My Miracle Is That I Have Never Hit My Children

I believe in God because I have never hit my children. It is my miracle. Was I born with a temper? I don’t know. But I was fierce and violent and angry for long time.

It is winter in Connecticut and I am in seventh grade. The pond outside our middle school is frozen solid and for P.E., we are playing ice hockey. My best friend since second grade is the goalie. She let’s the puck slide by and I whirl around on my skates and whack her with my hockey stick. It happens before I have a chance to stop it.

In tenth grade a good friend of mine makes a joke. I slap him across the face while standing by my locker. I don’t even remember the joke.

I am weaving my Jeep Gran Cheroekee SUV in and out of my lane as I tailgate the older couple in front of me. I end up running them off the road. For going to slow. I am in 12th grade. I have no place to be.

My emotional outbursts are even more common than my physical reactions. I call boyfriends horrible names. I scream and threaten. I cry in wracking sobs whenever confronted with losing an argument.

I am not proud of these events. I hate that I can go story after story on my sharp tongue and clenched fists. It is not comfortable to admit to them without being able to read your face. To sense your judgement.

The truth is I get away with a lot of behavior for a long time, but I wish to be free from anger while I keep embracing it. Running and dancing with it like anger and I are best friends. I don’t understand that I have other options. Because it always happens so suddenly. I would be minding my own business and some minor transgression occurs. Rarely important in the scheme of things. But I would be awash with rage. Like a dying animal whose last instinct is to take everyone down with me. And I’d lash out and up and down and then I’d come to. And try to find ways to justify the holes in my walls and the tears of my boyfriend.

Today it is easier to admit to these because I don’t hit anymore. I don’t scream. I don’t call people names (well to their faces at least). In fact, it’s been many years since I succumbed to that side. Of me. In me. And if you aren’t there yet, if you still scream and hit, you won’t find judgment from me. Unless you don’t want to change. Because I understand living with anger. But I don’t understand enjoying it.

Why have I changed? I don’t really know. The only significantly different action in the last decade of my life is an active and ever-expanding relationship with God.

Do I worry that I sound like a Jesus freak? Yup. But it’s not just believing that changes me.

During my first year of hanging out with God, I have a reprieve from my anger. And I think that I am free. Just made God my BFF. I’m good to go. And I meet my husband during this time. Yay! I’m still a bit crazy but in that quirky, write-a-book-about-me, way. I think.

But when Scott and I get engaged, I lose it. I become a hateful, raging lunatic, again. And I only do two things right during these awful months: I don’t hitting anyone and I believe that I can change. I believe that I don’t have to act on the anger in my heart.

So I learn to pray: God please remove my anger and direct me to the next right thing to do.

I learn to count to ten before opening my mouth. I would’ve laughed at you (or smacked you upside the head) had you suggested it before I am ready to grow. But for me, it works. For so long I thought that the rage would just sweep me away. I had to act to survive. But often my anger falls away just as rapidly as it rises. If I let go. If I give it time.

But sometimes ten seconds is not enough. So I learn to take space. Back then, I would lock myself in the bathroom and breathe. And cry with balled up fists of impotence and embarrassment. Today, space sometimes looks like my daughter crying in her crib. My son in front of the television. Me typing on my computer.

In my attempt to stay off anger’s doorstep, I do even more. I ask for help. After ten months of not sleeping more than two hours at a time with my first child, I lose my mind. Literally. A friend says: Ask for help. Now. You sound like a lunatic. So I do. And just one person, for one hour, once a week, helps enormously. I don’t even leave the house. But I can cook dinner. And that feels like a life again.

Eventually, I learn how to integrate help into my parenting world. And when I don’t have help but see the edge creeping closer, I just don’t do overwhelming things. If the day isn’t going well, I cancel plans. Or I make plans if home isn’t going well. Sometimes a change of scenery changes everything.

Honestly, since my first year of marriage, I spend most of my days calm. I may over-relate to my son’s temper. I may take pictures to remember the fun of it all. But I rarely find anger in my heart.

Don’t be fooled though. That mama is inside me. The I-will-give-you-something-to-cry-about mama. And I hate her for being inside me. I hate what I am capable of.

Until I remember to be grateful for her. Because if she wasn’t there, I might forget why I believe in God. You see, my children have never met that mama. And that is my miracle. I have never hit my children.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

23 thoughts on “My Miracle Is That I Have Never Hit My Children

  1. I was the exact same way growing up. I once swung a solid-wood Louisville Slugger at my sister’s head because she told me not to walk in the street. It took a long time to master my anger and learn to control it.

    I was actually a little scared to have children because I was afraid my anger would come back and I would take it out on them. In fact, when I brought my first child home from the hospital, I did have a few weeks of incomprehensible rage to overcome, but I was able to have private little temper tantrums in the bathroom. I think I might have thrown a few pillows at our dog, too, but I think she’s forgiven me now :p

    Anyway- I know the struggle you’ve faced completely, and I applaud you for learning to overcome it. And it’s beautiful that God–and it sounds like some good friends, also–were able to fortify you.

  2. You’re so very brave! No judgment from here. We all have our paths with emotions.
    I grew up pushing rage down. I just got scared. Scared when someone yelled. (“He hit me with his voice,” I said of my grandpa.) Scared when the ice cold of anger came through me. It was a terrifying thing to learn that anger isn’t the end of the world. And it took me years. I find my relief in a punching bag outside, and in changing circumstances if they’re just too much. I wish I never raised my voice. I keep trying to find ways to be calmer. But, when I do raise my voice, I stop. And I remember that I am being an example of how to calm down, and teaching them that anger doesn’t mean I don’t love them.
    .-= Kate´s last blog ..just a couple of little moments… =-.

  3. This is such a courageous and honest post. Anger is not one of those things that’s easy to admit to yourself, and then to try and change. It is great that you learned to accept help once you became a parent. I didn’t grow up learning any really healthy ways to express anger, hurt, fear, etc. and when faced with those feelings I sometimes swerve out of control too. I am good with my kid but I need to learn how to deal with my feelings better when I fight with my husband…in the end that affects kids too. Anyway, it’s a huge achievement what you have done!
    .-= Cecilia´s last blog ..Mom + Camera + Cute = Internet? =-.

  4. You’re so brave to share… I think that a lot of people can relate to those emotions. You’re an incredibly loving Mom and an inspiring, supportive friend! It’s a gift for others to know that they are not alone, and that a growing relationship with God is both the miracle and the solution. Hugs!!

  5. That is the power of God. To rebuild you. I know I pray daily for a gentle tongue with all who cross my path. And for an encouraging word to all I encounter.

    Why do I pray for this? Because it’s not my nature to weigh my words, and it’s not my nature to build up. But it is God’s nature that lives within me now, not mine.

    I know what you mean: He saves me from myself daily.

    Beautiful and heartfelt post. And, yes, it is a miracle. And no small one at that.
    .-= Alexandra´s last blog ..Flaming Skulls in the Sky =-.

  6. I think I need to go ahead and pray more. I’m sure my anger builds up..and often it’s not even fair. It’s misdirected, and after a day of dealing with other people’s kids that don’t have manners, I end up getting mad at my kids.

    I need to be a better mom, too.
    .-= Krystyn´s last blog ..Mommy and Me- The 11th Edition =-.

  7. I really feel this post. All of it. Because hanging out with God has taught me a lot about myself, too. Especially how to keep the biting, sarcastic and spiteful person I used be in check. I never realized just who I was until I had kids. Not that they define me, but they make me see who I really am.
    .-= ck´s last blog ..rulers =-.

  8. wow, alex, this post reveals your voice in such a beautiful way. it gives me chills, it is so genuine and intimate. thank you for sharing your wisdom. i have come a long way with rage, too- i hope to come to such a feeling of peace about it as you have. hope you are having a good week! 🙂

  9. I have been blessed with miles-long patience with my little boy, who can exasperate me but still leave me grinning. But in my worst moments I struggle with taking – or not taking? – my anger and frustration out on my husband. I think it’s too easy to do that with the people you know will always love you – and it’s not quite as easy, but definitely possible, to overcome it.
    This post, along with my most stressful, sleepless and trying times, reminds me of Bonnie Raitt’s song The Valley of Pain.
    (“Well, when I’m hurtin I have a dangerous tongue
    I lose it and use it like a gun
    Oh wont you stop me if you see me taking aim…”)
    .-= Leslie´s last blog ..Have toddler, will travel =-.

  10. This is what I love about you. You are honest and funny and brave and real. Thank you for telling the truth because we ALL struggle with something. Whether it is anger or neurosis or anxiety or depression or whatever. No one is perfect. And it is being honest and real and asking for help that is so admirable and powerful. I adore you, Alex! Thank you for being you.

  11. I grew up with a non-abusive father who was in dire need of anger management and now that I’m in similar circumstances -i.e. 3 kids and little money, I see that side of myself, too. Though, most of the time the anger stems from my marriage, the kids do get yelled at for not doing what ever it is they’re supposed to be doing (usually cleaning up the mess they made). I also find it to be hormone related so on those days, I simply don’t push the kids to pick up after themselves. Admittedly, also not the best parenting decision, but it avoids tears which are usually mine.
    .-= Cranky Sarah´s last blog ..Seriously, I have a right to love Mother’s Day =-.

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