I thought I was the perfect parent … until I had children.
For me, parenthood has been a refiner’s fire. My weaknesses seem to come out as I become stressed, sleep deprived, worried, or upset. Of course, parenthood’s blessings make up for those moments, but I have found that I have a temper. It’s humiliating to admit, but I used to yell or throw things to get my children’s attention.
I would resolve time and again not to lose my temper, but I would still lose it in times of stress. Heavenly Father knew I needed something dramatic to help me.
One evening after a long day of bottling peaches, I put on the last batch and decided to take a short nap. I was sure I would wake up in time to take the bottles from the steamer.
My husband, Quinn, and I were startled awake by the sound of exploding jars. I ran to the kitchen and saw shattered glass and gluey peaches over every surface of the room. Apparently, the steamer water had evaporated, heat and pressure had built up, the top of the steamer had blown off, and six of seven peach jars had exploded.
“I think I’ll clean this up in the morning,” I said.
By morning the hot peach muck had solidified into hardened, glass-filled mounds all over the kitchen and dining room. The plastered peach-glass tidbits had even found their way behind countertop appliances and into every nook and cranny, including behind the fridge.
Cleanup took several hours. I had to soak the glass-filled mounds with wet paper towels and then try to wipe them up without cutting myself.
As I cleaned, a familiar voice whispered to me: “Mary, when your temper explodes, as did these jars, you cannot easily fix things. You cannot see where and how your anger hurts your children and others. Like this mess, that hurt hardens quickly and is painful.”
Suddenly, the cleanup took on new meaning. The lesson was a powerful one. Like my anger, there was no quick cleanup. Weeks later I was still finding little clumps of peach rock embedded with glass.
I pray that someday my patience will become as great a strength as it was a weakness. Meanwhile, I am grateful that the Lord’s Atonement is helping me better control my temper so that I can spare my loved ones any more messes caused by exploding anger.