Poop and Self Awareness are cool. Soap Suds are not.

22 days down, 343 to go!

Dear Orange Rhino Readers,
In honor of Leap Day, I took a day off from blogging. Instead, I thought I would share one of my original posts written before I decided to go “live” and share my thoughts with the world. I am glad I pulled it up – I needed to be reminded of one of my first Orange Rhino Revelations: Self Awareness as to why I yell is Step 1 towards my success.

happy reading (and laughing at how Day 2, Take 2 malfunctioned),
The Orange Rhino

*
February 2, 2012

Day 2, Take 2

Dear Self Awareness,
You are what I need to help get me through this Challenge. If I can just figure out why I yell, what my triggers are, then maybe I’ll be able to stop! So please, come fill my head with lots of deep thoughts and insights and more so, the ability to admit to myself the truth about why I yell.

See you very soon I hope,
The Orange Rhino

*

I should not be writing right now but if I don’t, I’m going to lose it. The baby is sick and had me up all night (again!) so I’m tired. Which means one thing. It is only 6 am and the boys already have the upper hand! My oldest two woke before their “yellow suns” and started playing at 6 – instead of staying in rooms quietly until 630. Now, at first blush you say wow that’s great  – they played together and you got to stay in bed an extra half hour. Yes this is all very true and very much a miracle. But when they are cooped up together for that long – even if willingly – my 5 yr old gets all keyed up and inevitably will start picking on his brother.

Sure enough … ”#2 is a baby butt, #2 is a baby butt #2 is a baby butt.” #2 comes running in bawling. Cue baby to start crying and 2 year old to start banging obnoxiously on his door to come get him all at the same time. Ah the beautiful symphony of noises that fills my home so early in the morning. And now you know why I set my alarm and try to get up before them. So that I can be PREPARED for the onslaught.

So today, instead of yelling I picked up my computer and starting typing the frustration out hoping that it would calm my nerves down and bring me some relief. Anything. Bring me anything just so that I don’t scream!

Enter #1 and #2. “Mommy, Mommy you have to come see #2’s poop! It’s so cool looking.”

And all is well with the world. Poops are cool and now the baby is laughing at himself. Nothing like a good laugh to re-set my stay-cool button.

*

Um yeah, that was an EPIC FAIL. My stay-cool button must have malfunctioned because not 2 minutes later I kissed Day 2, Take 2 of not yelling good-bye! Shortly after pressing “Save” it donned on me that it was TOO Quiet. Rule of Thumb: If you have 4 boys under 5, or maybe just any number of kids, period, if it is TOO quiet, be afraid. Be very very afraid.

I anxiously walked out of my room. Lo and behold…there were SOAP SUDS EVERYWHERE! My oldest two, who were supposed to be brushing their teeth, were actually cleaning the sink and counter with hand soap which we all know, gets nice and sudsy and goes everywhere when you use the whole gosh darn bottle. Lovely. Just lovely.  Before I knew it, I had snapped. Rather loudly. “What the heck happened? Who made this mess? Who’s going to clean it up?” And then came the Roar. “Get in here NOW!!!!!” This was definitely a Level 5 Snap turned Level 6 Yell. #1’s hysterical response amid tears:

“But mommy, we were just doing our morning chores.”

I’ve taught them to wipe down the counter after brushing their teeth and that is exactly what they were doing. Wiping down the counter. Helping ME. How did I show my appreciation? My excitement for them taking initiative? I snapped at them. As #3 would say, “not nice!” As I would say, not cool and totally unnecessary.

ORANGE RHINO REVELATION: I snapped at them for so called “bad behavior” before even stopping to realize that they were JUST TRYING TO BE GOOD, trying to surprise me by pleasing me.

It seems I have a nasty little habit of seeing something the kids are doing that is good in nature but an inconvenience to me and yelling at them for it. This morning it was the soap suds.  At dinner I yelled at #2 for taking the milk out because I was afraid he’d spill it. He of course said “but mommy, I am just trying to help you.” Sigh. Then at bedtime, I snapped at #3 for taking off the baby’s diaper because I was certain he would feel the fresh air and pee everywhere – which of course he did. #3 then cried and said “baby bath.” Sigh. He just wanted his brother to go in the bath with him…..

Forget my “stay-cool” button, where is my STOP button? The one that helps me stop, survey the scene, ask questions and then talk not yell? Can I get one at Staples? Is it next to the Easy button?

This should read "Emergency. STOP. Think before Yelling. Chances are, it's unnecessary." Where can I get one? Can I hardwire it to my brain?!!

No seriously though, if I had just stopped for a mere second in these situations and realized the goodness that was going on, instead of charging, it could have been an awesome moment.

So now I am back to 0. AGAIN. How is it that I went 8 straight days and now I can’t go 36 hours? And let me tell you, those 8 days. They were fantastic. I felt invigorated. I felt empowered. I felt proud. I felt gosh darn good. I need to get back on track ASAP.

Enter my imaginary Orange Rhino friends. Where art thou? I need you! This blog is my place to record my success and struggles and hopefully find the support to change this habit for life. So please non-existent Orange Rhino friends, find me and help me keep my stay-cool button functioning!

www.facebook.com/TheOrangeRhino
www.TheOrangeRhino.com

“Knowing is Half the Battle”

21 days down, 344 to go!

Dear G.I. Joe (Jane),
Aren’t you the one who says “knowing is half the battle?” Well if I feel like half the time I don’t know anything about being a mom does that mean I have half a battle ahead of me for the next 25 plus years or just one hell of a big one? Do I even stand a chance of survival? If not, please come rescue me or at least send me more reinforcements in the form of friends, caffeine, babysitters and hot fudge ice cream sundaes.

Sincerely,

The Orange Rhino

*

Yes, please come rescue me.

Rescue me from the Great Stomach Bug Infestation of 2012 that has my 7 month old, 7 month old!, vomiting every day for 7 days straight. All he wants to do is eat, and every time I feed him, he vomits. The poor thing isn’t old enough to eat Saltines, drink ginger ale, or take any medicine so I basically have nothing I can do to soothe him except hold him and even that isn’t working.  So he just screams most of the day and at night, and well last night, I think he screamed on and off from 1:30 am until 5:00… I lost track of the time. I wish I KNEW what to do to help him.

And please rescue you me from 3+ weeks of my 2 ½ year olds sleeping habits progressively getting worse to the point of a 30 minute nap (instead of 2 hours) and being up 3-4 times a night inconsolable. My sweet #3 used to sleep like a champ: he put himself to sleep and put in some good solid hours for me. Now? It’s an absolute train wreck and it is pushing me to the edge. I don’t know how to help him overcome this whatever the he*l it is. Snuggling him is making matters worse, crying it out isn’t working, etc, etc….I am at my wits end with this one – both the problem and my son – because all I want is one night of uninterrupted sleep! I just wish I KNEW what to do to help him.

So I guess what I am saying G.I.Joe  is…

Rescue me from the horrific feeling of helplessness that comes with being a mom.

Because right now, more than anything, I feel helpless. Truly and utterly helpless.

And all I want to do is scream. Scream scream scream until somehow I KNOW how I can help my kids feel better, how I can stop the madness so that I don’t lose it and yell at them unnecessarily. I hate not knowing what to do. I hate feeling so powerless in my ability to help someone I love so much. It makes me feel frustrated, so clueless,

so insecure in myself as a mom.

And this feeling of helplessness, of not knowing, isn’t unique to this week, to this situation. Every week (or is it day?!)  I feel like there is a new parenting challenge, a new question that I don’t have the answer to. This week it happens to be the stomach bug, next week it will be something different.

Does he or doesn’t he have a Peanut Allergy? Do we get a second opinion? How do we move forward?

Does he or doesn’t he need to have his eyes checked? Or does he just not want to learn the alphabet? Should I be doing something different?

Does he or doesn’t he need to have Occupational Therapy? Is it a problem? Or just a personality quirk?

I just DON’T KNOW.

Sure there are books, and doctors, and friends and family members to ask for advice but at the end of the day it is up to ME. I am the one living in the situation, experiencing it firsthand. I have the most knowledge even if it doesn’t feel like a lot sometimes. I am the one who needs to ultimately figure out what is best for my child and our family.

And all this not knowing and “learning on the job,” well quite frankly, it stresses me out. My head is constantly bombarded with questions about what should I be doing as a parent? Am I parenting right? Am I parenting well enough? How do I handle this situation? The attack on my brain, on my self-confidence in my ability to parent, can leave me feeling so stressed and so helpless (and sometimes hopeless) that I just want to scream half the time.

And as a matter of fact, last night round about 3:48 am, when the baby was crying (again), #1 was crying from a nightmare and #3 was crying because that is what he does now, I did scream. I went into the guest room and screamed “What the F…” louder than intended.  Because the pressure of all three kids needing me at once – and not knowing who to tend to first – was enough to make me explode.

Last night’s rant, even if in private, was too close for comfort. TOOOO close. It is so easy to slip into the rageful screaming mode when the pressure is on. When the kids are crying and you’ve tried everything and can’t stop them. When you are exhausted and know you can’t sleep because you are needed. When the kids are cantankerous and you’re on your own.  Last night, it took all the will power I could find to scream at the guest bed instead of at my kids. And it is a good thing I did…

Because my kids didn’t need to be yelled AT, they just needed ME.

And me, I just needed to yell OUT, to release.

I needed to rescue me, from myself. I needed to stop my rant from starting so that I could pull it together and give my kids what they needed at that moment:  to be held, to be rocked, to be snuggled, to be loved.

I might not know everything about being a mom, and it might feel like a huge uphill battle trying to figure it all out “on the job.” But at least there is one very important thing I do know now: that half the time, it’s my stress, my feeling helpless, and not my kids behavior, that makes me want to yell at them and “knowing (that) is half the battle” to winning this challenge.

The Shortest, Longest Days of my Life

20 days down, 345 to go!

Dear Day 20,
Wow, you sure know how to go out with a bang…and a splash! As if I hadn’t had a long enough day as is, you seemed to find it necessary to have my 2 ½ year old bang against his door incessantly for 20 minutes in protest of bedtime at the same time that my 6 month old “decided” to throw up at least 6 ounces of Nutramigen Formula on me. And when I say on me, I mean at my chest in the exact perfect location so that it could splash up into my mouth (which was ajar in disbelief as to what was happening) while simultaneously gush down into my shirt and then trickle down to rest in my belly button. I generally prefer to celebrate accomplishments, like making it through Day 20, with something bubbly, like champagne, not something that smells like regurgitated cat throw up. When we get to 200 days without yelling can we please celebrate in a little more dignified way? We have 180 days to plan something grand. Let’s get cracking…

Thanks,

The Orange Rhino

*

Wow. What a day, what a night. The day turned out better than I expected. But I had my moments where I thought I would lose it. Oh did I have my moments. Like this one:

Rotten milk anyone?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And this one.

You're kidding me, right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh and this one.

Wow, these go around so much faster when covered in throw-up....

God knows who took the milk out of the fridge and how long it had been sitting there when I found it. And god knows why #3 thinks that my fridge is a jungle gym. And god knows why babies like to have explosive dirty diapers and throw up in the Exersaucer  – taking my third arm out of commission for the day so that I can clean no drain and sanitize it. I had a lot of those moments today. Moments where I just wanted to scream,
“What the ….?!” Lots of these moments added up to a very very long day.

But then there was the moment after my baby threw up where even though we both were dripping in vomit, he looked right at me, oblivious of the smell, and smiled. Or when I finally went into #3’s room after 30 minutes of hysterical cleaning (I had to clean up the nursery rug and shower or I was going to throw up too) and he said “Schnuggle mommy. Mommy schnuggle. Mommy head down. Pillow. Hug me” and then he reached over with his arm to pull me close to him.

Even though I had told myself tonight was the night, that I was done with #3’s new refusal  to put himself to sleep since I know he knows how, when I put him back into bed and his arm reached up, I couldn’t do it. He had me at “schnuggle.” And so I sat there and watched him fall asleep. And even though I told myself I wouldn’t rub his back or play with his hair, I would just sit there with no contact or talking…like my sleep book would tell me…I couldn’t do it. He just looked too sweet.

It’s amazing how at 2 ½ years old he can still look as sweet as the day he was born. It’s amazing how 1 minute earlier I was ready to scream at the top of my lungs “SHUT UP and go to sleep” and let Day 20 slip away. And how now 1 minute later, I don’t want the moment to end. I am really grateful I didn’t yell at this moment – because then not only would I have made #3 more hysterical and thus it would have taken me that much longer to get to my leftover Birthday cake, but also I would have been too worked up to appreciate watching him fall asleep (not to mention he would have fallen asleep feeling hurt and unloved. Certainly not the way I like to fall asleep…..)

I remember clearly saying to my mom when my oldest son was about 3 months that these were the longest, shortest days of my life. And that is what makes them the hardest. It’s not my lack of sleep or the kid’s behavior that makes the days hard, it’s that they are filled with such highs and such lows. The highs make the day short – because there just isn’t enough time in the day to stay in the moment. Like when my baby turns and reaches for me to be held or when #2 says “mommy, I love you for helping me take off all my clothes so I can poop without getting them dirty.” And the lows, like #1 and #2 fighting over legos at 5:40 in the morning, well the lows, can make the day feel like it’s going to eat me alive! Until of course a high comes along, and then all is well with the world of mommyhood.

Being a mom is like riding a horse on a merry go round. One minute I am ready to jump off and make a run for it (to the spa perhaps?!) and the next i just want to stay put and never get off. I never know how to feel, it’s mentally exhausting! Up and down, up and down, up and down. Somedays are filled with so much love and so much anger/frustration at the same time that I’m wiped out by noon!

And not only is being a mom tiring, but it’s infuriating. I want to enjoy each moment (well the good ones) but it is so hard because the bad, or rather challenging moments, suck the life right out of me leaving little left to enjoy the good moment that is coming up any minute on a good day, an hour or two on a bad day. And sometimes I am so zapped from the bad moments that I don’t even realize when a good moment is happening…and then passing…like this morning when I was *busy* being annoyed that #1, #2, and #3 were getting soap and water everywhere while washing their hands. I was too entrenched to realize something awesome was happening right in front of me. They were “washing off germs together”, without being asked to, so they could play with the baby but keep him healthy. Sigh. THANK GOD I was just annoyed at that moment today and didn’t yell at them for being so considerate. Then I really would have felt like an a*s.  Instead I only felt like a partial a*s for being annoyed in the first place. Making progress. Making progress.

www.facebook.com/TheOrangeRhino
www.TheOrangeRhino.com 

All the yelling stopped and…

18 days down, 347 to go!

Dear Tom Cruise,

Here's to you Tom!

This post is dedicated to you Tom Cruise and a friend who helped me get this blog going who is in Labor right now! She sent me an email saying “I’ll be out of touch for a bit, I’m in labor.” I laughed because that is something I would do…did do…send work emails while being in Labor. I wrote back: “No worries. Good luck and remember NO YELLING! LOL” And so Tom, I thought of you and all the hub-bub around how Katie Holmes had to deliver Suri without making noise. I don’t know the details (and this isn’t a religious or political post!) I just remember something about silence and peace. Today, I get that. Not yelling for 18 days has brought peace to my house and to me. But dear friend in labor…in my book, having just been there and done that, now is no time to feel the need to be peaceful. The peace will come when that beautiful boy arrives. Until then, yell away!

Cheers,

The Orange Rhino

*

A Silent Birth. Yeah there was no way in h*ll that I could have delivered my 4th son silently.  You see, the epidural had stopped working (as it always does for me) and I went from 4 cm to #4 in about 20 minutes, if that. Around 2:25 pm I asked the nurse to get the Anesthesiologist because I knew the drugs were wearing off – she came back 5 minutes later to say he was coming and I said, “Don’t bother, the baby is coming NOW!” She didn’t believe me since I had JUST been checked and was barely 4 cm. But she got the doctor anyway. Smart move.

The doctor came in (all smug like, lady, you ain’t delivering it’s not like you’ve done this three times and know your body or anything….) did the exam and then promptly said “Don’t move. The head is there. We’re not ready and he’s coming out on his own.”  See, I told you I was having this baby!!! Not only was he practically delivering himself fast and furiously, but he was coming out at an angle since he was still partially breeched. So it kind of hurt. You know, just a wee little bit. And I was kind of screaming just a wee little bit.

After three pushes, and a heck of a lot of swearing, #4 arrived and he was absolutely perfect. I just held him in my arms, tears of joy and amazement dripping down my face, and fell in love all over again for the 5th time in my life. Holding my son for the first time in my arms is the most overwhelming, powerful feeling ever. Words won’t do it justice. The world stopped for that minute when I looked down and saw this precious being. My son. And all the nausea, sleepless nights, leg cramps, back aches, and labor pains disappeared. And even though this was my 4th delivery, I still felt the power of the miracle that just happened take over my body as strongly as when my first son was born.

I felt his little fingers wrap around mine grasping for security after his abrupt arrival…I felt his head nuzzle up against my chest looking for comfort under the bright lights…I felt his eyes peering at me trying to find reassurance that it will be okay in his new world…and I? I felt at peace. All my yelling had stopped and I was at peace.

All the yelling has stopped and I felt at peace.

That amazingly enough describes what The Orange Rhino Challenge has done for me thus far.

All the yelling has stopped and I feel at peace.

Simply put, not yelling for 18 days has filled me, my home, my boys, with more peace. There is less hostility in everyone’s tones. There is less quarrelling between the boys (but let’s be real, there are still fights but they are shorted lived and fewer of them and the house is still  insanely chaotic and I still want to yell, I’m just not!) There is less anxiety in my mind over whether or not I am a good enough mom because I just feel like a better mom, a nicer mom. Whenever I used to yell, whether it was warranted or not, it just filled me with more frustration, more anger. It never made me feel better. The more I yelled, the more agitated person I became and that trickled down to how my kids perceived me and how they acted towards me and each other.

But now, in not yelling, I feel light. I feel free. I feel corny :)  But it is all true. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from me. There is a new sense of calm about me more often than not…. a feeling that I never knew I could achieve. And it feels fantastic. I don’t want to lose this feeling because not only do I feel like a better mom and a nicer mom, I feel like a happier mom. And that is a feeling I’ve been searching for much longer than I care to admit….

www.facebook.com/TheOrangeRhino
www.TheOrangeRhino.com 

“Precious” Minutes

17 days down,  348 to go!

Dear Mom,

Thanks for helping out with the kids this week during the Great Stomach Bug Infestation of 2012. You have been a huge help. And thanks for just making the most annoying comment ever, it too was a big help as it inspired tonight’s post. You know I love you but sometimes, I would love you more if you kept those precious thoughts to yourself.

xoxo,

Your daughter, a.k.a, The Orange Rhino

*

“You’re boys are just so precious. You must just sit back and love every single minute of being a mom. “

Um, has she not been living here this week with me? Is that just a shell of herself helping me with no eyes and no ears? Has she not witnessed all the fights from being cooped up sick all week? Or am I just a shallow person who is awful for thinking that um, no, I don’t love every single minute of being of mom?  In fact, GASP!, there are sometimes that I outright find motherhood and my “precious boys” so infuriating that I just want to yell AND there are lots of times when I just want to yell at my kids for being “just so precious.”

There I admitted it. Not only am I a Yeller but I don’t always love being a mom. Phew! That feels good to get off my chest even though I know it is not a popular thing to admit… please don’t hate me for my honesty.

Do I love my children? Absolutely. I love them more than I ever knew I could love someone.

Do I think they are precious? Of course I do, they are my boys and they are beyond precious.

Do I just sit back … um no, does any mom have time to just sit back???!

Do I love every single minute of being a mom? No. If I am lucky, maybe 1 day a week I love every single minute of being a mom. If I am fairly lucky, I will go through most of the day feeling that way. But on an average day, it’s 50/50. And on a bad day, well forget about it. 25 love/ 75 want-to-pull-my –hair-out is being generous.

So dear mom, why do you feel the need to say things like you did? So that I can be reminded that no, I don’t feel that way? So that I can feel like a crappy mom and person for feeling that motherhood, this most precious, remarkable journey everyone talks about, sometimes isn’t what it is cracked up to be and it drives me nuts to the point of being a screaming, mean mommy? I mean, what is wrong with me that I don’t love every single minute of being a mom? Was I not meant to be a mom? Am I not entitled to be a mom because I feel this way?

And my mom is not the only one “lovingly” sharing these insights. These people are everywhere! I know their intentions are good, and genuine, and all, but sometimes, I wish they would just keep their thoughts to themselves because they unintentionally make me feel like an inadequate mom for not feeling or acting that way!  The waitress at Friendly’s the other night said to me

“You must just sit home and laugh all day at your boys. They are just so funny.” If only she knew just how “funny” they can be.

Yeah, this morning, for example, they weren’t just their normal funny selves (which yes they actually can be) they were beyond hysterical. I had just completed my 7th night of Musical Beds/Floors and no sleep. I was certain that I was going to kiss Day 17 good bye this morning well before the clock read 8 am as we had not been downstairs 10 minutes when the following set-up occurred:

The infamous Yellow Wagon.

Three kitchen chairs and a wagon. What’s so harmless?

Well, if you must know, darling #3 is currently in a very obsessive-possessive phase. He has three toys that he plays with all day: his toolbox, his tape measure, and of course, his wagon. The older two boys, on any given day, have no interest in these toys. They KNOW to stay away out of fear of the wrath of their younger brother. He is younger, but bigger and can tantrum longer and stronger than the two older ones combined. You simply don’t touch his toys. It ain’t worth the headache that follows or normally, the wrath from mommy that follows used to follow.

But this morning, together, #1 and #2, felt it absolutely necessary, in my fragile state, to take the wagon, which by the way, also held the blessed tape measure, and barricade it in and keep their younger brother from having it.

Well all hell broke loose. #3’s tantrum started at about 7:15am and lasted until 8:15am. Oh yes, he is a tantrumer. I stayed calm – or I was I just delirious and still asleep?

Me:
“#1 and #2 you aren’t even using the wagon, can he have it back, PLEASE”

Them (yelling):
“No. We never get a turn. He doesn’t share.”

Me:
“I know he doesn’t share. It isn’t fair. I’m working on that. But right now, I just can’t handle one of his marathon tantrums. Please give it to him for a few minutes. Please, I’m begging you.”

Them  (yelling):
“No.”

Really, no?  I mean give me a bloody break! Here they have no intentions of using the wagon, they aren’t even looking at it, except of course when their brother tries to touch it, and they have already moved on to a new game. Yet God Forbid they take the wagon out of “jail.” They would rather suffer though the obnoxious wailing sound that is consuming their brother and test me to see if I was going to lose it than share the blessed wagon.

Yeah, I just love every single minute of being a mom. And I just laugh all day. Ha. Ha. Ha.

So what did I do? I took a picture of the absolute absurdity of the moment. It didn’t stop the tantrum, but it did put everything into perspective.  A wagon.  All this yelling was over a wagon. I was going to throw away Day 17 of not yelling over a yellow Fisher-Price wagon.  Just saying that makes me laugh, and at the minute I took the picture, I laughed too.

So maybe the waitress was close to right. Maybe I don’t laugh all day, but maybe I should? Maybe that would keep me from losing it, it certainly did here.  Mental note: laugh more = yell less.

And maybe my mom was close to right. So maybe I don’t love every single minute of being a mom, and that is ok BECAUSE there is normally at least one minute of the day that  I do love being a mom, even on the really really bad days, like today. And I’ll take any and all of the minutes I can get because they are “precious.”

2011 B.C. (Before Challenge)

16 days down, 349 to go!

Dear Diet Coke,

What happened today? You are supposed to pick me-up and get me going no matter how tired I am. You are intentionally the first thing I drink at 7:30 am so that I can perk right up and get ready to handle the craziness that is my life. And today, I really needed you. Really really really needed you. That’s why I had two of you before 9:00 am. Did you not get the memo that last night I didn’t get to bed until 11:30 because of #1 vomiting…in my bed almost on my face? And that I got up off the floor where I was sleeping at 2:30 to clean up the baby’s vomit and then slept in his rocking chair until 4:00am when I went into #3’s room to soothe him and his sore tummy to sleep? I mean really, last night was the Musical Bed/Floor night from h*ll. I so needed you today. You left me high and dry, with nothing in the tank. I was dragging all day today. So bad that I had to lie down at the Pediatrician’s office! Well guess what? Without your help, I survived the day without passing out and better yet, without yelling! Sweet. 16 days down!

Cheers,

The Orange Rhino

*

So, t­he weirdest thing happened to me today. I didn’t yell. I know; that is the whole point of this challenge so that is what I should be doing. Not yelling. But by all means, today I should have yelled. In B.C. (Before Challenge) I certainly would have. Like 3 or 4 or more times. I had nothing, and I mean nothing in the tank today. Whereas my darling kids, their tanks were full.  Full of whining, crankiness, neediness, nagging, “why can’t I’s” and “you’re not fairs”.

Why can’t I have fruit gummies?
(You’ll throw up).

You’re not fair to not let me eat what I want!
(Tough sh*t, I don’t want to clean up anymore vomit).

Mommy, mommy, mommy who gets to choose the next TV show?
(I don’t care, just please lay still on the dark sofa so that if you do throw up, it’s not too badly stained).

I need a hug. No I do. No I do. NO I DO!
(We all do, but I am about to collapse so how but we all just sit on the couch and hold hands and sing Kumbaya).

Yeah, it was a really fantastic day (sarcasm). And don’t worry, I didn’t say any of the things above, just thought them while biting my tongue really, really hard.But, no seriously, it was a really fantastic day.

Because somehow, I didn’t yell. And that’s a miracle. Take today’s events and put them pack 6 months in B.C. and I would have no voice left and my kids well, they wouldn’t have any tears left to cry. You see, I need sleep. Like a good 8-10 hours of sleep. Without sleep, I tend to be a witch. I snap at everything (why can’t you put your shoes on, I’ve seen you do it before!). I have zero tolerance for anything (stop slurping your Pedialyte popsicles!). And I yell at everyone (STOP WHINING!). So given last night’s charades and lack of sleep, I can’t believe I didn’t yell today.

In fact, today it was more natural for me not to yell, than it was to yell.

Instead of yelling I removed myself to a different room and took a deep breath which by the way, although it worked, was a weird-out-of-body experience for me for two reasons. (1) I don’t know how to take deep breaths (couldn’t even do it right delivering 4 babies!) and (2) I am not used to being calm enough to remove myself from a situation before I yell.

And today it was more natural for me to laugh at the situation, instead of yell at the situation.

Let’s take dear, sweet, eyelash batting, #2 for example. It was 4:45 and I was working “hard” to get dinner on the table: you know, bagels and more blah carbs. #2 was missing. I couldn’t find him anywhere. So I looked in the dining room and this is what I found:

 

It's 4:45pm, do you know where your son is?

Can you figure that out? It is #2, hiding under the Dining Room table eating an English muffin that he had snuck out of the kitchen.

B.C. reponse:

“WHAT the heck are you doing? It’s almost dinner. Now you won’t eat your dinner. Can’t you wait 5 minutes?!” This would have definitely been in Level 6, not even Level 5. And let’s get real. The kid is getting over the stomach bug so this would have been totally unnecessary shaming.  Not cool.

The Orange Rhino response:
#2, what exactly are you doing? His response? “Eating. And Hiding.”

Laughing, I get the camera to capture the moment because this is EXACTLY something I would have done, no did do as a kid.

If it weren’t for this challenge, and this new person I’m becoming, I would not have enjoyed that moment. I would have lost it, literally and figuratively. And it was a moment worth cherishing because it was pretty funny to see myself as a child, in my own child. It was very cool.

I am so grateful I didn’t lose it today….

www.facebook.com/TheOrangeRhino
www.TheOrangeRhino.com 

The Orange Rhino Roundup…Your turn to take the Challenge!

15 days down, 350 to go!

Dear Orange Rhinos!

Right now, my hands are sweating and my heart is pounding because I am totally humbled and excited and overwhelmed and scared all at the same time about how “The Orange Rhino Challenge” has started to take off. I am so touched that people I know, and don’t know, have decided to support me in my promise to my boys to not yell at them for 365 days. And more so, I am thrilled to see that other people are taking the challenge on themselves. Everyone says it takes a village to raise a child. Well, I say it takes a village and a bunch of Orange Rhinos.

So welcome fellow Orange Rhinos, let the stampede begin! (Is that what Rhinos do?!)

Cheers (or should I snort?!)

The Orange Rhino

*

Tonight’s post is short and technical as this Orange Rhino is pretty certain the stomach bug is headed to her stomach in a couple of hours. Sigh. Let’s hope not!

But, I wanted to make sure to get this post up as I have seen a lot of interest in Joining Me in the challenge and questions about how to do so. So I introduce to you…drum roll please…

The Orange Rhino Roundup:  The time to toot your Rhino Horn about your progress.

Here’s how it works. Every NIGHT (this is a change!) I will post on the www.facebook.com/TheOrangeRhino the following…

“The Orange Rhino Roundup: Toot your Rhino Horn!”

Under that post, please post in the COMMENTS section your name and the days you’ve completed on “The Orange Rhino Challenge”, ie,

 “Elaine: 15 days down, 350 to go” or “Elaine: Day 1, Take 9” or “Elaine: Day 4, Take 3”

The way I see it, you deserve to Toot your Rhino Horn just by participating.

So whether you’ve complete 15 days or are starting Day 1 over again (for the 9th time, like me in the Beginning), you deserve to post your name for everyone to see that you are trying to be an Orange Rhino. That you are trying to be a mom (or dad) who has the energy and determination to forge ahead and parent with more composure and warmth and without yelling!

Remember, each day is a new day…if you have a bad day, like I did on Day 1 Take 7 (read this post to realize it hasn’t always been a success for me!), don’t beat yourself up like I did! Just keep coming back to this page for the support. I’m getting the sense that you’ll, WE’LL, find it!

P.S. For more ways to do “The Orange Rhino Challenge” with me, check out this page, Join Me.

www.facebook.com/TheOrangeRhino

It’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to…

14 days down, 351 days to go!

I think I'll add... "Because The Orange Rhino doesn't want to yell!"

Dear February 21st,

Every year I look forward to you less and less. I know, that is awful to say because birthdays are so important to me; I live for them! When I was a kid, my mom always made February 21st feel like a national holiday in honor of me. She made me feel so special, so loved, so important. It was great having a day just FOR ME. And I loved it. But you see now that I am a mom, even though the day theoretically is about me, it’s not. It’s about these 4 kiddos I brought into this world and their needs. And while I love them dearly, I miss the guarantee that 1 day a year was completely (mostly) about me and that I had more control over how the day went, how I wanted to spend it. And while I have some input over how I want to spend my birthday, as a mom, I certainly don’t have control over how the day goes!!!  Just wanted to let you know that I miss how you used to be, I guess. But do please keep coming every year for lots of years to come!!!

Cheers,

The Orange Rhino

*

Birthdays are just DIFFERENT when you are a parent. Yes I know. I am supposed to see the joy in my sons’ eyes lighting up seeing my birthday cake and feel that joy seep into my body. Then I am supposed to tingle all over with happiness and say wow, it’s great to be a mom I am so lucky. But I’m sorry, without fail just about every birthday that tingly feeling is less now that I am a mom.  I mean yes, I get that feeling in very small doses throughout the day, like when my boys sing Happy Birthday or give me big hugs when prompted or give me handmade cards daddy helped them to make. Those moments are great. That’s not the problem.

It’s my expectations that are the problem! My mom set the bar too high! I want a perfect birthday – the one day a year where I can just relax and feel okay doing that. Where I can indulge in me and that is okay. And it is just really gosh darn hard to do that as a mom because there is always someone needing something.  I still dream of the 1 perfect day a year – where the kids will sleep in, behave beautifully, play together flawlessly and shower me with love all day.  And I dream that day will happen on my birthday as the perfect gift to me.  In that dream of course the boys are dressed in perfectly clean outfits and they run and jump into bed to wake me up at noon and we all share a big bear hug and Daddy takes a picture and SNAP! My perfect birthday memory is caught. Just like Hallmark birthday cards tell me it should be. The only snapping going on my birthday today is SNAP! Wake up from your dream!

Today, as a birthday present, #2 got the stomach bug and my husband was traveling. So instead of waking to a husband telling me happy birthday and reminding the kids to tell me it was my birthday, I woke up at 430 with two sick kids in my bed. None of my four boys realized it was my birthday until we went downstairs to find the cupcake with a candle in it daddy left out (smart move hubby!) or the birthday cards from friends I had left out (good job friends!) I tried to see if the boys wanted to sing Happy Birthday to me (they too love birthdays!) but of course #1 started throwing up again, #2 was curled up in a ball, #3 was crying for milk and #4 was whining for his bottle or because his 1st tooth is coming in. Who knew.

All I knew is that I felt very lonely at that very moment. I just wanted to start my day feeling special and loved. And while I know my kids feel that, at their tender ages of 5 and under, it’s hard for them to know that Birthdays are a great day to show it.

So I cleaned up the vomit, wiped off my tears, blew out my candle, and went on with my day as a mommy, not the Birthday Girl.

Luckily there are good friends and facebook! Girlfriends to the rescue – flowers and birthday cake arrived, cards arrived, phone calls poured in, and facebook messages posted. Not feeling so lonely anymore. Everyone was wishing me what I was wishing for too…some moments to myself, to be spoiled by my boys. At least I knew I wasn’t totally off and alone in my expectations :)  Phew. Birthday meltdown averted. Momentarily.

Since realizing it was my birthday, the boys wanted cake and juice boxes, you know like all birthday parties. I didn’t want them to have cake and throw it up but they were insistent. ALL DAY. Starting at 7:25 am. It wasn’t stopping. Finally I decided they could sing happy birthday to me, help me blow out the candles, and have a juice box and a small small small piece of cake. Well it turns out my small wasn’t big enough. Shocker.

“I want more!”

“I’m a big boy, I want a big piece of cake”

“I feel a thousand times better”

It was out of control. It was a no win situation. If I didn’t give them cake, tears. If I game them too much, vomit. Neither of these things were on my birthday wish list….

The tears started again. This time, they were mine. All I wanted was a peaceful, loving rendition of Happy Birthday. I wanted my Hallmark Birthday moment where for a moment, just a moment, life IS perfect.  Well, that, and I too wanted to share the cake with my boys because while I say it is all about me, they are part of me now. And I wanted to share my happiness with them. I hated that I couldn’t.

The tantruming was growing louder and stronger. I was going to snap. I think the tears had a hold of me and instead of snapping I said calmly (or sadly?)

“I don’t want to yell. Please don’t make me yell. It’s my Birthday. I don’t want to yell.”

And guess what? I didn’t yell. Just saying those words “I don’t want to yell” out loud kept me in line.

We, my boys and I, got through the great stomach bug-birthday cake debacle of 2012 without anymore tears. And while my birthday isn’t the same anymore, and is generally guaranteed to be louder and more demanding than years past, and it is never all about me anymore, I guess that’s okay. It’s okay because my love for birthdays has simply been passed on to 4 other days of year besides February 21st. it’s been passed on to the days my sons were born.  Now I put the same energy my mom put into my birthday, into theirs, so that they know just how much special they are and certainly how loved.

It’s my birthday and I might still cry if I want to…but at least it’s not because I yelled 😉

P.S. To all of my 52 followers, thanks for supporting me and my new Challenge. Secret birthday wish (besides the peace and quiet) was to get 50 FB likes. A wish come true. Thank you!

www.facebook.com/TheOrangeRhino

Oooga-Schmoooga-Booga!

13 days down, 352 to go!

Dear Productivity,

You and I had big plans today. Huge. Gigantic. Enormous. I had phone calls to make, closets to organize, piles to put away and to boot, a babysitter so I could do said things. You know the three things that have been on my list for weeks that are starting to eat away at me?  And what happened? I spent all day cleaning up vomit from #1 and cleaning diapers full of poop from #3. You might call that productive. And I guess it was. Just not the kind of productivity I envisioned. Sometimes I get in such a twit when we don’t hang out in the way I hope, when I instead hang out with your other half, unproductive. It stresses me out and that’s when I yell. Because I am not getting done what I want…Any tips on how to be more productive, or better yet, more chill? I think if I knew the answer I’d be a more enjoyable person to be around!

Thanks,

The Orange Rhino

*

You see, my challenge in being a Stay at Home Mom is that in my 5.5 years as a SAHM, my to-do list still doesn’t line up with that of a SAHM. I want to get organized, put together photo albums, do other personal projects, and decorate the barren walls of my office, aka my home, so it doesn’t feel like an institution. I don’t have clean up vomit, wash sheets, or buy new pillows because of said vomit on my to-do-list. And I certainly don’t have call doctor to discuss the color of #3’s poop because it seems awfully pale in color. Or on an ordinary day, I don’t have play with kids, have fun, cook them a balanced meal, love them etc…. on my to-do list, which really, all should be on my list for after all, that’s why I decided to stay at home.

And yet, here I am, 5.5 years later still mostly focused on my personal list, not my SAHM list and guess what…my list never gets the attention I wish it did. And that is probably how it should be, to a certain extent. I’ll save that soul-searching and SAHM struggle for another post! But every once in a while, like on days like today where I don’t even get to go pee or do one thing for myself, it gets to me. Who am I kidding, at least once a day it gets to me.

Being a parent is 24-7. It’s a lot of work. And on days like today, where it is ALL about the kids, non-stop, and there is no way to take a breather, it’s extra work. I’m not complaining. I do love my kids, especially when they are sick because they are so extra needing of my love and they don’t fight with me or yell at me, they just need me. Just like when they were little babies. And I love how they curl up in my lap and let me play with their hair…even if they smell like vomit and my hands are so dry from all the washing and hand sanitizer that twirling their hair actually feels uncomfortable.

But sometimes, like roundabout 3:49 today, I just want to fall in a heap on the floor and cry. Cry because I have so much to do (as an individual, a friend, a wife and as a SAHM) and I am pulled in so many different directions that I just want to scream “ENOUGH!!!  I need a break! I just need 5 minutes uninterrupted to breathe.” Well I felt that way all day today. It was NON-STOP. Of course the last time I was in this place, I screamed. I didn’t today thanks to that epiphany so that’s progress but still…

I am Wiped. Which is clearly a theme today.  I spent all day wiping asses off and wiping up vomit. And while I resolved yesterday to take care of myself and get the sleep I need, there is a problem with that. When my to-do list grows, and the clutter on my desk grows, I am left feeling claustrophobic and overwhelmed. And then eventually left feeling like today….like I just want to scream. And more often than not, that is when I lose it with the kids, for no real good reason. It’s not that I want to scream at them, I just want to scream. To let it all out.  Unfortunately, in the past, they have been the target, been caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The Orange Rhino Community shared some great ideas on what to do in said situations…

  1. Call your own voicemail and scream/b*itch (this has double points because when I replay it I can very quickly realize how irrational I am being!)
  2. Go to the Garage and scream…or anywhere else where the kids won’t feel targeted
  3. Let The Orange Rhino Community know instead (I like this one too!)
  4. Get to the computer FAST and type…it’s a release! 

Here’s one that I actually did because the advice from my other fellow Orange Rhinos wasn’t in yet…

  • Do what that silly commercial on SPROUT says to do…when you are about to lose it, turn it into something silly.

#2 was the witness of said silliness.

Dear, sweet #2, my 3.5 year old, had a bee in his bonnet today. Or whatever heck the saying is. He is so overtired from dropping his nap, waking up at 530 regularly but 430, yes 430 today, that he was bouncing off the walls. Holy bejebers. Spelling?

So here I am making #1’s bed. I have just paid the carpet cleaner to miraculously remove the neon Kraft macaroni and cheese stain from the oh, 6 month old brand new carpet. You know, the one where I thought I would save money and buy the one without the 3 year any stain warrantee because my kids NEVER throw up? Yeah, that carpet.

I hear #2 LITERALLY running into his walls and bouncing off, laughing. He was wasted tired. Ever seen a 3.5 year old on speed? No, I haven’t either. But I think I witnessed it today. Holy Sh*T!

I went into his room.

Me:        #2, what are you doing?

#2:          Just making a mess.

Me:        Clearly, you’ve destroyed your room. (He had pulled all his sheets off, dumped every lego bin, and put all his books on the floor. Awesome times.). Well, time to clean up.

#2:          I don’t know how.

Me:        Clearly you do, you just made the mess, just do the opposite.

#2:          Oh, no, I didn’t make it a mess. I was just having Fun.

Isn’t that the case not half the time, but most of the time I yell at the kids? They are just having fun. Just being kids. Yes, making a mess of his room. So not cool especially when I had been cleaning up ALL DAY LONG. But in his eyes, as he is still learning, he was just having fun. Totally harmless. So as I went to yell at him for “having fun” … voice was in Level 3 but fastly approaching 6…I looked at him, saw that damn twinkle in his eye and went “ooga-schmoooga-booga” three times and let it go.

Totally sounded like a moron, and I think #2 shared that sentiment, but it stopped me from yelling at him for being a kid something I’ve done way to much in my Pre-Orange Rhino days.

So today, I give thanks to Sprout (and the twinkle in #2’s eye) for helping me let my kid, be a kid. But I also have The Orange Rhino Community to thank. We are small in numbers now, but the support is huge. Gigantic. Enormous. And while I might not have been productive in the way I dreamed of today, you are all productive in the way I dreamed of. Thank you.

www.facebook.com/TheOrangeRhino 

Free Hugs and Kisses

12 days down, 353 to go!

Dear Midnight,

While it was all fun and games hanging out with you these last four nights so that I could “launch” my blog about Not Yelling, it came very close to being counterproductive. Whenever I hang with you, I am WIPED out the next day, the day after and the day after that. And when I am WIPED, I am so much more inclined to yell. And today was no different, actually it was worse. Because last night you introduced me to your friend 1 am and his friend tequila. I certainly haven’t flirted with them in over 15 years. Why I thought it necessary to do so to celebrate my birthday…when I never really drink…and when now I have 4 kids who get up at 6am is beyond me! But alas, I did.

And guess what, against all odds, I made it through today…with a raging headache, 20 hours of sleep collectively over the last four nights, and 4 cranky over-tired-because-of-baby-sitter-last-night children all WITHOUT yelling. I’m still in shock. But don’t get any ideas, just because today went well doesn’t mean we’ll be hanging out anytime soon. If I want to do well on this challenge, I need my sleep.  Speaking of, it’s 8:11.

Good night,

The Orange Rhino

*

Seriously, I’m in shock. Shock, shock, shock. I truly am a yeller. And yet here I am, having gone 12 days without yelling. I just can’t believe it. I truly didn’t think I had it in me. I kind of just assumed I was a Yeller, that it was ingrained in me, a behavior that I couldn’t change. But I am ecstatic to be wrong…this little chat from today is why:

Me:        “#1 (5 years old), so how is mommy doing now with the no yelling thing?”

#1:          “Great. You’re doing great mommy.”

Me:        “Who do you like more, Mommy or Mommy Orange Rhino?”

#1:          “Mommy Orange Rhino. She’s not mean. She doesn’t hurt my feelings and say not nice things.”

Me:        “Oh. Anything else?”

#1:          “Yeah. Mommy Orange Rhino is the bestest.”

He then gave me a huge hug and a kiss. I kid you not.

Wow.

Just thinking about that conversation again blows me away. I don’t know what has me more in shock – the unsolicited hug or the 12 days of not yelling. You see, my son is not one to offer up free hugs and kisses (he just doesn’t like all the physical contact). So for him to suddenly be giving me random hugs and kisses? Well, let’s just say that it made me cry then and its making me cry now.  That’s a pretty damn good sign that this silly project of mine is very well worth my effort. He is totally worth my effort. I’ve lost a lot of sleep and dropped the ball on a lot these last few weeks so I could get this Blog going. But guess what? A random hug from my son telling me I’m the bestest? Totally worth every lost hour of sleep.

Some change is happening in this household, something good.  I’m going to embrace it and keep finding all the strength I have to not yell. Even if it means sometimes (like tonight!) ignoring the dishes, the piles that need picking up, the bills that need paying, and everything else on my to-do list just so that I can go to bed early and get the rest I need to succeed in this challenge. But if I don’t get the sleep I need, because that is how life goes sometimes, at least now I know that even if I am exhausted, I CAN control my voice. I CAN not yell. It’s my choice.

After #1 told me I was the Bestest he disappeared. The house was too quiet. He came back find me and told me he had brushed his teeth. Oh? In the middle of the day? Without being asked? I didn’t say anything, I just waited.Then he looked up, looked me in the eyes and said:

“Mommy, I had 4 of daddy’s valentines chocolates you gave him. And I didn’t ask. But I did brush my teeth. And they were really good. Are you mad?”

Was I mad? Yeah, a little. Eating that many chocolates is generally not good for my son’s ability to stay calm :) but how could I be mad since he told me and was so honest? And for the record, he was very hesitant to tell me. No problem telling me he brushed his teeth, but clearly very worried to tell me about the chocolates. It’s like he expected me to yell at him. Sigh. Can I really blame him?

BEFORE, I would have yelled at him and lectured him on not asking for permission and sugar isn’t good for you and blah, blah, blah. And he wouldn’t have heard a word I said. This time, when I talked to him about it, he actually listened.

Again, the theme of the day. Shock. I’m absolutely shocked.

And so, I’m still choosing to not yell. I’ll take hugs and kisses and honesty over yelling any day of the week.