the law of 'losing it'

this year has been rough year, for many reasons. some that were totally foreseeable & others, a complete surprise. i'm not sure which i prefer. some things are better when you just don't see them coming.

one of the more predictable challenges this year has presented us with, has been the everyday challenge that 4 little-lings all at bustling stages. our life at the moment is bursting at the seams with potential. the potential for joy & fulfilment as well as the potential for distress & complete chaos.

with such demand for discipline & direction, i must say with the other added obstacles this year has provided, i have not always responded as the most consistent or patient disciplinarian at times. it often happens with the "bulk effect". it's what rachel jankovic calls the combined crazy that only a room full of children together could achieve. like when the twins or little livi where added to the fam, it
wasn't 1+2 or 3+1, the effect was exponential, like 1 to the power of 2 because of all the added dynamics.  like child one can't sit next to child two becasue child one will cause a ruckus. and don't put socks on child three because they'll flush them down the toilet but must leave the bathroom door open with light on or child one will be too scared go on the potty & wet their pants. those kinda dynamics. complicated. i know. and it used to paralyze me until i met rachel jankovic. wise woman she is.

" the 'bulk effect' is what happens when there are a lot of children, and it will happen from time to time. individually, there is nothing to worry about. as a group it feels as though we are careening toward destruction. if you have a bunch of little kids (or even a few), you will need to not only be aware of this fact of life but build up your immunity to it. you will need to see it happening & get the grace for it in advance. you will need to develop some skills for coping with it that do not involve blaming your children." {rachel jankovic, the little years}

anyways, the bulk effect isn't what i had set out to talk about in this post. but i have long used the "bulk effect" without realizing, as my excuse to blow up, boil over... explode! afterall, just how much crying & diapers & spilt milk can one individual handle in any given moment?! it's only fair to allow myself to let some steam off, right? after all i am only human. wrong. i am a mother. which i am learning is one high calling. don't get me wrong. i think we've all been there, done that as far as exploding under the immense pressure of mothering. but when i start feeling entitled to those moments, i'm starting down a slippery slope.

 "the [bulk effect] is not a sin. it is merely the combined effect of a lot of people. and just becasue you can pin down one sin in the batch does not mean that child is responsible for the situation. your children are not a situation. they are individuals. disciplining an individual for a collective situation is a great way to alienate your children...." {rachel jankovic, the little years}

the thing is, once you've allowed yourself to explode at a situation that might merit a reaction of a 10 then you begin to allow or justify the same response at situations that might only merit an 8 or 6 until before you know it, you're reacting at a 10 for a situation that may only really justify a 2 or 3. it's a slippery slope & before you know it you lose it. you lose control of you.

and with multi-fauceted, multi-dimensional clashes of character & drama swirling around one tired mummy, you can bet it's a recipe for disaster. you can get lost in all the conflict & clashing & begin to believe there's no hope. you'll never be the calm, cool, collected mom you've always aspired to be.  it's cyclical. the kids swirling, the anger boiling, & then the inevitable blow up leading to mountains of shame, leaving you feeling powerless to change your hollering ways, leading to blaming the kids which leads to ... you get the picture.
the problem isn't just the sound of my screaming for all to hear but the feeling it creates inside. absolute helplessness. loss of control. anger & contempt... for myself.

"you take that shred of guilt and then harness onto it the stress of the whole situation. you make your child into a scapegoat. a way for you to release all of your tension and stress onto someone who you feel deserved it. he did, after all, disobey. your massive over reaction was just, because disobeying is wrong. so this neat little trick is happening in your head - the consequences for his sin go way up, and the consequences for yours go way down. it simply a classic shifting of the blame. the situation is crazy but you are the person responsible to get the grace to deal with it... [it's like saying] i will vent on you instead of dealing with myself." {rachel jankovic, the little years}

this year has been a challenge. a challenge to own my own stuff. my own emotions & reactions. my own atmosphere. because when it comes right down to it, i'm in charge of me not the rest of the universe. and for me, it is often just an issue of self-control & pushing myself to find the grace to deal with whatever i am facing. it's not that the kids are menacing or i'm a terrible monster. it's just exercising that self-control muscle a little more often than i'm used to.

the bible says "a soft answer turns away wrath". i used to think that meant responding to someone who is angry softly would soften them, which may be true but i think it also means by having the self control to answer softly while angry, diminishes your own wrath.

and so, i am constantly reminding myself to take courage, take heart & take control of me. 


  1. Wow. I totally agree about how justifying a certain reaction becomes a slippery slope and that speaking softly definitely helps keep down my own wrath. (It doesn't take it away completely, but helps prevent it from growing as quickly!) This was a good reminder, as a teacher and a new mom, to remember to reach for grace before reaching higher decibels. I guess the upside to four little ones, apart from the intense cardio, is all this wonderful wisdom. :)

  2. Thank you for the brave post, Sarah. So good.