister to keep me accountable.
On day one I broke the fast. I yelled at my eldest for something she did at the dinner table, that I had repeatedly told her not to do. I felt like a failure. I questioned whether I should even continue with the fast. But my soul wasn’t going to let me get out of it that easily.
You see this decision. This pact that I have made with God and my closest circle. This is not just a decision for today. This is a decision for tomorrow. I don’t want my tomorrows to be yelling at my kids. I don’t want their memories of mum being “she yelled a lot”. I want their memories to be of a mum who had compassion and fun and hugs. I want them to grow up with a sense of right and wrong and discipline yes, but not because I am louder! Not because I drown out all other voices.
So I am going to keep on with this fast. Because even if I break it again and yell today, I have a vision of a tomorrow when I don’t. And that is enough for me.