Sister, step away from the phone. No need to alert CPS just yet. However, I do think that my transparency and vulnerability on a topic that generally remains shame-filled and kept behind closed doors will help reach other parents who share my struggle. So, here it goes.

I yell at my kids.

I am not talking about every once in a while, after a horribly long day filled with bad news, a fender bender, and a fight at work, I lose my grip on being a Proverbs 31 woman. Girl, please.

I am talking about the kind of yelling that can become pervasive in our home if I am not prayerful and vigilant against this part of me. I am talking about the kind of mind-numbing, hairs on the back of your neck standing up, velociraptor shrieks that make it painfully obvious why my son cowers in the corner if I start.

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This is a part of me that carries great embarrassment and pain. I am not one who knows how to manage emotions well. I prefer to compartmentalize, laugh it off, and stuff it down until all of that mixes up like baking soda and vinegar and the explosion becomes a mighty one.

I say all of this to let people in on my secret because, as parents, I think we hide too much.

We smile in the face of other drivers in the pick-up lanes at school. We laugh at the PTA meetings even though we know we bought our cookies at Kroger and then slapped those puppies on a tray from home before we got out of the car. We are just plain posers sometimes.

That posing though, that is what gets some of us from A to B without completely having a breakdown in the grocery aisle (which, full disclosure, I have done).

All of that said, it is my duty as the mother of my kids, their protector and their biggest cheerleader to learn to be forward moving through this struggle and stop pretending it isn’t mine.

So, if you are a yelling mama too, here is what I am learning.

  1. Take a breath. This is what we teach our son who deals with behavior diagnosis. It works. And girl, if you have to audibly count to 10 or ask the Lord Himself to give you peace, you better pray, girl!
  2. Be mindful of your triggers. I know that when I am overtired or hungry it is a total #HideYoKidsHideYoWife situation. I am talking throw me some crackers and hide behind something metal. So I know if I am feeling those ways, I need to let my kids know that I need some space for a specific amount of time so that they know when it is all clear. I mean, sister, don’t try to snuggle me when I haven’t eaten since noon and you woke me up last night at 2 a.m. because you had a nightmare. It’s rough out here!
  3. Own it and ask for accountability. Admitting this is a real issue for you is both freeing and humbling. It allows you to stop feeling phony and start overcoming your yucky stuff. But it isn’t enough to say it out loud, mama. Get someone you trust, your spouse or best friend, to hold you accountable. Maybe you text them if you feel like you’re about to snap or they check in on you at the end of the week to be sure you’re good. Knowing that check-in is there will help you think twice before exploding.
  4. Humbly and honestly apologize when you fail. This hurts for some, but it is healing for me. My boy is in trouble a lot because his behavior disorders are tough. So, he understand that. But to show him that grown-ups can be vulnerable and that they mess up too it very powerful. There is such greatness in this step.
  5. Have an outlet. Whether you are a runner, a writer, or someone who needs a hot bath to decompress, be sure you give yourself time to do that. Nothing has to cost money or even time before the kiddos are in bed, but you need you-time or you’ll implode.

Being a recovering yelling mama is not something I am proud of nor is it something I hope my kids remember about me. However, this is as much a part of me as the things about which I would happily tell a friend over coffee. So, mamas, we need to own all of ourselves-the beautiful and the hidden. That is how we dust it off and are able to move forward.

Brynn Burger

I am a wife, a mother, a teacher, a friend, a writer, a lover of all things outdoors, and sometimes a shell of my former self. Parenting a child with behavior disabilities has become both my prison and my passion. I write so I can breathe. This is my therapy. I hope that my violent vulnerability and use of humor will help you to power through this with me. It is the only way I know.