Waiting. And Waiting. And Waiting. And Yelling?

307 days without yelling, 58 days of loving more to go!

Dear Clock,

Tick, tock. Tick, tock. Is it time yet? Are we there yet? Has the line moved yet? I spend too much time looking at you, wondering if it is time yet. Perhaps I should care less and enjoy the time that is now? Perhaps that would make waiting easier for both me and my kiddos?

Yeah, I know. Easier said than done.

The Orange Rhino

*

How much of our lives are spent waiting? Waiting for an answer. Waiting for someone. Waiting for something. A lot. More minutes than I can count. In fact you’d be waiting an awful long time for me to finish this post if I actually tried to count or even guesstimate how much time I have spent waiting in my life. And even then it would most certainly be a guess.

But there would be one certainty. I HATE waiting. It drives me nuts. Not just because I am a punctual person who doesn’t like to waste time, and an organized person who likes to maximize time, and a control-freak type person who doesn’t like to wait but likes to know now, but because well, it’s hard to be patient.

It was hard to be patient when I was in jr. high school and waiting for my first “real kiss.”

It was hard to be patient in high school and waiting to learn where I got accepted to college.

It was hard to be patient in college waiting to hear if I got my first job.

It was hard after college waiting and waiting for an engagement ring.

It was hard after the ring waiting and waiting and waiting two weeks past due date for labor to start.

Those are obviously big milestones, and the waiting was obviously hard. Even though I was waiting for great moments, the nervous anticipation of these great moments was a real pain in the tuckus as it brought me way up in excitement and then way down with disappointment.

But even for the little milestones, even the little non-milestones, waiting is hard. Waiting for gas when two kids are screaming in back seats is hard. Waiting for said kids to stop screaming so you can talk to the other kids who are crying and can’t hear you over the screaming is hard. Waiting in line at Starbucks for the lady on her phone not paying attention is hard. Waiting for night time to come so I can have some peace and quiet is hard. Yes, waiting for big and little things is hard!

Little man had his MRI today and I have to wait three to four days for answers. I want answers NOW. As in thirty seconds ago. I don’t want to wait to find out if my baby has something wrong with his brain because every minute that passes I am going to be anxious and scared and sad and hopeful for good news but still scared and still wicked impatient. It’s going to be an emotional roller coaster these next few days.

But I can handle it, the wait. Kind of. I’m 35 I have had the luxury of teaching myself patience over the years. Yet still, I will struggle. I will get angry every day that I have to wait. I will snap at my kids every day that I have to wait. I will feel nervous every day.

And again, I am 35.

But what if I were 3 or 5 and not 35? If I struggle with waiting and I understand time and life (or at least kind of do) as an adult, imagine how kids feel trying to be patient? Imagine how kids feel waiting?

Since they don’t quite understand time?
Since they don’t quite get why things can’t happen now?
Since they don’t quite embrace the whole patience is a virtue thing?

It must be hard as h*ll for them. I know how much I struggle with waiting. This week proved it to me as I waited for doctors appointments and wait again for results. Waiting makes me antsy, it makes me b*tchy sometimes, it makes me frustrated, it makes me snappy.

So is it any wonder that kids struggle with waiting too? How often have I snapped at them for getting itchy in line at the grocery store, Target, Dunkin’ Donuts? How often have I yelled at them in the past for complaining about waiting for me while I ran around the house getting jackets and snacks and shoes for everyone? Sure, they need to learn patience but don’t we all? Aren’t I still learning it? Don’t perhaps my boys deserve a bit more of my patience with them as they learn patience and the art of waiting?

Waiting is hard. Again I’ve learned to manage it. But for kids, well in my experience it just makes them ask more questions, be more hyper, listen less, sleep less.

And as a parent all those feelings kids express around waiting can let’s face it…get EXHAUSTING. Especially now with Christmas 15 days away. The questions of when is Christmas and the extra hyper around because my boys can’t wait, literally and figuratively, well, it has me ready to snap!

I want to yell: “Look at the calendar! We have 15 days to wait!!!”
I want to yell: “No it isn’t Christmas. Go back to bed!”
I want to yell: “Don’t you know how to patiently be patient?!”

But instead of yelling I am going to choose empathy.
I am going to remember just how much I HATE waiting. 

And as for me and how I am going to handle waiting these few days. I’m just going to wake up each day and “practice patience” by enjoying the moment. I am going to focus on the moment as best as I can. I am going to hug lots. Laugh lots. Pay attention lots. I am going to play lots and stay distracted so I don’t watch the clock or the phone. I’m going to enjoy the wait. I am going to dance in the rain.

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass...

It will be hard. But I won’t let it make me waste the time that I do have. Right now. And I certainly won’t let it make me yell at my kids because I’m in a bad mood or yell at them because they are tired of waiting for Christmas. I’ll embrace the wait, the good and the bad of it. Because I get it.

Waiting is hard.

Prioritizing my Husband

306 days without yelling, 59 days of loving more to go!

Dear Green Turtle,

People are going to wonder what this post has to do with not yelling. Here’s the thing: when I feel disconnected to you, when I feel like we are two ships passing in the night because of the stress of raising young kids, I get more snippy and much more likely to yell. When you and I are in a good place, it is easier to not yell. Today, super easy to not yell because I remembered that you count too!

The Orange Rhino

*

It was the Summer of 2010. My oldest was almost four and our third son was almost one. My husband and I were debating whether or not we would or should go for a fourth. We did a lot of soul searching that summer, both together and separate. My husband did his soul searching, pondering if he could handle four kids, while playing video games. I did mine, I know I want four kids but can our marriage handle four kids, everywhere and anywhere.I spent countless hours thinking: when I woke up, in the shower, driving here and there, when the kids were bathing, before I went to sleep and any second there was quiet in the house.

Why so much thinking? Truthfully? Because we were in what I thought was maybe? more than a marriage rut and I was worried. I was worried about where we were headed and that naturally made questioning a fourth child, well, kind of silly, no? But through my soul searching and talking with different people I realized that my concerns about my marriage weren’t abnormal and that they were in fact what a lot of couples experienced when children came along.

Disconnected. Tired. Out of sync. Unenthusiastic. Why? Because so much of their free time was spent not necessarily with each other as a couple, but either as a family or focusing on just the kids. And let me tell you, with three kids in 3 years, and my husband’s work schedule, this was most definitely our situation. We hadn’t fallen out of love as I often worried, we had just fallen off each other’s radar because every spare moment was about “survival.” It was about keeping diapers changed, mouths fed, hearts comforted, tears dried, fights avoided.  We let our couple-dom get lost, we let it become de-prioritized. It wasn’t intentional. It truly wasn’t. It just happened. We stopped focusing on us and only focused on the kids. Are they happy? What do they need? We stopped asked are we happy? What do we need (besides sleep and peace and quiet)?  I stopped making him a priority. All my free time was for the kids, then myself, and then sleep. (This is perhaps over the top, but you get the idea). Oh Orange Rhino, not good!

As I slowly started to realize this I had a huge epiphany. I love birthdays, always have, always will. My mom made my birthday’s incredibly special and as such I have dreamed to do the same for my boys. So for each birthday I spend HOURS and I mean hours planning. I find hours that I don’t even know exist. I go out of my way to find time creating the perfect birthday invitations, by scratch. 10 hours, easy. Finding the perfect plates, napkins, decorations, 2 hours. Searching for the perfect favors and party games, 2 hours. Baking and decorate the perfect cake, 10 hours. That is 24 hours. 24 hours per child.

And then comes my Husband’s Birthday. Before kids I would spend a couple hours thinking about what to do, where to go, what to buy him and then spend 2 to 3 hours making one creative thing to keep as a memory over the years. Maybe 4 to 5 hours total.

And now? The big aha? I spent max 45 minutes. For my kids I jumped through hoops to show them my love on their special day. For my husband? Not so much anymore. Awful. Just awful. The summer of 2010 I realized that I was marginalizing my husband. He deserved more than 45 minutes of preparation for his birthday. He deserved to know that I would go out of my way to make time and effort to make his day special, just as I would my sons. He deserved to know that they weren’t more important than him; but that all my boys are important to me. And always will be.

From that summer on, I have started making sure my husband’s birthday gets as much love, energy, and creativity as I would give to my sons. No, I don’t spend hours on invitations, but now instead of buying a cake at the grocery store last minute, I make him a cake just as I would my sons. And this year, my sons joined in the creativity and helped planned all the details of the day. It. Was. Awesome. The theme? Green Turtle, green everything. Daddy got balloons just like them, a green tablecloth, kazoos for party favors, polka dotted birthday plates, and got to enter a kitchen this morning “decorated” with green streamers. Everywhere.

Cake designed by the boys. #1 suggested we needed a beach so we smashed Graham Crackers. #2 said I needed to write Green Turtle instead of daddy. #3 said the turtle needed eyes and #4 just kept eating the frosting.

It was a fantastic day, despite the headaches from the kazoo chorus. It was fantastic to feel so connected to my boys and my husband. It was fantastic to see him light up at the sight of his personalized cake. It was fantastic to see the boys take joy in celebrating their daddy.

It was fantastic to have realized three summers ago that I had started prioritizing my kids over my husband and that I could change that at any minute and that that change could bring much greater joy to my life.

“I’m not afraid”

304 days without yelling, 61 days of loving more to go!
Favorite Song Friday #6 

Dear Eminen,

I can NOT believe I am quoting you on my blog. I do not consider myself one who likes rap. At all. In fact, I strongly dislike most of it (and most of your lyrics in this song for that matter!) But back in January when I just started this Challenge, I heard this song on the radio and it has stuck with me since. So much of it resonated with where I was at before, where I was then, and where I have been since. I received a lot of doubt when I shared this idea of mine (understandably) and have since received a fair amount of criticism: you’re a lazy parent for not yelling, your kids are not doubt spoiled by your “softness.” This song reminds me to disregard the doubt and the criticism. To stand strong. To not be afraid. To shoot for the moon.

Word?
The Orange Rhino

*

Eminen, “I’m Not Afraid” <no video as it was um, too, um, colorful?! But hopefully you know the tune and can hum along.>

Lyrics first, followed by my “interpretation”

I’m not afraid, I’m not afraid.
To take a stand, to take a stand…
Yeah, it’s been a ride
Everybody, everybody, I guess I had to,
Come take my hand, come take my hand,Go to that place to get to this one.
We’ll walk this world together through the storm. Now some of you.
Whatever weather, cold or warm. Might still be in that place.
Just lettin’ you know that you’re not alone. If you’re tryin’ to get out.
Holla if you feel like you’ve been down the same road.
Just follow me, I’ll get you there.


‘Cause ain’t no way I’ma let you stop me from causing mayhem
When I say I’ma do something, I do it, I don’t give a damn what you think
I’m doin’ this for me… I’ma be what I set out to be, without a doubt, undoubtably
And all those who look down on me, I’m tearing down your balcony
No if, ands, or buts, don’t try to ask him why or how can …
I’m not afraid, I’m not afraidTo take a stand, to take a standEverybody, everybodyCome take my hand, come take my hand…
And to the fans, I’ll never let you down again, I’m back…
All I’m tryin’ to say is get back, click clack, pow’ Cause I ain’t playin’ around, it’s the game called circlin’ I don’t know how, I’m way too rough to back down…
And I just can’t keep living this way
So starting today, I’m breaking out of this cage
I’m standing up, I’ma face my demons I’m manning up, I’ma hold my ground
I’ve had enough, now I’m so fed up
Tryin’ to put my life back together right now
It was my decision to get clean, I did it for me
Admittedly, I probably did it subliminally for you…you helped see me through
And don’t even realize what you did, believe me you
…’Cause the way I feel, I’m strong enough to go to the club Or the corner pub and lift the whole liquour counter up’ Cause I’m raisin’ the bar, I shoot for the moon But I’m too busy gazin’ at stars I feel amazin’ 

*

I’m not afraid … to stand up and say that I think we can parent and discipline without yelling. I’m not afraid to try and change. Perhaps afraid it will be hard and I’ll “fail” but that ain’t gonna stop me.

Come take my hand … we will learn to change together. Sincerely. Together. This isn’t my challenge, my blog, it is all ours.

Holla if you feel like you’ve been down the same road … PLEASE HOLLA LOUDLY! We all feel better when we know we aren’t the only ones struggling. Holla loudly and find comfort!

When I say I’m gonna do something … please just believe in me, don’t belittle me and P.S. if you do belittle me, it just fires me up to do even better.

I just can’t keep living this way … feeling awful that I scream so, hiding my shame and struggles. I want to be free.

I’m breaking out of this cage, starting today … And taking on The Challenge!

You helped see me through … all 630 of you! and gratitude ain’t even the word.

I’m shooting for the moon…and I feel amazin’ … because taking a stand, trying to change, pushing through, seeing the stars, feels beyond amazin’!

Code Orange Rhino.

Ahhhhhh. That was a deep breath. Like a really, big, super-ginormous  ridiculously huge deep breath. What a 10 days.  First “seizure week” then “stomach bug week.” What a doozer. I feel absolutely wiped. But feel awake again after getting this novel, this pain, off my chest. Now, I can move on. Until Monday.

*

We entered the hospital last Thursday morning and all was going well.

Little man wasn’t thrilled to have 25+ wires attached to his head to measure for seizure activity, but he, we were managing. We had dance parties, read books, played with blocks and threw hospital food (can you blame him?) Friday morning came fast even after a rather crappy night of hospital sleep (he didn’t want to sleep, I couldn’t sleep) and I geared up for the harder day – a day of not eating so that little man could have an MRI at 3:30. An MRI to rule out brain tumor, brain damage, or a brain abnormality. While the previous tests were important, this was the test most important to me. This was the test that SCARED me. This was the test that I wanted done and over with. Not just because it meant sedating my sweet, young son, but because the unknown results were keeping me from feeling calm.

Party at my crib! 9:00, 2+ hours past bedtime!

Somehow the day turned out to be very easy. After a few attempts by little man to find food in my bag, he settled down and actually was rather quiet all day, even laying down on the floor numerous times to rest. I just assumed he was lethargic from no food and drink. I kept mentioning it to the nurses because I thought it was odd but no one thought it mattered. Let’s just say that mother’s instinct that he was OFF was RIGHT.

3:00 came and little man ever so gracefully let the nurse insert his IV. Not. One. Tear. That of course made me tear up like mad as I was so proud of him for being such a trooper. The wheelchair rolled in and I hopped in with little man in my lap (held perhaps more tightly than ever before), and we began our trek to the dreaded MRI. Even though blood tests and the EEG (test for seizure activity) were good to date and I should be relieved I still feared the MRI.

A rather unpleasant nurse greeted us and felt it necessary to keep trying to make little man smile. Instead, she just made him cry every time she talked and put her face in his, practicallytouching it. And she DIDN’T. GET. THE. HINT.

Just leave him alone, please!!  Let him be in peace.  Leave us in peace. We are nervous and tired, let us be.

The more pleasant anesthesiologist entered and peppered me with questions.

“When is the last time he ate?”

“9:00” I answered.

“What! He shouldn’t have eaten past 7!” barked the nurse.

“It’s okay. It will be okay.” replied the anesthesiologist politely.

He then proceeded to have me sign my name on a form stating that x,y,z, and vomit are risks of anesthesia. And then just as I got up to place little man on the stretcher for sedation he VOMITED all over me, all over himself, all over the nasty nurse.

“Oh my god. What a mess!“  the nurse, who works in a hospital, a place where people go when they are SICK, said in my direction.

“I just followed my doctor’s instructions. Please get me a towel.” I replied quietly, shocked by what she had said, sad for my little man, discouraged that the test would be delayed, that we would have to repeat the nerves, again.

The anesthesiologist returned and I looked at him and immediately the stress hit me. I burst into tears and mumbled “please, please just tell me that he didn’t throw up because of a brain tumor or something in his brain. Please. I beg you.”

“I can’t answer that. We’ll get answers soon though. Let’s clean you guys up.”

We then had the pleasure of the nasty nurse pushing us back upstairs, had the pleasure of listening to her continue to talk about how little man shouldn’t have eaten all morning. Really. Really??? Was she blaming me? Didn’t she know that babies sometimes get sick? That perhaps the stress of the situation got to him? Who did she think she was? She was luckily then interrupted by the booming voice on the intercom.

“CODE WHITE. CODE WHITE. CODE WHITE Room 621.”

I had heard a lot of Code Reds and Code Blues the last 24 hours. Being in a hospital is as unnerving as it is, then hearing code colors called out left and right is just enough to put you over the edge. I nervously asked the nurse what a code white was. Get this.

“It’s code that a parent is losing control. That they are yelling, throwing things, hitting doctors. When you hear code white you just get out of the way immediately.”

I then had a nice conversation, with me, myself, and I.

“You mean, a parent is feeling what I am starting to feel inside because of you? Oh I feel for them. It’s a good thing you are pushing faster to get us out of the way as I might be the next Code White.”

We arrived at the Pediatrics floor and the nurse laid into my doctor about how this was everyone’s fault. After she left I tried desperately to find out if the test would be re-scheduled and for when? Could I finally feed my baby? Give him fluids?

SOMEONE PLEASE ANSWER ME!

It took an hour. An hour before I was given the green light to give him food as we were re-scheduled for 8:00 the next morning.  One sip of water, thrown up, 5 cheerios thrown up, I discovered the reason for the delay.

The nurse REFUSED to answer the phone to re-schedule him since it was “our fault.”

WAIT. It gets better.

As little man hadn’t eaten all day and couldn’t keep anything down we hooked him up to IV fluids. My sweet boy fell asleep in my arms immediately; only to toss and turn and be up ALL night as every time he moved he set off the IV machine alarm.

We didn’t sleep a wink Friday night. Not. A. Wink. Which made me a really cheery site Saturday morning.

The wheelchair came again, and again the fear of putting my young baby under anesthesia gripped my body. I stayed as calm as I could, even sang a few lullabyes as we were rolled down the long, cold, start hallways to calm us both. Little man snuggled tight, gripping me. He knew what was up.

We were greeted by HER. The nurse who really, well, perhaps shouldn’t be a nurse.

A new young anesthesiologist came out and began questioning me, again. His conclusion?

“It is too risky to put him under anesthesia. Should he throw up while in the MRI there is no way to tell until a few minutes too late. The vomit might go in his lungs and he could choke and well, it wouldn’t be good. The other hospital has better equipment for sedating young kids.”

“Okay” I said. “I trust your judgment and certainly don’t want to take that risk. What a shame though. It means going home and then waiting weeks for an appointment and then having to experience this stress all over again and pricking my son with another needle. I get it. Just disappointed.”

No tears fell. But my heart fell. Way down deep and discouragement stepped up. When will I get answers I thought? What if he has another seizure? When will I stop worrying? My deep thoughts were interrupted by the nurse.

She wanted to be empathetic. I know she did. I could tell by the fact that she sat down next to me and started with “I know you are disappointed.” She should have stopped there. IMMEDIATELY. What she said next still haunts me. And will probably bring me to tears for years.

“You know, I was up at 5 am this morning booking this. I am as annoyed as you are.” (Yeah? I was up at 5 too. Because my BABY who is in the hospital couldn’t  sleep and PS that’s your job.)

“And well, I have been picking pieces of vomit out of my clothes and shoes and even in my lab jacket since yesterday.” (Yeah? This is a hospital. People throw up. You went home to a shower and clean clothes. I went to a sink and scrubs.)

And then the kicker. Which maybe to most people is fine, but to me, a mom, under major stress and fear and all sorts of emotions, it didn’t sit well at all.

“You know, they called to re-schedule yesterday but I was too angry to answer. I refused to for an hour. And now, well, now I just keep saying how lucky we were that he threw up when he did. You know 30 seconds later and he would have been sedated and he would have choked on his vomited and wouldn’t have been able to breathe and we wouldn’t have known and it would have been minutes if not longer before we knew and just WOW it would have been beyond awful. Your guy could have been so unsafe. We were 30 seconds from being in a really dangerous situation, a grave situation.”

Thank you nurse. Thank you for telling me, what I knew. I knew it was a miracle. I knew how lucky we were, how dangerous it could have been. But guess what? I didn’t need to relive it step by step. I don’t need to know that my son was 30 seconds away from well, something I can’t write. I am stressed enough and sick to my stomach with fear that he has something in his brain. Because even though 2 tests were fine, my mommy gut isn’t. So no, no I don’t want to hear about how close we were to what, potentially causing brain damage or harming him. So thank you, please, BE QUIET.  I thank exhaustion and shock and disappointment for keeping these thoughts IN my head.

“Well, yes, it was a miracle and I am glad it worked out” I said softly and started singing to little man who was falling asleep hoping that maybe, maybe she would leave me alone. She got the hint. Another miracle.

We arrived back at our floor and the nurses looked at me with shock, question, confusion.

“Denied.” I said. Denied an MRI. Denied respect. Denied support. Denied empathy. Denied. Denied. Denied. Granted FEAR. Lots of it. Tears rolled down my cheeks as we were rolled back into our room.

I settled little man into his crib (which by the way, looks more like a cage) and I lost it. I started texting a friend about my fury then stopped.

No. It wasn’t right. I wasn’t going to stay silent. She shouldn’t have told me all she did. She shouldn’t have complained about the vomit, or the job, the situation, her anger and she certainly crossed the line telling me not once, not twice, but three times that my son was so close to being harmed.

I went straight out to the hallway and asked the staff who I share a complaint with, immediately.

I told my story and the tears fell. And fell and fell. They fell from relief that he was safe. They fell from deep sadness that he might not have been. They fell from stress that I would be back. The fell from physical and emotional exhaustion. They fell from anger.

Code “ORANGE RHINO”.

No code white, but code “Orange Rhino.” I didn’t raise my voice. I didn’t yell. I didn’t scream. I even went so far as to say that I know the nurse meant well but that perhaps communicating wasn’t her strength and that perhaps she didn’t need reprimand, just teaching. I didn’t lose it, I didn’t hit Code White. And I am so grateful. Because code ORANGE RHINO – handling anger with warmth, feels so much better and actually made people want to help me.

The nurses kept checking on me the rest of the day and bringing me tissues. They offered support and true empathy. They said thank you for staying calm. You see, using kind words when angry, it has a much better chance of helping you. Yelling, mean words, it does you no good. Sure it might get your point made, but does it inspire positive action? Does it inspire people to WANT to help you? No. Nice words though, or words delivered with respect, they at least stand a chance. Sure, they might not get you an immediate response, but over time, there is much greater upside.

I got a call today from the manager of the Children’s Hospital. Apparently my kind words had made quite an impact. The manager called to hear my story of what happened and ultimately apologized profusely saying that there is no way she would accept or tolerate one her staff treating her patients that way. I again said that I know that nurse meant well but that well, it SCARED ME. It scared the sh*t out of me to hear someone verbally talk about what bad could have been. And with all the stress, I just didn’t need it. I went on to say on top of it all, now I have to wait one month, ONE MONTH, to get an MRI. One month to know that my son is okay. Because he will be okay. That is the only answer.

“Oh that is frustrating. I am going to call right now and see if we can’t change that. You’ve been through enough. You don’t need to be waiting a month” she said sweetly. I liked her. She was sincere, empathetic, calm, and caring. She made me feel okay to be anger and scared. She made it safe.

I got a call at 2:43 today. Little Man’s MRI has been moved up to Monday.  Monday folks. This is GREAT news. It is 24 days earlier. It means no waiting until January 3rd. It means by the middle of next week I will have the answers I need to sleep a little better. It means we can move on sooner than later.

I TRULY owe this to my code Orange Rhino, to the Orange Rhino Challenge. If I had lost it and yelled, do you think the nurses would have been inclined to share my story? If I had lost it and been rude with the Manager, do you think she would have been moved to make the calls on my behalf? Maybe, maybe not. But I am going to say, YES.

Kind words matter. Nasty ones, they just do no good. They don’t get you anywhere. Well, they do. They get you nowhere, fast. So choose kind words. I can’t imagine you will ever regret it.  I know I don’t.

* I don’t hold anyone responsible for what happened except maybe the Stomach Bug. While this experience was frustrating and disheartening, all the other care I received was great and again, the nurse had good intentions just perhaps needs some teaching. You know. Kind of like my boys who I often get frustrated with :) And while the situation isn’t what I would have chose, I am grateful for yet another opportunity to put The Orange Rhino Challenge benefits to the test. 

YLLM1* * * Discover all the ways taking The Orange Rhino Challenge has changed my life beyond how I handled this situation in my just released book, “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at her Kids–and How You Can Too!” available at many bookstores and online stores like Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Qbookshop, IndieBound, Indigo Canada, Bookish