I follow few bloggers at this point, but the few are mighty in their POVs. One struck a cord with me recently and it’s this post:
She mentions another blogger who has a No Yelling challenge
The Orange Rhino Challenge
Ultimately it’s about stopping the cycle of yelling by shutting your own pie hole. This has been an ongoing issue with my husband and I. Not that we have a problem yelling at each other – this was something I actually had to learn to do and perfect in our relationship – but the yelling at/around/to the kids always felt out of control and more than we intended. Ironically the sensory sensitive child has always brought out the end-of-my-rope shouter in both of us.
I came from a very loud home. My parents had yelling matches, and my father was a large man with a voice to match. It always made me sensitive to shouting or loud situations. My brothers have decibels and pitch to match our father and when we are all together, things get quite vociferous. I never wanted to be that shouting loud mad-faced mommy, but here I am. It happened despite my best intentions.
So after reading the blog about someone else accepting this challenge and succeeding, I let it marinate. Could I do it? Was this an attainable goal? I woke up three days ago with a gnarly headache. The kind that make me thank little baby Jesus that I don’t have a day job to get showered and dressed and drive to. I thanked my stars I , instead, have the type of job where I can turn on a TV in another room and my children are of an age where they would be sucked in and, yes, babysat for at least 60 minutes while I lay down on the couch with a blanket over my head and let the Ibuprofen have a chance at doing their job.
My son is now 7 and change, and my daughter is 3+. My son was home from school for the holiday and it was going to be a day of challenges for me. The last day of a 5 day ‘mid winter break’. No support troops to call in for help. No playdates pre-arranged. .. and a headache.
Out of necessity, I managed not to shout that morning. I couldn’t do it, physically. In their defense, the kids were miraculously getting along famously despite the above mentioned facts. (see FIVE DAY BREAK FROM SCHOOL) So my challenge began with a boost. Divine intervention prevented me the ability to yell, and I was able to ride on those coat tails for the rest of the day. Once the headache was gone, I didn’t want to ruin my streak of not shouting or yelling.
Come dinner time, things get challenging with wild animals running about the house and anywhere except towards the dinner table.
Normally I’d shout something at this point to cause the madness to scare itself to a stand still so I could get a word out of my own mouth, “DINNER!!!”
But I didn’t. I aimed my focus at all the things that needed to get to the table in order for us to start as soon as we all sat down to eat. Once I redirected my energy and took a few deep breaths, I didn’t even need to raise my voice. They came. My daughter, who is famous for screeching her distaste and lack of enthusiasm at whatever is laid out on the table, even planted her butt to her chair and grabbed a fork.
I had to pinch myself under the table to make sure all was happening in my consciousness.
It wasn’t a hearty and raved over meal, but they ate. Both of ’em. We had some coercing and some bartering for bites, but no shouting.
Hoo Ma !
Next up was bedtime. This would be the test. This would be the tell if this goal was attainable. I was going solo as hubby was still at work. A fact that will be our reality for a while yet as he was promoted in a sense and will have much more responsibility resulting in late work nights. (but still in the same state, so i’m not complaining!)
I did it. I managed both teeth brushing, potty time, pajama time, under covers and stories. … without yelling once ! … at either kid !!
I felt amazing! And better yet, their attitudes were fantastic. My son was NOT excited about returning to school the next day, so bedtime was a challenge…. but nothing that couldn’t be handled with a deep breath, pulling up my big girl momma panties, and an open heart and ear.
I get so wrapped up in the ‘job’ of motherhood and the details of clean plates, cooked food, clean-ish clothes, fed animals, put away toys, brushed hair, that I realized it slips by that I don’t get to punch out for being mom to the kids. I let myself get unapologetic for my selfish wants. Computer time for me. TV time for me. Pee time for me, that it blinded me to what was more important…. i’m still a mom at all of those times. If it’s too hard to be the ‘fun mom’ because the kids have a tough time transitioning to business time (PJs and teeth brushing) then I have to change my hat. I have to be the Leave It To Beaver Mom and wear that hat/mask/apron, whatever it takes to get through it positively without shouting or tears from either side.
I don’t know if that completely makes sense to anyone outside of my own head trying to fathom this thought. … i’ll try to explain it better as I go along.
Things to take into consideration when agreeing with myself to attempt this lofty goal:
My son is of an age where it’s possible. This sounds awful, and honestly I wish I could have erased some of the drama when he was younger, but I can’t go back and change anything. I can simply start now. He understands more. He is more easily reasoned with and the most important, he’s been getting occupational therapy for the last year to help with his issues that often times caused the yelling in the first place.
We are stable…. FINALLY!
I have had a survivalist mentality to our home situation for so long, it took me a minute to realize we are settled somewhere. We have the stability to plan now. I know in one year, we will still be in this house, and I know where the kids will be in school. This is the first time in five years that we’ve had that. Five years is a long long LONG time to not have stability. From my son’s point of view, it’s even longer. For a majority of his life, things were unknown. What state we would be in, what house we would be in, what friends we would have, what school he would go to. All unclear . This has a tremendous impact on everything for a family. Moods, attitude, commitment, traditions, expectations, the list goes on and on and on. Without these things, you have no confidence or sense of security. From that stems a host of issues for a grown-ass person, let alone a little rug rat.
I am part of a team
I can rely on my husband, to an extent, to reign me in, or to play bad cop if necessary. My mom lives with us as well, and that cuts down on untold amounts of stress as well. It gives the kids another outlet for imagination and play and energy to boot. I try not to complain overly much about lack of freedom because of this. This is also a huge factor in getting our family back on track.
So all of the above had to happen, I feel, in order for everything to settle a bit in our home and allow for some focus to aim toward holding myself accountable for the yelling/stress/negative energy that we’ve had for a seemingly endless amount of time.
As a result, I have felt so much better all around. I feel lighter. I feel more confident, and I feel capable.
I’m only three days in, people. I haven’t done anything monumental…. yet. One month and I will feel unstoppable. At least now I know I have it in me. I have given my children some credit .. some space… some room. They have to adjust to my own shifting and tweaking to find what works best. I am confident I will have days where I wonder what I was thinking and my first reaction to something will be to yell or shout. I might even be weak that day and do it… but i’m only human. This honeymoon phase will surely end and there will be terrible bad days. But i’m not focusing on that.
My mini epiphany was this; I have always admired and wondered at the serene moms I see out and about. I see friends on facebook that I know personally and imagine a calm and cool home. A place that was a fantasy in my head. Something I could never make happen in my own life. I pictured their faces when their children would disappoint them, or when the siblings would fight. The women never cracked. And it dawned on me… “Fake it ’til you make it.”
It’s not because they were (all) high on Xanax or three sheets to the wind. They just found their own happy place and turned into Mom Bot until control could be re-established. I’m all about authenticity, but this Mom gig is at times a Job.
You don’t go to the office and throw your keyboard across a room just because the meeting wasn’t going your way. You didn’t slam that co-workers head into the coffee machine because they continue to whine at you about how they have it harder. You do what you have to do to get through that moment, and then you move on.
I had been in survival mode of just getting to bedtime, that I forgot this very important part of my job. At times, the apron has to be put on, tied tight, and the pearls securely fastened because a moment will call for a Mom Bot. Not for the entire day, but for ten minutes. Twenty minutes. Through the teeth brushing and pajamas. Whatever it is that sends your kids to their worst moments. Get through that as a professional mom, and then take the masks off and enjoy the story time or the hide and seek or playing catch because that’s the reward… and if we deserve nothing else for this job, it’s those moments of reward.