My son had just produced a wonderful drawing in red marker (his favorite color) of our family flying kites. (As a side note, I am loving this new era when a child’s artwork is easy to discern without my vague, “Ooooh! Tell me about that!”) In the drawing, my stick hands are on my wonderfully thin stick hips and hair is sprouting all over my circle head, but my eyebrows look downturned. “I made you look mad on accident, but you’re really happy,” he explained practically.

I was curious — wanted to know: “Am I usually mad?”

“Well, you’re mad a lot, but not in this picture.”

“I’m mad a lot?”

His eyes flickered a little. “Well, you’re mad sometimes, like when we break stuff that’s important to you.” Hmm.

This might not have stung so much if I hadn’t been particularly hormonal at the moment, following a day-and-a-half when anyone over four feet tall would have identified me as such. All my children are shorter, so I just seemed extremely irritable.

But it was also hard to hear because I dedicate a lot of prayer and effort into overcoming anger — because I have an anger problem. I can give you my reasons, but truth is, it matters very little. I can even tell you the things I do wonderfully as a mom, but again — that would be simply smoke and mirrors, diverting your attention from the fact that I get angry too easily at my kids and typically overreact in ways that are hurtful to them. I’ve blogged about this before, and I know that I’m not alone in feeling that young children bring out anger in a woman like nothing else! But typical does not equal harmless.

So I’ve renewed my prayers even more lately because I’ve come to understand that no amount of self-discipline can actually change my heart. And here’s a quote I found that both hurt and helped me gain perspective:

“… you overcome your own anger and replace it with tenderhearted joy. Joy that spills over onto your children. When the mouth of dad [or mom!] is angry, the tender emotions of a child are consumed.”

Seeing my children’s tenderness curl up in the flames of my anger was a vivid image for me. The author basically explained that God went to great lengths and self-sacrifice to lay down His (very justified) anger toward me — by sending Jesus. So I, too, should imitate God that way.

And I’m actually experiencing some victory over this old foe! I’m thanking God with my kids at bedtime when I have days that He has helped control my anger the entire day, and we pray for it together — especially when I need to ask their forgiveness. In my prayers for them, I pray that they’ll be better than I am in this way. But one of the best ways to accomplish that, as always, is to model it myself.

Here’s to a future happy stick-mom!