Are you … kidding me?!

247 days without yelling, 118 days of loving more to go!

Dear Self,

Sometimes, you just have to go with it. Laugh and remember that you too once were a little sh*t ESPECIALLY at times when your mom was losing it and yet she still loved you. In fact, you continue to be a little sh*t and your mom still loves you. So give your son a break.

Sincerely,
The Orange Rhino

*

It was 7:57 sometimes last week, exactly 23 minutes before I had to head out of the house with my darling, beloved Kindergartner  It had been a peaceful morning thus far. No tears. No punches. No “mommy he did this!!!”  No complaints about breakfast. All was going well. And it looked like I would actually leave for school on time that morning.

And then it happened. The “don’t-get-all-cocky-parenting-Gods” heard my thought and cast a spell on my house.

“MOMMMY! MOMMMY! MOMMMY!” #3 screamed hysterically while sobbing.

“What? What’s wrong?”

“Gone. GONE! GONE!”

“What honey? I can’t understand you, I’m sorry.” (#3’s speech is improving but when he is hysterical, forget about it).

“Gggggone. It. ggggone. Mkr.”

I surveyed his surroundings to figure out what the heck he was talking about. I had NO bloomin’ clue. Every word I suggested he screamed NO, NO, NOOOO! His screams became even more intolerable to the point where my ears were ringing and #1 had to get earmuffs. There was no deciphering his screams, there was no stopping his screams, there was no relief. Just an absolute desire to scream back even louder.

I cautiously went over to him, hoping he wouldn’t throw his breakfast at me in frustration (yes, that HAS happened). I tried to pick him up to hug him and calm him. He just kicked and hit as hard as possible until I had no choice but to put him down and watch him flail and sob uncontrollably. #3 has made much progress. Much much much progress. But when he loses an item he is attached to he goes apoplectic. Absolutely apoplectic and it sucks.

Then he stopped.

Silence fell upon him.

“MARKER! MARKER! Found!”

There under the kitchen cabinet was his brand new white marker. Phew I thought, we can get back to our nice quiet, gift of a morning. The “don’t-get-all-cocky-parenting-Gods” heard my thought and decided to rattle my morning, again.

“MOMMMMMMMY!”

Sh*t. It started again.

“Gggggone!”

This time I knew the problem. He didn’t have just 1 new marker. He had two. Operative word being HAD two. At this moment he only had one.

I dropped to my hands and knees and frantically looked under the changing table, under the kitchen carpet, under the other cabinets. I went to the bathroom where he had been moments before and looked in the toilet, behind the toilet, in the sink. It had to be somewhere. It just had to be. Markers don’t just get up and walk away you know. No luck. I came back to the kitchen and crawled under the kitchen table and searched under the chairs, in the heating vent.

Shrill screaming continuing in my ears and I had had it. I went to stand up and scream back, forgetting I was under the table.

BAM! I slammed my head on the table. Crap. This morning had turned to CRAP!

“#3, get over it. It’s just a marker.” I snapped as I rubbed my throbbing head.

I looked closely at #3, tears now rolling down his puffy cheeks and starting to form in my own. Oh how I hate it when my son is like this; I hate the frustration he feels. I hate the frustration I feel. I hate not being able to help him, to soothe him. I was tired of looking for the darn marker but I wanted to help my son, I wanted to save him from an even worse meltdown. So where’s a mom to look?

The trash can, obviously.

Markers don’t walk away BUT 14 month olds walk away with things and put them in the trash. Sleeves up, I dug. And dug. Through taco meat, black beans, yogurt, wet paper towels and more. Yuck.  Are you kidding me? All this for a marker? No. All this for love.

Just then #1 sauntered over.

“What ya doing mom?” he sweetly asked, darn well knowing what I was doing.

“Looking for #3’s marker.”

Then I looked at my eldest son closer. I noticed a twinkle in his eye. Make that both eyes. And I noticed fidgeting hands in his pocket. He need not say a word. I knew what the answer to my next question was going to be.

“#1, do you have #3’s marker?”

“Oh this??!!!”

And voila! He presented the damn white marker I had just banged my head over, washed my hands in trash over, almost lost my cool over.

“Are you f*****g kidding me?”I thought to myself.

“Have you had this marker all along?”

Giggle. Giggle. Giggle.

“Are you f*****g kidding me?” I thought to myself again.

And then I giggled, giggled, giggled too.

Because at that moment I was just so relieved to have found the pen that I could have cared less that I now smelled like a trash can and my eldest had just played a joke on me.

Because at that moment I knew I would make my third son smile again, that I would fill his little heart with joy and that was way more important to me than being annoyed with my other son.

Because at that moment love trumped anger.

I am Totally That Mom

246 days of not yelling, 119 days of loving more to go!

Dear I am Totally That Mom,

I am Totally That Mom inspired by you! Thank you for the guest post below; for writing so honestly and eloquently what I feel but couldn’t express. Last weekish when you wrote on your blog about your desire to become a non-yelling mom, about your decision to change, just like that, you showed a “go get ‘em attitude” that completely inspired me.

pin1

After reading tonight’s post, I felt equally inspired, more so actually. So thank you. I might be on Day 246ish of not yelling but I still need inspiration to keep me going day in and day out, I still need help staying focused, I still need help being the change I want to see in the world (one of my favorite sayings by the way). When I am feeling lost, I will turn to this post.

Thank you,

The Orange Rhino

*

Recently, I wrote this, about my desire to stop yelling (http://www.iamtotallythatmom.blogspot.com/2012/10/so-i-changed-just-like-that.html).

I felt strong. I felt capable. I was making a decision. It was hard, but I could do it.

Today, I feel like crap. The last few days have been hard. While I am not yelling like I once was, I have yelled. I have yelled unapologetically. I have started my way back down the slippery playground slide into my old ways. Old ways (okay they are not that old) that do not help me and that do not help my kids.

In those moments, when the kids’ volume is set on super-high-let’s-damage-mom’s-hearing and the dishes, clutter, and laundry are threatening to EAT me, my body goes into survival mode. Make. it. stop. MAKE IT STOP. Make it all stop. I can’t think of anything else besides a fierce, intense, primal need to make the world go black. I need quiet, darkness, and calm. I need a sensory deprivation chamber. And yet it’s not there, and I can’t run to find it. Fight or flight. Flight’s not an option and so I fight.

Sigh.


I have big dreams. I have high expectations. Some would say I put too much pressure on myself; I do too much. They say give yourself a break, no parents are perfect. They say what you want isn’t realistic, life is messy. They say the kids will get older and it will get easier, just hang on.

All of those things are true in some way or another. But I don’t want to be perfect, and I don’t want to hide until my kids are older. Life is messy. To be honest, I love life’s messiness. It’s in some of life’s messy moments that I have laughed the hardest and smiled the biggest. In others, I have cried the hardest. I can’t feel or experience any of life’s messiness, in all its beauty and intensity, when I am in fight or flight mode. When I am in fight or flight mode, I can’t breathe. Life isn’t messy then, it’s mean.

And so today, I re-focus. I re-read the words I wrote two weeks ago. I breathe. I do handstands. (I know this isn’t for everyone, but I swear it is the single most effective thing in helping my body believe it’s not being attacked by saber tooth tigers, small boys, or dishes). I sit with my coffee, and I write. I breathe in the fresh fall air (that’s a tad too brisk to be sitting on the porch) and I marvel at the beauty in my backyard. I notice the bottle of glue sitting on the table next the kids ever growing pile of drying crafts. I notice a few marshmallow roasting forks and some empty cups outside on the patio by the fire pit leftover from an evening with friends. And I hear the boys inside getting louder as they are immersed in imaginative play that might involve tying each other up or practicing their long jump from the arm of couch over whatever other furniture may be in the way. It’s messy, but it’s beautiful.

I think about what I want for my family. I want them to know unconditional love. I want them to know that their home is a safe place when the world is scary. I want them to know the value in peaceful communication. I want them to know that we don’t use our bodies or our words for hurting. I want them to know and understand true respect for other beings – not just the version that means shutting up and listening to big people. That won’t serve them in life, but them knowing the inherent value in every living being will serve them and the world. I want them to thrive in life’s messiness – the good, the bad, the ugly, and the awesome.

So I need to be the change I want to see in the world, my world, and the big big world. Yes it’s hard, but it’s also real. These last few days are a just a part of the journey. It’s messy and beautiful. This week my goal is to live it all, feel it all (even if that’s sometimes from behind the locked bathroom door, it’s better than losing it), and not let myself slip into fight or flight where not only does the yelling start but all the beautiful mess fades into the background.

Next week on my blog, I’ll look at what’s working and what’s not, but for now I needed to remind myself why I was doing this.

For more of “I am Totally That Mom’s” posts, go to http://www.iamtotallythatmom.blogspot.com

Would you like to write a guest post? Please email me at theorangerhinochallenge@gmail.com I would love to have one featured writer a week. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be real and a pleasure for you to write! 

 

Do NOT try this at home!

243 days without yelling, 122 days of loving more to go!

Dear M.C. Hammer,

I completely, 110% blame you for my raging headache last week. Was it really necessary to write a catchy song with the lyrics “Stop, it’s Hammer Time”? Couldn’t it have been more like “Stop, it’s quiet time?” I know you won’t be writing any more music in the future but if you do, please consult me first.

Cheers,
The Orange Rhino

*

It was a peaceful and perfect afternoon in the Orange Rhino household. The boys were outside in the brisk fall air, frolicking around joyously trying to catch the falling leaves. As they ran they laughed and smiled at each other as if to say, oh how I love thee brother, let me count the ways. AS IF!

It was a typical afternoon in the Orange Rhino household. The three oldest boys were worn out from the days classes and activities and were bouncing off the walls each other. It was pouring rain and cold out so no chance of them running off their energy vis a vis splashing in the puddles. Nope. They were (I was?!) stranded inside with a screaming 15 month old whose teeth just seem to show no mercy.

Full of energy and exhaustion all at once, and lacking patience at the same time, not one of the three eldest had any intention of behaving that afternoon. Instead they opted to do their usual stunts: hit each other, pull shirts, throw toys at each other, whine for another snack, whine about each other, whine that daddy wasn’t home. It was pouring outside and pouring chaos inside.

Did I mention I had a headache from being up the night before playing the ever popular “how many beds can I fall asleep in” as I chased nightmares away?

It wasn’t a glorious day outside and I certainly didn’t feel glorious inside.

And then it started. The second wind that is.

All of a sudden my three eldest were running around the house screaming at the top of their lungs. Or shall I say screeching? They were tired of beating up each other and complaining and decided to move ahead to pure hyperactive play.

Oh. My. God.

The yelling. The movement. The insanity.

If I heard one more shrill voice wiz past me as I now tried to cook dinner I was going to either scream or throw the pot of pasta viciously at the sink. It was THAT bad. And my attempts (albeit truly weak attempts) to halt the behavior were completely ignored.

“STOP!” I snapped.

Oh crap, I’m gonna blow. Think quick, Orange Rhino, think quick!

“STOP!  It’s hammer time!” I bellowed out in a trying to be funny and cool and I don’t know what voice.

My boys froze.

“What?” my boys asked. Obviously (duh…) they didn’t get the reference that stumbled off of my tongue as if it were 1980’s and were totally confused.

“STOP! It’s hammer time!”  I said with a huge smile on my face.

Yeah, I got this in the bag, I smugly thought to myself. We’ll start a dance party. All will be well in the world. I could never stand MC Hammer or his crazy pants, but at this moment, I was totally gratefully for his annoying song. It was an awesome recovery. I practically patted myself on the back.

And then I realized I had 4 boys. Not 4 girls.

“What? Hammer time?” #2 asked.

“Yeah, hamma time!” Said #3.

“GO GET YOUR HAMMERS BOYS!” shouted #1.

And no joke, they all ran, got their hammers and resumed running around. But this time, with hammers in hand and hammering anything in site. I thought it was loud before? That was nothing.

What the perfect visual. Imagine the balloon was my head. See all the splashing out? That’s my sanity. Photo courtesy ehow

Did I not yell?
Did I end up laughing?

Yes. Bonus.

But did my head feel like the balloon to the left?

Heck yeah.

So as I alluded to in the title of this post, parents, do NOT try this at home. Try any other form of not yelling, perhaps one of these 50 alternatives, just please don’t burst out singing “STOP! It’s Hammer Time.”

Perhaps instead, may I suggest,  “2 LEGIT, 2 LEGIT 2 QUIT!”

Want to take a flashback to the 1990’s? Here’s the video clip for you.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0_ICNMbdzw

Here’s another post with a tribute to a song I grew up with.  This post is from the early early days of this challenge. Day 1, TAKE 7 to be exact.
http://theorangerhino.com/things-that-make-me-go-ahhhh/

You said what?!

241 days without yelling, 124 days of LOVING MORE to go

Dear Friendly’s,

You should print on your menus that all customers should be Friendly in order to eat at your restaurant. And perhaps a reminder that it is a family friendly restaurant, ie. that kids will be there. Oh and perhaps a note that sometimes kids make…noise.

Just a thought,
The Orange Rhino

*

Fact: My #3 has a tendency to yell and scream when frustrated. It is a known problem. We are working on it.

Fact: My #3 has made a lot of progress over the last year and a half. A lot of progress.

Fact: My #3 has worked hard – at speech therapy and occupational therapy to overcome his struggles.

Fact: My #3 is a love. Oh and a PERSON with areas of improvement. Like all of US.

Fact: I do not accept screaming in public.

Fact: I don’t yell and I don’t hit. I don’t believe in either. But I do still believe in discipline. And I believe with practice I can do so without said yelling and without hitting.

Fact: I work hard to love my children, to help my children, and to accept them despite their challenges.

Fact: I love my #3 fiercely. We have been reproached several times when he has one of his fits. I used to take it personally. I used to be angry at him. I used to be embarrassed by him. I used to allow others who yelled and criticized me to make me feel smaller.

FACT: I AM DONE feeling ashamed of how hard I am working to help my child with his struggles. I am done making excuses for the challenges he faces. I am done taking it all personally. Because I know my son and I are working our as*es off to improve. I am working harder every time to stay calm and to help him (which is what he needs…he does NOT need to be hit or yelled at, he needs me to teach him and help him. He needs me to try and understand him, what he is trying to say and what he can’t say).  And my son is working hard as h*ll to find his words, to calm down, to act more “appropriately.” We as a team our trying really bl**dy hard and I am proud of us.

Today I proved to myself that I am changing, that we are changing and dam*it I feel proud. I am tooting my Rhino Horn loudly tonight.

While at Friendly’s tonight for #1’s birthday #3 screamed. I promptly picked him up and brought him to the door for a break. We returned. His shirt got wet. He screamed again. I frantically dried his shirt and worked hard to soothe him while my baby started fussing because he didn’t have a crayon? Gosh knows why he was fussing. I was trying HARD hard hard to soothe everyone, to gain control of my bunch of wonderful boys all excited to be celebrating a birthday. I was sweating BULLETS. Bullets because I knew eyes were watching me.

Would I succeed? Would I settle my brood? Oh the eyes for judging me for sure. So I sweat even more.

Then #3 let out one more scream because his napkin wrinkled the wrong way.

And that is when sh*t hit the fan.

Turns out one of those judging sets of eyes had a voice too. The older voice spoke:

“Why don’t you bring him over here, I’ll hit him for you and then take care of him. I’ll make him shut up.”

(I’m sorry. What? What did you dare just utter to me??? Did you just volunteer to hit my kid? What makes you think I wanted to do that in the first place?! I was absolutely AMAZED at her ridiculousness.)

Without blinking an eye, without sweating even more, without JUMPING across the table over to her’s and throttling her, I ever so sweetly and politely replied:

“Oh, please don’t talk to my son that way. It isn’t nice and it isn’t funny. He is a child. Both he and I are trying our hardest.”

Then I took a drink of water, resisted all urge to throw it in her face, and turned back to my son wicked proud of myself for standing up for my son, for us.

“I love you #3. I know you are upset. It’s okay. Do you need a hug?”

“Yes mommy. I love you.”

This time sweat didn’t drip down my face. Tears did. Lots of them. And for a change they weren’t tears of defeat, tears of embarrassment, tears of fear, tears of frustration. They were tears of sheer joy.

I LOVE YOU.

I LOVE YOU.

The first time in 3 years my son has ever been able to speak those words without prompt.

I LOVE YOU. I’ll say it again and again and again.

I can only imagine if I had lost it with him, or her. Pretty sure I wouldn’t have heard those words. Tonight or for gosh knows how long. And let me tell you. It was outright AMAZING.

*

I know I have said it before. I know it is probably annoying and boring and all that jazz to be said again BUT…. I continue to be blown away by how this Orange Rhino Challenge, how learning to not yell, is benefiting my family and I in more ways than one. A year and half ago (read here)I never would have stood up for myself so eloquently. NEVER. But I have learned I CAN control myself and in doing so, I am way more powerful. How do I know?

The lady of the night? Well she didn’t make another peep the entire meal. Oh, and for the record, neither did my son. He rocked the rest of the meal which for a 3 year old with some challenges is pretty fantastic. 

P.S. If you are thinking of commenting, please remember this is a supporting, loving community. I am not intending to engage in the debate of is hitting kids right or wrong. Instead, I want to focus on how The Orange Rhino Challenge has many a benefits. That and that my son FINALLY said I LOVE YOU!!!

One of my biggest triggers for yelling…

Dear Orange Rhinos,

This might be too much information. Perhaps too “deep”and too “boring” but I wrote it and figured I might as well share it. Am I alone in this trigger?

The Orange Rhino

*

I just want to cry right now. I am so down and out and feeling cruddy about myself that all I want to do is burst into tears. But I can’t. Because intellectually I know I “shouldn’t” be feeling what I am feeling and so my intellectual side of my brain is desperately trying to beat my emotional side up. It is trying so hard to suppress what I feel. It is trying to be helpful, I know it is but really RIGHT NOW I don’t want to be intellectual. I don’t care if it isn’t healthy to have an unrelenting need to be liked, to be accepted. I don’t care if I shouldn’t care that a few people don’t like me when all the important ones do. I don’t care (right now) if these crappy feelings I am having are just getting in the way of me having a good day; I also kind of don’t care if they are setting me up to yell.

Right now, I just don’t care.

I just want to eat a bacon, egg, and cheese on sesame bagel to feel better. Or perhaps get a grande caffee mocha from Starbucks? I want to eat my pain and frustration with myself away. But I can’t because I am trying to lose weight and part of that has been teaching myself to NOT eat when I am upset. To not fight my emotions with salt and sweets but instead to deal with them. BOO. Eating can be way more fun and tasty.

I just want to curl up in a ball and cry and feel sorry for myself that some people don’t like me and feel sorry for myself that I am so ridiculous to CONSTANTLY struggle with this need to be liked by everyone. I struggle with this back as*wards thinking that the people who don’t like me are more important than those that do. But I can’t. Because I have kids to take care of today and places to be and places to be seen. There is no time to cry today.

I just want to find confidence in ME. I just want to believe in ME. I just want to be happy with ME and MY LIFE even if and when people don’t like me and what I do. And I want to believe all the people that say “the people that care about you are the people that matter.” I want to…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I want to believe and live all these beautiful sayings. But some days, I can’t.

Which leaves me so frustrated.

I just want to understand WHY? Why am I this way? Why do I need to be liked by everyone? Why do I focus on the few who don’t like me instead of being grateful for those who do?

Is it because I heard a bunch of catty girls talking about me in the swimming locker room when I was 7? Because I heard them on more than one occasion blame a lost race on me? Because I heard them say on more than one occasion that I was a loser? That they didn’t like me?

Is it because I am just a naturally insecure person and there is no way I can change my DNA? In other words, am I just screwed?

Is it because of the way I was raised? Was I not loved enough? Was my brother loved more?

Is it because for so many years I was never any one’s #1 go to person and I spent so many years trying to get to that spot, to get people to like me, that it became a habit?

Is it because I have been hurt by a lot of people, disappointed by a lot of people, so that when even one person disappoints me it feels like a 100?

I don’t know the answer. Even my mom doesn’t know the answer. I called and asked her because she obviously knows me the longest and the best. I talked it through with her. I kept saying to her and me, why? why? why do I have this absolutely infuriating, annoying, and ugly personality trait? Why must I have it? It is a pain in the arse and is a major trigger for yelling. If I feel someone doesn’t like me, or I offended someone, I think about it ALL DAY which kind of keeps me from being present with my kids and kinda sets me up to yell BIG TIME because I feel so crappy about me. So why mom, WHY I ask you am I like this? How do I change?

I got off the phone still not knowing.

But I do know this. 703+ words ago when I started writing I wanted to cry. I felt so incredibly crappy that I was certain I was going to scream at my kids today.  For no other reason than mama was in a sad mood. And that desire has passed. Forcing myself to sit and write and think about this personal struggle of mine, forcing myself to face the hard sh*t instead of ignoring it, has helped me feel better. I feel a slight weight lifted for now. It might be slight, and it might be a passing moment, but it is progress. And any progress is progress.   

I ain’t a Saint, trust me!

239 days without yelling, 126 days of loving more to go!

Dear Neighbor,

Thanks for making me laugh today! When you suggested that I must be a saint because I don’t yell at my 4 boys I almost crashed my hockey stick scratched up, rotten milk smelling, cheerio filled mini-van into my newly planted, and newly kicked and jumped on by said boys, mums. Trust me sweetheart, I might not yell anymore but I still ain’t a saint but oh, thanks for the chuckle! Here are just a FEW, emphasis on a few, of the parenting mistakes (or flaws depending on who you ask) that show I am not up for title of Saint.  P.S. I know I have worse and funnier offenders. But I have blocked them out of my mind for good reason.

My turn to try to make you laugh or smile,
The Orange Rhino

*

1)      I (accidentally) taught my kids the f-bomb at an early age. I still believe it is a powerful communicator and a great word BUT I shouldn’t have taught it to my almost 6 year old when he was 1. Because now he says “aw f***ing great” and “what the f**k?” And yes, he taught his brothers that word too.

2)      I let my kids go out in the winter without hats on and sometimes without jackets. This drives my mother-in-law absolutely nuts. Perhaps that is why I do it?

3)      Last Monday I forgot that I signed up for my son’s birthday party in school. 10 minutes before I was supposed to go in I remembered. 9 minutes before I raced to the supermarket and bought whatever they had. Mind you it was a Monday. And the bakery section had yet to be re-filled from the weekend.

4)      Sometimes I don’t realize my baby has a dirty diaper until my sons tell me. “Mommy don’t you know #4 has a dirty diaper? Aren’t you going to change it.” Sh*t, add that to the to-do list before getting out the door.

5)      For almost a solid year I served dinner out of the freezer. And no, I don’t mean frozen vegetables or frozen homemade meals. I mean frozen pre-made meals by manufacturers. GASP!

6)      I let my kids eat food off the floor. Yes, I apply the 5 second rule to restaurants too. Yes, I know I just eerked a bunch of you out.

7)      I ignored a teacher’s suggestion for two years that my son needed OT. Both he and I could have avoided a lot of painful moments if I hadn’t been so headstrong.

8)      One Halloween I made my boys then 1, 2ish and 4 wear what I picked despite their complaints. All because I wanted my then 1 year old to wear the exact costume his brothers had and I needed a theme to go with it. That and well Wizard of Oz with mom as Dorothy was too cute.

9)      I did my son’s puzzle tonight, without him asking. I know I need to encourage his puzzle skills but his new interest has re-kindled my own interest and I couldn’t put the pieces down.

10)   I say “just a minute, just a minute” a lot. Not because I am busy but because well, sometimes I just don’t want to play another game of Monopoly or have my “boo boo’s” looked at by my in-house doctors.

11)   I most definitely let my kids watch too much T.V. Yes, Disney is often my babysitter when mama needs a break. Even if our TV allotment for the day has been reached.

12)   I make big (and silly) proclamations and threats. And then don’t follow through. If you don’t get out the door in 2 minutes I’m gonna go without you. Oooh, this is so wrong. I would never ever do that!

13)   I let my kids sit and read gossip magazines instead of reading to them. Reading is actually really hard for me so I try to do the bare minimum. Not good. I know. But US Weekly can teach a lot, right?

#3 one year ago in the waiting room for Speech Therapy.

 

14)   I don’t wear make-up or stylish clothes (or even clean clothes) and look all presentable and pretty. In fact, I don’t know how to apply makeup. I wore eye liner for the first time when I had my wedding make up trial done. At age 23.

15)   I don’t get down and play with my kids on the floor a lot. Yes, I do do it. I do unplug and unwind and focus on them but definitely not as much as I dream of.

16)   I might not yell, but on occasion I still shame my kids. I just do it in a really passive aggressively quiet voice. It doesn’t break my rules but I still need to work on it.

17)   I might not yell, but I still am a snap-happy person. Sometimes so much that I think I should have made this blog the “snapping green turtle” blog.

18)   I make my kids take boat loads of family pictures even though I know they hate it. Even if they are whining and moaning and groaning about how miserable they are, I still force them to sit still and smile. Yeah, this approach always works and makes great pictures. As if.

19)   I call to my kids from across the room to do something knowing that it won’t work. Then again sometimes going across the room doesn’t work either!

20)   I handed peanut butter crackers to my son who is allergic to peanut butter. I’d like to say it was to test him. But it wasn’t. I forgot which kid I was making a snack for.

Ahhh, I ain’t perfect. And I am perfectly okay with that (on most days). Because I am a work in progress. Aren’t we all?

 

 

The b*tchy side of the bed

236 days without yelling, 129 days of loving more to go!

Dear Mattress Company,

When I bought my bed you promised me that the plush top and the number of coils would guarantee that I always woke up on the right side of the bed but that just in case I didn’t I should buy your special warrantee against waking up on the wrong side of the bed. Um, what about the warrantee to protect me from waking up on the b*tchy side of the bed??! Could have really used it today. BIG TIME. Please strongly consider such a warrantee for future bed purchasers.

Sincerely,
The Orange Rhino

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Oh wow did I ever wake up on the b*tchy side of the bed today. Not the cranky side, not the wrong side, but the wicked b*tchy side. I woke up groggy from one measly glass of red wine that left me with a headache. Ugh. Alcohol is so not my friend. I woke up exhausted from the kids’ not-sleeping-charades last night. Ugh. Nightmares are not my friend either. I woke up frustrated about a project I am working on. Ugh. Expectations can be friendly and mean. I woke up angry that I overslept because I stayed up too late. Ugh. The long to-do list is not my friend either right now. And by the way, neither is my monthly friend. Double UGH. She brings out the worst in me! Put this ALL together and I woke up one heck of a B*TCH this morning!

And when I feel that way, watch out kiddos. The slightest wrong move and I will blow. I will SCREAM at you for nothing. I will scream at you for trying to make the bed…because you’ll make it wrong and that will bother me. I will scream at you for being naked 10 minutes after I asked you to get dressed. I will scream at you for waking up your baby brother. I will scream at you for pushing your older brother. I will scream at you for asking me too many questions. I will scream at you for looking at me the wrong way.

The problem with this set-up? As you all know, I made a promise to myself I wouldn’t yell at my kids anymore. So this morning, instead of yelling, I spent almost three hours being snappy and b*tchy. I didn’t have to hear my voice to know I was being b*tchy and unpleasant to be around. I just had to listen to the constant complaints of my three boys: “when is daddy gonna be home?” and “when is it the weekend so daddy will be home in the morning?” and “I want daddy not you.”

Yep. It was a really beautiful 3 hours of quality family time.

And yep, come this morning at 8:53, as we headed out the door LATE to school and #2 was dragging his feet I was PRIMED and READY to be the most absolute b*tch possible.

Which meant one thing. I had to get my sh*t together fast!

Darnit, I had to actually intercept my negative thinking and choose to be nice. I had to choose to stop being b*tchy because I was on a one way path towards screamdom. And I don’t want to go there. Been there, done that, it ain’t pretty.

So I started doing what I have taught myself to do.

Talk myself down off the b*tchy ledge.

“Orange Rhino, get it together. It’s okay to be 30 seconds late.”

“Orange Rhino, if you keep up this cranky mood your whole day is going to stink. What a waste of a day.”

“Orange Rhino, look at those cute faces. Do you really want to yell at them?”

“Orange Rhino, your kids are being kids, they haven’t done anything wrong. You control YOUR behavior. YOU CAN DO THIS.”

(Yep, I know. I sound totally corny. That is what The Orange Rhino Challenge has done to me.)

I had to give myself quite the pep talk to shake the mood. Because when I wake on the b*tchy side of the bed, my b*tchy mood wakes up and oh she is fierce and persuasive and completely intent on staying and partying a long while. It is HARD for me to put her back to bed. Really, really, really hard. I have an awful tendency of letting a bad mood grow into a disastrous everything sucks and bothers me mood all within a day. AND I have a tendency to let that mood hang for days. Which P.S. makes it beyond difficult to not yell at my kids.

I always feel like a fool after I talk to myself. I feel so hokey and cheesy and all sorts of weird.

BUT IT WORKS. It works people. I no longer feel like a B*tch! I still feel bloated and overwhelmed  J but not like a b*tch. I’ll take the improvement. Because now this day stands a chance.

So go ahead, talk to yourself out of yelling today. Intercept your negative thoughts that you can’t not yell and tell yourself that you can. But don’t just do it for the obvious benefit of not yelling, do it for me so that I don’t feel so silly doing it!   

12 ways not yelling has helped my Marriage

234 days without yelling, 131 days of loving more to go!

Dear Green Turtle, a.k.a. my husband, as named by our boys,

The Green Turtle..with four spots, one for each boy!

I know sometimes I blog too much and hang out with you too little. I know sometimes I check Facebook too much instead of checking in with you. I know I talk a lot about me, The Orange Rhino, instead of us, The Orange Rhino + The Green Turtle. I hope you have noticed that I have tried to find a better balance; that I have tried to hold your hand at night more instead of the “keyboard’s”. I also hope you noticed that while I am not a perfect wife that I do think I am becoming a little bit of a better wife as a result of all this blogging, as a result of taking on this Challenge.

You see, last night I was writing as normal. Somehow I ended up talking marriage, a topic I have been asked to write about but which I have mostly avoided. But last night I opened up that can of worms and tonight I can’t help but delve in deeper even though I HATE worms! I have spent so much time feeling like a crappy wife, feeling like you deserve better than me. When I realized last night that I was becoming a less “crappy” wife, well, it made me stop and think. It made me think that yeah, I talk about The Orange Rhino blog too much and yeah it can be a time suck BUT it is good for me and it is good for us. Because it is making me a better parent and a better spouse. So when you are tired of my Orange Rhino talk, just try to remember that it isn’t just benefiting our kids, it is also benefiting me and US.

How you ask? You like bullet points so here are 12 ways The Orange Rhino Challenge is benefiting US:

1. I’ve learned that feeling disconnected from you makes me cranky (and sad) and apt to yell so now… I actively make us have date nights at home during the week to keep us connected not just because I don’t want to yell but also because I want to keep our marriage strong

2. I’ve learned that not yelling at our kids makes me more positive about them so now…I share more positive stories with you and we share more laughs (read here)

3. I’ve learned that if I feel bad about my body that I am prone to yell so now…I exercise more,  eat healthier and am generally happier and turns out I also snap at you (and the kids) much less (read here)

4. I’ve learned that I need sleep to be a more pleasant and controlled person so now…I go to bed earlier and as a result don’t start the day yelling at you to make the bed because I am more rested and reasonable

5. I’ve learned that I expect a lot from the kids and you and that my expectations of to-do’s was too high so now…I just do certain things on my own because really, I can do it and it isn’t a big deal for you to do it and nagging you just made us fight (like making the bed and wiping the toothpaste off the counter!) (read here) 

6. I’ve learned that keeping bad feelings in doesn’t do me any good, that it just makes me snap-happy and yelling-tempted so now…I actually talk to you if I am upset instead of keeping a grudge and spiraling us towards a dark place (read here)

7. I’ve learned that letting the kids know the days plans and changes keeps our fights down so now…I also do the same with you because neither of us like surprises, or fights

8. I’ve learned that yelling at the kids just makes them shut down and shut me out so now…I try to not yell at you because you do the same(understandably)

9. I’ve learned ruminating and ruminating on things I can’t change makes me uber grouchy, uber un-present and uber prone to yell so now…I try my hardest to let go of things more often, especially when I am with you so I can enjoy our time together (read here)

10. I’ve learned that a dirty cluttered kitchen counter makes me feel suffocated (read here) and set up to yell at anyone who left anything behind so now…I clean the counter every night for 5 minutes and I KNOW that makes you super happy

11. I’ve learned that I need to ask for help that I can’t be superwoman or I’ll crack so now…I ask you for help when I need it instead of beings pissed at you that I do everything

12. I’ve learned that it is easy to make excuses (read here) and not do something hard for fear of not knowing how. I’ve learned that it takes determination and commitment. I’ve learned it is possible to build a bridge, to overcome a challenge. I’ve learned that I made a lot of excuses about why I couldn’t stop yelling AND that I’ve made a lot of excuses for why marriage is hard. I’ve learned that I can’t say “we have 4 kids and that’s why it’s hard to stay connected and have fun like we used to” because that is an excuse so now…SO NOW I AM COMMITTING to toss that excuse aside and put just as much energy into us and our connection as I did the day we met.

xoxo,
The Orange Rhino

An unexpected ending…

233 days of not yelling, 132 days of loving more to go!

Dear Internet World, again,

My name is The Orange Rhino and I don’t yell at my kids (anymore). I stopped yelling at them 233 ish days ago and I have no intentions of turning back.

Every night (more or less) before I started The Orange Rhino Challenge my husband would come home and ask me how the day went. Was it good? Was it bad? Or it was it outright ugly? I just about never really wanted to engage in the conversation to be honest. Mostly because I knew the conversation would sadly go like this:

“The day was mostly good. #1 did this #2 did that #3 did this and #4 did that. But I yelled. I yelled more than I wanted today.” I would then annoyingly go on and on about my maternal guilt and personal disappointment and dwell on the bad part of the day instead of the good.

My husband would listen intently, and lovingly tell me, “It’s okay. Tomorrow is another day. You’ll do better. The boys know you love them. Hang in there.”

And then as he headed to change out of his work clothes I would stop, think and debate whether or not to tell him, to ADMIT to him, about the one really bad screaming fit I had that day; the one that mortified me. The one that I was so ashamed of that I didn’t even have the guts to tell my husband. My loss of self control, my being a mom I never wanted to be, and certainly not the mom my husband would want me to be. Because well sometimes it is too embarrassing (and scary?!) to admit to certain behaviors.  

But for the last 233 days I haven’t had to have that mental debate with myself. I haven’t even spent the night trying to avoid the “how was the day” question. I actually initiate the chat.

Instead of sitting at the kitchen counter looking pouty and beat up from the day as I recount to my husband the day’s DOWNS and some ups, I am often the one jumping in with, gasp, a little smile and pep in my voice, as I share the day’s UPS and few downs.

I no longer spend the entire night’s check-in focusing on me and my guilt, focusing on what the kids did wrong instead of “right.” Instead I now NATURALLY focus on the funny things the kids did, the sweet things, the seriously-are-you-kidding-me things. Sure, I share some frustrating things too, but even those I share with a different tone. The tone of anger is gone and has been replaced with concern or simple frustration. What a NICE CHANGE. What a nice, nice change. I honestly attribute this change to learning not to yell. Either that or there is something in the water I’ve been drinking!

No seriously, I know it sounds cheesy, and perhaps I am looking through rose colored glasses, but I really think this change in how I reflect upon my day is a result of not yelling.

In not yelling, I have less* to complain about in regards to my parenting.

In not yelling, I feel less* mama guilt which makes me feel lighter and happier which surprisingly, to me at least, makes me see, seek, and share joyful moments more than before.

In not yelling, I have learned that to keep my desire to yell at bay I need to let go more* often of the negative feelings towards my boys’ negative behavior which again surprisingly, at least to me, makes me feel lighter and happier and again makes me see, seek, and share joyful moments more than before.

In not yelling, life is less negative and more positive. Across the board.

My night time chats with my husband used to be a real downer and therefore a real waste of quality time with him. Now we actually connect over my daily download. We share laughs. We share “shakes of the heads” in agreement that wow, our life is a circus, a fun loving one, but still an outright circus. And we share moments of concern about our kids but even those are more positive moments. Because I am not pouty and focusing on me and my faults I am actually present and more open to the discussion about how we need to help our kids.

Our conversations used to always make me feel crappy afterwards.

Kind of like yelling.

Not yelling makes me feel more connected to my kids.

And I guess it makes me feel more connected to my husband too.

I used to go to bed, full of hope for a better day tomorrow and still full of guilt for how that day went down and full of fear that I’ll lose it again tomorrow. I used to go to bed mentally preoccupied and frustrated and disconnected to my husband because I wasted the night being moody.

Now more often than not I go to bed after laughing about some other memory from the day.

Yeah, I would say learning not to yell has been good for me. And my marriage.

My name is The Orange Rhino, and I will go 365 days straight without yelling at my kids because I am doing better, I still want to keep doing better, and because my kids AND my husband deserve better.

*Emphasis on less and more. I am not perfect. I still have my moments, rest assured. Like my boys, I am a work in progress!