69 days down, 296 to go!
Dear Orange Rhinos,
I am on a “Staycation” this week and have two great guest blogs for you to read. When I first looked for volunteers, Darlene from MommyBabySpot, immediately offered up. Given her enthusiasm for the challenge and her honesty, I really looked forward to her post and was not disappointed.
The Orange Rhino
About a month ago, I discovered a shocking fact: I have a yelling problem. This isn’t something I’ve had all my life, rather the opposite actually. I’ve always been the first one to attempt to remain calm and talk through a difficult situation. But, my soon-to-be 3 year-old son combined with my 5 month old son and a rather stressful life has served to undermine my calm collectedness. It had been brewing and getting worse for about 7 or 8 months and finally reached a head.
My name is Darlene and I am a yell-oholic.
My oldest, Avery, has been the one who has witnessed this transformation of his chill Mommy. So what happened? It’s not just that I have a toddler and a baby, but there’s much more to it. I feel I need to give a brief overview of the past 12 months or so of my life so you can see why I’ve snapped (this is by no means a “look how awesome I am” list, just a bit of background):
- I am a 28 year-old single mom and a stay-at-home mom (I don’t get many breaks)
- I moved a pregnant me and toddler back into my parents’ basement (still living there) after fleeing a bad relationship
- I gave birth in November to Ranger
- I finished my BA in December (I wore Ranger the last 3 weeks of classes) – it took me 10 years to finish but I did it! *pats self on back*
- I am working towards my ICEA childbirth educator certification as well as my breastfeeding counselor certification
- I am trying to start a childbirth education business, blog and youtube channel
- I try to help as much as I can with my developmentally disabled brother
- I feel huge amounts of guilt for not giving Avery and Ranger the attention they need and deserve as I try to get back on my feet and start this business
So, as you may have surmised from the above list, I’ve been a little stressed lately. Poor Avery has been adjusting to all of the things I’m trying to accomplish, a baby brother and trying his best to be a happy 2 year-old and in the process severely pushing my buttons. It wasn’t his fault I didn’t have time to focus on him like I used to. It wasn’t his fault that he has the energy of a two-year-old and is trying any way possible to get Mom’s attention. Yelling was not helping!
I realized one day, while trying desperately to put Ranger down for a nap and shut Avery up, that I was turning into one of those mothers I never wanted to be. Avery was screaming back at me, I was furiously telling him to just be quiet, the baby was crying because Mom was suddenly a banshee…and then I just stopped. I put the baby down, walked over to Avery and gave him a big hug and told him how very sorry I was and that I would try hard to get back to being a good Mommy and showing him how much I love him.
He must have understood because he got quiet and we both just hugged for a minute.
I had no idea how I was going to pull that promise off, but I knew I had to. I want both of my sons to be happy and I realized I was making everyone miserable (including my parents). I didn’t want Ranger to see me as this yelling woman carrying him around and I didn’t want Avery to fear me.
I hated seeing that fear and dread in his eyes along with that need for my love and attention.
Soon after this incident, I was working on my blog (or maybe Facebook page) and came across The Orange Rhino. I read her posts, read what she was about and breathed a sigh of relief. I wasn’t alone! There were other moms struggling with the same thing I was and wanting to stop. I signed up immediately. I’ve taken on the entire 365 day challenge.
It’s been HARD!
I haven’t been yelling that long but it’s still not an easy habit to break. Yelling stopped everyone in their tracks and got things accomplished…sorta. It also broke down my boys and destroyed our relationship.
I am currently at 5 days with no yelling and I feel great. It’s taken me about 2 weeks or so to get here, but I haven’t yelled since Good Friday and this is the longest I’ve been able to go. I have noticed that when I have yelled recently, it’s become something that is over quickly instead of the tirades I used to go on. I’ll yell one word just to get Avery’s attention, but I’ve even stopped doing that lately.
I’m already noticing a change in my relationship with Avery. I’m more loving towards him (I had gotten to the point of not enjoying our time together) and he’s more responsive and happier. Ranger seems happier too, more laid back and not as quick to have a total melt down. I feel better about my parenting and like I’m more in control of the situations. I’ve even gotten back into setting aside time twice a day to totally focus on Avery and do some sort of activity with him as well as giving him quiet him-and-mommy reading time before bed.
Yelling has been replaced with the question: “Is what you are doing a good idea?” Maybe Avery’s a bit young to really ‘get’ that question, but it makes him stop and I help him decide that he needs to stop and redirect his energy. I’ve also started telling him to look at me when I’m explaining something or asking him to stop his unacceptable behavior. This helps me feel like he’s listening and I can also read him better and adjust my message to suit his understanding and mood.
But, I have to admit…I haven’t only stopped yelling. Avery’s behavior had become alarming to me. So, along with not yelling I’ve also cracked down on Avery’s food and mine. I have cut out junk food and as much processed food as possible. So, no yelling and a healthy diet have already changed my relationship with my boys and the harmony of our little family.
Thanks Orange Rhino for the community and support to help me stop yelling and repair my family.
You’re most welcome! Thank you for your honesty and sharing with us. One of my favorite parts (besides the obvious how strong you are for leaving a bad relationship, how determined you were to get your BA, how courageous you are for wanting to change amidst such stress), was how you phrased what yelling and not yelling have done to your family. You wrote:
“…Yelling broke down my boys and destroyed our relationship.” Wow. Such a powerful statement, one that I think many of us can relate to, even if we don’t want to admit it.
You also wrote how in not yelling for just 5 days you’re more loving and your sons are happier. Wow. Another powerful statement, one that I think we all dream of. Being more loving and having happier children.
This no yelling thing is kind of cool, right?