“30 Days to Yelling Less Project” Round 3! Sign up by Sunday, June 2nd at 5:00 E.S.T.

NOTE: I am so glad that you have found this blog post! I have CLOSED registration for this Project. Please join my Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/TheOrangeRhino or follow my blog to see when I lead another one. Thank you for your interest and best of luck on your journey to yelling less! 

Many of you have asked me to lead another “30 Days to Yelling Less Project.” Oh have I been wanting to but the timing just hasn’t been right. Well now is the time! School is about to get out for many of our children, which means more time spent together and more opportunities to have fun together and more opportunities to practice not yelling! I for one know that I love the summer but that all the togetherness can be overwhelming at times; this is the perfect time for me to look at my own triggers again and set myself up for a “Yell Less, Love More” summer!

Here are the details about “The Orange Rhino’s 30 Days to Yelling Less Project.”

BACKGROUND:
When I first decided to commit to 365 days straight of not yelling I was overwhelmed. How on earth was I going to do just that? I didn’t know how to not yell, it had been a crutch for years; it was my go to! All I knew was that I truly, deeply wanted to stop yelling and that I needed support to do so. In the first few weeks, I found success not only with the help of The Orange Rhino™ Community but also in a few particular steps that I took, unknowingly. These steps, along with the support of others, helped me to get through day 1, and then day 5, day 10, day 30 all the way until day 365.

I know that many of you want to start The Challenge of committing to yell less but are intimidated by the enormity of it, by the stress of it, by the sheer commitment to it. I know many of you, like me, don’t know where to start!

So let me break it down for you. Let me help get you going on The Orange Rhino Challenge™ by walking you through the steps I took in the early stages. Let me spread it out over 30 days and help you YELL LESS AND LOVE MORE™. Let me lead you through my 3rd “30 Days to Yelling Less and Loving More Project.”

PROJECT DETAILS:

  • TIMING: The first day is this MONDAY, JUNE 3, 2013. The 30th day is Tuesday, July 2nd 
  •  SIGN UP: Sign up BY SUNDAY, JUNE 2nd at 5:00 EST — SIGN UP IS NOW CLOSED. 

Please note: If you have emailed me prior to May 29, 2013 about this challenge, you are all signed up! Read below for details, but you do not need to click on the above link and re-subscribe; all you have to do is get excited.

To ensure that you get the most out of the 30 days, I cannot take names after this date. I am so sorry – I want to set everyone up for as much success as possible and starting on Day 1 matters. If you do miss the deadline though, please do join the FB community at www.Facebook.com/TheOrangeRhino for tips, support, and news about a fall Challenge.

  • Every weekday morning (EST), and weekends when appropriate, I will email all participants inspirational quotes, thoughts/goals and actions for the day, for example, Day 1: Think about what moment made you realize you needed to stop yelling.
  • The 30 days are broken down into approximately 10 days of preparation/practice and 20 days of yelling less. I want everyone to feel successful – we all have enough stress on our plates to feel otherwise from this effort! The first 10 days are there to set everyone up for as much success and positive feelings as possible!

OTHER KEY POINTS:

  • I encourage you to join our Facebook page www.Facebook.com/TheOrangeRhino so that you can share about your successes and get support from others. I also encourage you to write in the private blog posts included in the daily emails. Sharing is the key part – this is where we can all learn from each other and support each other. Most likely, this is where you will realize you are NOT ALONE.
  • As this is only the 3rd time I have ever done this (and as I am NOT a professional,) we will adjust how I help you accordingly!

The simple part is how this will work. The hard part is well, the work; it’s challenging ourselves to change. It’s accepting that you might have to look deep at yourself, not your kids, to stop yelling. Or more eloquently put:

“When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.”
~Viktor E. Frankl

Or as one of my favorite authors said:

“Things do not change; we change.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

Change is hard. It can be scary and intimidating. And changing a bad habit can be an out right pain the a*s. But this change is worth it. The upside is enormous: a more peaceful life, less mama guilt, a stronger, more trusting and loving relationship with your kids, greater self awareness, a lighter heart, or the list goes on and on. But don’t let me tell you what I’ve gained, go gain it all for yourself and tell me about how you are YELLING LESS AND LOVING MORE on July 2nd, 2013.

Am I an expert who knows what the heck she is doing with this idea? NOPE. (Let me make sure I spelled that right. N.O.P.E.) But I am going to try my hardest to share with you what I did and break down learning not to yell into really easy, simple, steps. And I am going to keep all my fingers and toes crossed that it helps you!

 

“Terrifyingly Satisfying”

476 days of loving more

We took our boys to an amusement park this past weekend. Family adventures always bring mixed emotions for me. On one hand, I feel excitement about getting out of the house together and doing something fun. On the other hand, oftentimes the larger hand, I feel nervousness about being out of the house together and having to keep an eye on everyone!  Watching four kids six and a half and under in a crowded, public place is out right exhausting and hard. My neck doesn’t stop turning looking for four identical shirts and my head doesn’t stop counting 1-2-3-4-check. Certain family adventures definitely scare me: the park, the pool, the mall. After I have conquered any of those adventures I feel such pride, such satisfaction, such “oh-my-gosh-we-did-it-yeah-for-us-now-lets-take-a-nap!”

Luckily this past Sunday’s adventure my parents came along so the kid to adult ratio was 1:1 making it a less scary experience and way more satisfying. I actually got to fully enjoy watching my children scream with glee on their first “roller coaster” ride’ I actually got to fully enjoy hearing them laugh as they jumped in the bounce house; and I actually got to fully enjoy seeing them smile as they “won” “Wac-A-Mole.” They loved every ride, every game, and every food treat they got spoiled with that day. Of course darling #4 was less than pleased that he had to be an observer for the most part, but he found joy in snuggling with his Papa Smurf he “won” at Skeeball.

The highlight of the day totally caught me off guard. There was this one ride where you lie on your stomach and get strapped in. You then spin around and around, up and down. Looking at it I just wanted to throw up. #1 and #2 just got over their fear of rides this very Sunday so the thought of them wanting to try this shocked me. The fact that daddy and grandpa were willing to do it with them shocked me even more!!!

They all strapped in and I prepared for the worst – to be cleaning up vomit and changing outfits. Thankfully, that was so not the case. Everyone, well except for grandpa, smiled and laughed the entire time. They had a blast. When the ride ended the boys went over to help grandpa out. He took one look at them and said: “Boys, that was terrifying!”

“No it wasn’t! It was sooo much fun! Let’s do it again!” Screamed #1.

“Grandpa it was great! Scardy pants!” Yelled #2.

And then #1 ran over to me laughing “Mommy, mommy, that was great but grandpa was, um, um, Grandpa what were you?”

“TERRIFIED.”

“Right, terrified. Grandpa was terrified. But I wasn’t. I was so brave. Cool, huh, mom?” #1 said. He was so proud of himself. So was I.  So was I.

Later in the car #1 wanted to tell the story again…how Grandpa was terrified, but that he wasn’t.

“Remember mommy, I was brave and what was Grandpa???” and then a big pause. “Right, he was satisfied.”

“You mean terrified,” I gently replied.

We had this same exchange four or five more times that day. #1 kept saying Grandpa was “satisfied” and I kept saying that he meant “terrified.”

After the last exchange, a smile crept over my face. This Freudian slip of my son’s, saying satisfied instead of terrified, was the new highlight of my day. It made me think of all the times I have been terrified, only to end up feeling immensely satisfied because I faced my “fear/discomfort” and managed it.

I was terrified to get up on a stage and be a live auctioneer for the first time… and now I am more than satisfied with how much I raised for the American Cancer Society.

I was terrified to move from New England to North Carolina where we had no family or friends…and now I look back and am more than satisfied that I learned to adjust to an entirely new place.

I was terrified to learn that we were pregnant with #3 when #2 was just seven months old…and now I am more than satisfied that they are so close in age.

And of course, I was TERRIFIED to start The Orange Rhino Challenge. Terrified. Terrified that I would fail. Terrified at how hard it would be. Terrified that I wouldn’t be able to keep up writing. Terrified at what people would think about my “yelling truth.” Terrified that even though I was starting now, that I was already too late to change the so called damage I had done to the relationship with my boys.

Terrified. Plain terrified.

But I did it. I took on a fear; I took on an uncomfortable situation, and now I feel more than satisfied. I feel proud, joyful, and grateful. You see, I am generally a risk adverse person. I avoid situations that I think I won’t like, but really want to engage in. I avoid situations where I think I won’t succeed. I avoid situations where I might succeed, or even like, but just don’t want to take the small risk that I could be wrong.  And I avoid situations that scare me.

Yes, some situations I avoid are legitimate. Poisonous snakes for one. Dark alleys for two. But avoiding situations because I fear I will fail, or won’t be liked, or won’t do well enough, is that really legitimate? Does that bring me satisfaction or regret? Is that really how I want to live my life? (Yes, those are rhetorical questions….)

There are so many situations I have avoided to date because of fear; so many situations that I look back on and say, “shoot, I wish I had just found the guts and gave it a try, or I wish I found the guts to not quit.” This challenge is one of the big times in my life that I have faced major discomfort and at the same time major desire to face said discomfort and actually not walked away. What if I had walked away? What if I had avoided my yelling problem because of my fear of failing, because of all my fears associated with starting?

Then I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be calling myself an Orange Rhino.

Gosh am I glad I didn’t walk away from fear this time. Gosh I am so glad that I can say, “I am glad that I tried.”

Yes, my journey to yell less has been terrifying at times. Why I am sharing so much with the world? How do I handle this unknown parenting situation without losing it? I have succeeded, but how do I ensure I keep all the positive change going? And yes, there have been and will continue to be terrifying moments. But more so, much more so, it has been a satisfying experience to say the least. In fact, the extent to which it has changed my life, the extent at which it has changed me, the extent to which it has been gratifying, well, that extent in itself is so large that it is terrifyingly satisfying.

One Truth About Asking For Help

Welcome to all the new Orange Rhinos! I am so happy that you have found this Community! Before you read this post, you might want to read the following posts (hyper-linked by the way): {Sometimes} Marriage Makes Me Want to Yell, Oh Motherhood, Sometimes You Break My Heart, I Got Knocked Down, and Happy Days! While they are not necessary to get the point of this post, they might provide some key background info!

Dear Orange Rhinos,

As you all know, I have had no problem telling you all lots of my big “truths.”
There is the obvious first truth I shared about my yelling problem.
Then there were the truths about my struggles with my boys’ individual challenges.
Then there was the truth about the boulder in my marriage.
And of course along the way, I have shared indirectly about some of my challenges.

I have written about how I struggle with finding patience. I have written about how I struggle to keep my expectations of my boys, and myself, in check. I have written about how I struggle to let things go. I have written about how I struggle with my self-image, both from a weight perspective and an “am I a good enough” mom, wife, friend, person perspective.

I have always felt better after I wrote about my personal struggles, and then felt better yet after I found the courage to post them. Ironically, while writing hides my face and my voice, it has never once hidden my true emotions. Writing somehow always forces me to open up, to dig deeper, to figure out what is going on in my head, good or bad. Writing takes my “insanity” and makes it “clarity” to steal from a current song. Writing keeps me honest. Writing keeps me real. I can’t hide from myself when I write. The truth begs to be released from my mind and into my fingers once I sit down to the computer.

So what do I do when I sit down to write and am filled with fear because I don’t want to admit to the truth? (A) Write about my writing silence and that I am struggling but not be totally upfront. (B) Write that I am trying to get back up and write again. (C) Write that I am no longer knocked down, so to speak.

Answer? A, B, and C. I wrote about all of the above in two posts, Am I Good Enough? and Happy Days. I have to say, I have struggled with writing ever since the Happy Days post. I wrote that post to try and feel better. I wrote that post because I didn’t want anyone to think that I was still down. I wrote that post because I didn’t want to believe that I was still down. I wrote that post in hopes that it would make my insanity, clarity.

While that post was true, it also felt like a lie. Because I left so much out. Which I know is okay, but still, because my writing is my place where I am real, I felt like I was lying to me and well even to you. And I don’t like lying. It doesn’t feel good. And I especially don’t like lying to myself; that is perhaps even harder and more uncomfortable than telling the truth because the lie just festers and doesn’t stand a chance to be resolved.

I have learned many things during my journey to not yell; a big one has been that the more honest I am with myself about any personal struggles, the easier it is for me to take charge of them, instead of them taking charge of me and pushing me to yell.

But lately, the honesty hasn’t been so pretty and it has been taking charge of me.

I have been hiding from my struggles by not writing. I have been making sure that just about no one knew how I was really doing, myself included! All this hiding and not being totally honest with myself is simply creating a sense of stress that is unbearable; a sense of stress that makes it hard to be the mom, the person I want to be; a sense of stress that makes it so much more tempting to yell! When I have done the 30-days to yelling less challenge, I have asked people to own up, like really own up to the hard personal stuff so that it can be addressed and improved and not act as a catalyst for yelling. Perhaps I should take my own advice?

Um, yes, most definitely.

So tonight I will do just that. I promise that the next paragraphs will be hard, uncomfortable, embarrassing and risky. I guarantee that I will hit “post” and worry that I have again written a post that turns people off because I came across too negative and too down, but I need to share my truths because I can no longer sit with the personal lie. I need to embrace the truths that I am struggling with so that I can struggle less with staying calm with my beautiful boys.

The truth is, I have been having panic attacks for a few weeks now. This is new to me. I have never felt them before. A few times I have thought I was having a heart attack. One was so bad that I actually had my husband note what time it started. I didn’t realize what it was at the time; I thought I was just out of shape. I was wrong. I don’t like having panic attacks; I don’t like that my stress is so that I am having them either.

The truth is, I am constantly feeling overwhelmed and under pressure. Some of it is self-afflicted; some of it is the reality of my life right now. I am working on embracing the latter half, accepting that it is okay and normal to feel a wee bit overwhelmed as a mom at times and that it is normal to feel overwhelmed by the current big stressors in my life. I am also working on not being so hard on myself for feeling overwhelmed!

The truth is, I am exhausted. I am not just exhausted from my literal insomnia, but exhausted from working so hard in all three major pillars of my life at the same time: parenthood, marriage, and me-hood. I know many people will think, “well shoot, life isn’t supposed to be so hard, you are doing something wrong.” And I know many people will say, “well shoot, of course life can be hard, that is when the good stuff happens, you are doing something right.” And I am guessing that the answer lies somewhere in the middle. And I am also guessing that the answer will come in due time, that I just need to be patient.

The truth is, there are only so many days in a row that I feel comfortable saying, “Mommy is having a really hard day,” or “Mommy is really tired that’s why she is grumpy” or “Mommy is sorry that she is so cranky today.” I don’t want my boys growing up telling tales of a yelling mommy…and I also don’t want them growing up telling tales of a mommy who had a hard day, every day. 

The truth is, I love my boys.

I love my four little orange rhinos in the making…

The truth is, I love my boys so much that…I asked for help. Which really was NOT an easy thing for me to do. In fact, it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do short of going through what I am right now. I like to believe, no wanted to believe, that I could handle all this stress on my own. I wanted to believe that if I did everything I have learned about keeping myself calm over the last 450+ days that I could get out of this funk. But it wasn’t working; NOT because what I learned was wrong, but because sometimes, I need to ask for help.

Two weeks ago I went to see a doctor to help with my newfound anxiety and insomnia. I am pleased to report that I am happily sleeping again and am starting to feel better.

Which I guess brings me to three other really important lessons I learned in my journey to yell less: I can’t do everything on my own, trying to do so will just stress me out and push me to yell, and most importantly, asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. 

 

*If you liked this post, you might also like…Truth or Dare 

Barely Hanging On

465 days of loving more all together, 36 days year 2

“But mommy, alllll my friends have lost a tooth, why haven’t I? It’s not fair. It’s so not fair. The tooth fairy will never come. I am so unlucky.”

This has been the standard statement shared passionately with me by my six and a half year old every night at bedtime for the past oh, I don’t know, eighteen months? Needless to say, the question has been getting old. But I get it. He wants to feel like a big kid like his friends. He wants to let go of his baby teeth. Okay, maybe I don’t totally get it because I don’t really want him to loose his baby teeth. I don’t really want him to be a big kid, but oh, I can’t deny his strong desire to grow up. I can’t deny the truth in his emotions; I can’t deny that growing up is going to happen; I can’t deny him the excitement of looking forward to loosing his first tooth just because I am not ready for the tooth fairy to be part of my life.

So every night for the past eighteen months or so, I have shared my somewhat standard statement,

“Oh buddy, I know. It is hard. But your teeth will come out when they are ready. Everyone is a little different and does things at different times and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you aren’t a big kid just because you haven’t lost a tooth. It will happen soon. I promise, it will.”

And it did. One promise I made finally came true. Last Saturday, out of the blue #1 came running up to me and said,

“Mommy, mommy, I finally have a loose tooth!!! See, see?!!”

I looked. And I looked.  And I even wiggled it with him. And I have to admit. I jumped up and down with excitement with him like I was a six year old losing my first tooth. I was so happy for him. Seeing the sparkle in his eyes, the pride on his face, the joy emanating from every aspect of him, it was, well, contagious. My baby was so happy. No, my big boy was so happy. A little bit of my heart cried, but mostly it felt the happiness.

It’s been a fun week, being on tooth watch and all. Everyday at school pick-up I’d ask,

“And, and? Do we still have all our teeth?”

He would joke and say, “Nope! I lost it! Just kidding mom, fooled ya!”

Today was no different except this time he asked me,

“Mommy, when is it ever going to fall out?”

“When it is ready. That tooth is teaching you patience. It is teaching you how to stay calm when super excited!”

“ARGH!” he grumbled and curdled up into his car seat.

Fast-forward three hours. All four boys and myself are hanging out in the doctor’s office waiting to check #4’s lungs. I use the term hanging out loosely; really we were all trying to not bump into each other and bother each other in the cramped space! The only thing hanging out was #1’s tooth. As he sat there, I said,

“Hey, let’s check out that tooth. Maybe we could have Dr. K pull it out while we are here?” I then looked at it, touched it ever so gently and changed my statement, “Hey #1, that tooth is going to fall out any moment. It is barely hanging on!!!”

The nurse came in and started doing stats and everything. #1 sat patiently on his chair; his tongue not so patient as it pushed the loose tooth back and forth, giving me the heebee jeebez.

“Hey Nurse L, I have a loose…”

PING!

“What was that?” asked Nurse L.

“MY TOOTH! MY TOOTH! Don’t move it is next to your foot!” he screeched as blood oozed out of his mouth.

And sure enough, this perfect little white tooth lay on the floor. We scooped up the tooth and carefully wrapped it in a homemade gauze pocket.

“#1, yes, you may hold your tooth in your pocket. BUT do not take it out. You are a big boy with big teeth coming in and this is a big responsibility.”

“I got it mommy,” he said.

I knew it was risky but he was so happy, proud, and excited. I just couldn’t deny him of that by holding the tooth. And besides, I have to let him grow up and learn. Well, I must say I think he grew up a lot today, and not just because he lost his tooth, but because he lost it twice. Driving home from the doctor, I heard a very feeble,

“Mommy, I didn’t listen. I took my pocket out of my pocket. And I dropped it in the worst place possible.”

I didn’t think that was possible. I mean I did, but really, REALLY?!!

“Did you take the tooth out of the pocket?” I asked nervously.

“What do you think?” he cried.

“Where is it?”

“In the worst place possible, I already told you.”

Trust me when I say, this is one hole in the car you don’t want to have to put your hand in. It collects EVERYTHING. Gross! The things we do for love….

And that my friends, was the truth. There was no denying it. You know that small, dark hole that is folds and folds of fabric where the seat belt recesses into? The dark hole that collects cheerios and spilled milk and dust and grossness over the years, and in this case, three years? The hole that you can barely get a finger in to scoop things out? Yeah, that hole. That is where the tooth fell.

I got home and immediately started trying to get it out. #1 sat on the driveway crying. I felt so incredibly bad for him I felt the loss too. My heart ached with him.

“Will you find it mommy? I can’t believe I lost my favorite tooth. Now the tooth fairy will never ever come! I’m so stupid!” he whaled.

Meanwhile, three other children climbed all over the back seat and me as I tried desperately to get the small tooth. Every time they moved, the tooth fell deeper into the hole. Every time I thought I had it, I pulled out a blooming Cheerio. Every time someone moved closer to me, I moved closer to yelling. Every time #1 whaled, I thought, “yeah, I told you to listen.” Every time I thought that, my heart ached because #1 is struggling right now with impulse control. Struggling. While this taught him a valuable lesson about controlling his impulses, it was the worst way to learn.

Again, my heart ached with his. And instead of being empathetic, I let all my sadness and stress about not being able to find his tooth get to me. I was barely hanging on to calm. His not listening to me in the first place, my struggle with the reality of his struggling with impulse control, my not being able to make his heart happy, well it all led me to say rather snapfully,

“You know #1, I told you this would happen. You didn’t listen.”

I didn’t yell, but my words were full of shame and I could tell that I only worsened his wound. I didn’t like the taste of my tone one bit; I didn’t like that I separated us at a moment when we both needed a hug. This was such a big milestone for both of us; we both wanted it to be all sweet and perfect and yet, I was anything but sweet. Given the situation, I could have, no should have, been a lot more loving. And I feel awful. I can’t take back what I said. I can just apologize, which I did, and forgive myself, which I am working on.

At the end of the day, I am not perfect and nor do I need to be. I just want more good moments than bad moments. And at the end of the day, I am grateful that I was there when he lost his tooth and that we shared a not good, but an incredible moment together. And I am grateful that I didn’t totally lose it and starting screaming (as I totally would have done pre-Orange Rhino Challenge) because in keeping my quasi-cool I was able to do some awesome mini-van surgery with my neighbor. Together, we figured out how to take apart the mini-van and shake that tooth lose.

Yes, we found that tooth.
Yes, my son and I cried together.
And yes, we were both barely hanging on today for different reasons, both individually and with each other, but ultimately we found each other and that, despite the momentary gory details, made it a great day.

Munchkin fell asleep dreaming of the tooth fairy. Can’t help but wonder if he would have fallen asleep as happy if I had completely yelled and screamed at him over his mistake?

My Notes to Two Strangers

Dear Dad & Daughter at the restaurant tonight,

I apologize for listening to your entire conversation tonight. Yes, I completely, utterly 110% eavesdropped to every word you shared for thirty minutes. I just couldn’t help it. I heard one line and I was hooked. Your conversation was beautiful. It was inspiring, touching, heartbreaking, scary and affirming. Thank you for being in the right place at the right time. I needed to hear your conversation tonight, so thank you.

All my best to you; may you both continue to talk to each other as you did tonight,
A Secret Admirer, a.k.a. The Orange Rhino

*

My doctor’s appointment wrapped up early tonight and I had thirty minutes before the babysitter had to leave. I haven’t had any me-time lately so I decided to seize the free chunk of time and the beautiful weather and go sit outside for a quick dinner.

I sat down and ordered a beer and nachos and soaked up the warm weather, the breeze, and the absolute peace and quiet. Of course it wasn’t really quiet. There was noise all around but none of it was that of my four children asking for another napkin, another crayon, another trip to the bathroom or another French fry so to me, it was perfectly quiet. It was so peaceful in fact that my supersonic hearing picked up on the conversation next to me.

A teenage girl, somewhere between eight and twelfth grade (it is so hard to tell these days, you know?) sat across from her father nervously playing with her napkin. By the information she shared it was clear that she didn’t live with her dad, that her parents were divorced and that this was her night with him. They talked easily yet with a bit of tension. But still, they talked. He asked poignant questions, she answered politely. I heard their voices but not their words until she said this,

“You know dad, at this conference thing kids were talking about how at parties you raid the medicine cabinets at your own home. You then bring all the drugs to the party and dump them into one big bowl. Everyone then takes a handful, or two, of the drugs, and then chugs two drinks. It is really, really stupid.”

I sat there, my beer in my hand; my mouth dropped open and tears filling my eyes. My heart pounded with fear, really? Really this is what kids do? How frightening! And really, really this daughter felt comfortable to talk about drugs and actions with her dad? How phenomenal. I sat there all confused except for one thought: “way to go dad!”

The conversation continued. She shared more about how she was making new friends, how she wasn’t so worried about being friends with the cool kids anymore, how she didn’t want to be in the wrong crowd, just a good crowd. He listened quietly and nodded appropriately and then replied to her brave sentiments of truth,

“I am really proud of you sweetheart. It is hard to make new friends. It is hard to turn away from bad situations. I am so proud of you.”

He must have said it at least three or four times. Again, tears filled my eyes and all I could think of was, “way to go dad!”

The conversation continued, this time focusing on her upcoming graduation. She mentioned that some girls were buying fancy dresses; that she didn’t really care about a puffy dress, that graduation wasn’t a big deal. Again, her dad listened sweetly and replied ever so lovingly,

“Graduation is a big deal. I am proud of you. Your mom can take you shopping for a dress if you want. Or even I can, after dinner. We could go to what’s that place, JC Penny’s or the place with the JC in it?”

“You mean J. Crew dad,” she laughed.

“Yeah, we could go there. I’m proud of you. It’d be an honor to get you a dress.”

“Nah, it’s okay,” she said, “I’ll just wear something from my closet.”

Their dinner arrived and silence commenced. I of course had to interrupt it; it was time for me to get going and while they had talked and connected, I had written both of them notes and wanted to hand deliver them.

You see, as I sat there listening to them, watching them both try so hard to connect, yet connect so easily, I just wanted them to know how awesome they were doing. I wanted the dad to know how fantastic it was that he had raised a daughter who felt comfortable talking about drugs and personal struggles with him. I wanted the daughter to know how fantastic it was that she had found the strength to turn down drugs, to turn away from a bad crowd, and to now be graduating. I wanted them both to know how much their honesty and lovingness reminded me of my promise not to yell; how I hoped to have such conversations in the future with my boys, how I knew remaining yell free was one key to achieve that.

(Okay, pardon the grammatical errors. I was nervous writing the notes!!!)

I looked down at the two notes I scribbled on dinner napkins. I pondered doing nothing. I pondered crumpling up the napkins and not saying a thing. I pondered minding my own business, wondering if I would rock the boat by saying anything. And then I thought how nice it feels to be paid a compliment. I decided that the risk was worth it. I reached into my wallet and put some money inside the note for the daughter. I wrote next to it:

“I have four boys. I will never buy a graduation dress for a daughter. I know your parents would love to do so for you; trust me, it is an honor for them. But let this be a little contribution towards it. You deserve a new dress to celebrate.”

I nervously pushed my chair back and walked to their table.

“Excuse me,” I said. “I apologize for listening to your conversation. But I was just really touched and so I wrote you each a note. I hope someday that my boys feel as comfortable talking to me as you all talked to each other tonight. Best of luck to you both.”

I quickly left the napkins and scurried off, praying they wouldn’t return the money or catch me crying.

Today had been a hard day, a throw-in-the-towel type of day, an I-can’t-do-this-parenting-thing type of day, an I-don’t-want-to-do-this-parenting-thing type of day, an I-just-want-to-freakin’-yell-and-be-mean type of day. There is a lot I didn’t want today. But, let me tell you, hearing this dad and daughter talk drugs and good crowds and bad crowds, well, I do want that type of thing in my future. Big time. I want my boys to feel safe talking to me about everything and I believe that having a “yelling less and loving more” home is a great way to get there. I have been having to worker harder with the not yelling bit lately; my stress has made it harder to stay calm and I have truly wanted to give up, or rather, give in to the desire to yell. But witnessing this beautiful conversation tonight, well, it reminded me of the what I can have if I continue to yell less and love more and for that, I am re-inspired (and grateful!)

If you liked this post, read “I Just Want The Truth” 

Work In Progress: Yelling

Dear Orange Rhinos,

Tonight I share with you a brave guest post by Melody, a fellow Orange Rhino. I have been saving it for the right time and tonight is that night! Sweet #4 (my seizure prone little one) is rocking a 104 fever along with bouts of coughing and wheezing. I so very much want to write about the anxiety I felt earlier at the doctors, then dinnertime, and then bedtime. I so very much want to write about how it (the ugly stress monster) tried so very hard to trigger me to yell. But alas, tonight has been spent in and out of his room checking on him so no writing. Let’s hope tomorrow night?!

I will share with you though that I won tonight; that I didn’t let my trigger get all trigger-happy! Take that anxiety and stress; this Orange Rhino knows how to talk herself out of yelling now. But it wasn’t always that way. Oh, no, it most certainly wasn’t. Melody recently sent me this link to one of her posts about her journey to yell less and love more. As I read it, I found myself thinking, yep, yup, oh yeah, I have been there, I have sooo been there. Tonight, I was practically there again. The intensity of all the crying and the chaos and the worry had me wanting to tear my hair out, maybe even tear my necklace off.

I think we have all been there. I took great comfort re-reading this post tonight, realizing I am not alone. So tonight, in lieu of writing, I share this piece from Melody that I bet many of us can all relate to in hopes that we all feel less alone on this journey.

All my best and thanks Melody,
The Orange Rhino

*

Wednesday WIP: Yelling
By Melody W.
March 13, 2013

I am prone to bouts of yelling. I’m just not perfect. I don’t recall there being any yelling in my home growing up. My parents had/have three kids so they did have to yell to get our attention at times. But I can’t recall excessive yelling. I have all good thoughts and feelings about my upbringing.

So where did it happen? When? Somewhere along the line after I moved out of the nest I started to yell. Violently. I just raged. I don’t know why it started if it wasn’t in my nature. Since I’ve left the nest I haven’t always been in the ideal of situations. Perhaps the anxiety of uncertainty pushed me to anger, which pushed me to rage. Anything would set me off.

In January, maybe it was the fifth? We went to look at a house. The house we are working so hard for. We are so close to closing it hurts. Anyhow. We were on our way there. We had had a pretty good morning. We were all excited to see the house. I was feeling anxious. What if we couldn’t afford it? What if it was a waste of time? What if the boys misbehave while we are there and we have to leave…or Felix has a blow out diaper? Just my typical “its all in my head” crap that brings me down. My amazing husband said something…and he looked at me. And I lost it. I grunted and scream and growled and hollered. I yanked the necklace that was around the rearview mirror down…no I ripped it off. The owl pendant that I love flying through the car.

I stomped my feet.

I almost cried.

It was nuts.

My boys were quiet. They were scared. Stephen was angry in response and I sent him into a foul mood. I apologized, I told Maddox I was sorry and it wasn’t okay. But you can’t undo words. Apologies are formalities and you cannot undo what has been done and what has been said and there are things you just can’t say or do to people you love. And I did. I do it all the damn time. This is just one example.

Well I’m proud to say that today is day one of my no yelling challenge.

*

Melody is still working on her Orange Rhino Challenge to yell less and love more. She was proud of herself for starting back in March; I am proud of her for still trying every single day, especially while pregnant which I know 3x over, makes not yelling not easy! Thanks Melody (http://melodymarie85.wordpress.com) for sharing so bravely and for helping me out tonight!

My Son’s Apology

461 days of loving more, 32 days of loving more year 2

I guess you could say I am kind of a superstitious person. I always avoided cracks when I was a kid, you know, so I didn’t break my mother’s back. And um, okay, I can’t think of any other superstitions that I followed growing up. But now that I am a mom, well, I can list a thousand superstitions. Here are my top four:

1) If the baby is sleeping through the night or even well – you don’t say anything, period. My mother-in-law still doesn’t get this. She calls and always asks, “and how are the kids sleeping?” I literally close my mouth and hum until she gets it and changes the subject. I just don’t want my night’s rest to be jinxed, ya know?

2) If your kids haven’t had the stomach bug or a runny nose for weeks – you don’t say anything, period. My husband didn’t get this until the great Stomach Bug Disaster of February 2012. We were at Friendly’s one night and he so bravely announced: “You know, we are so lucky we haven’t ever had the stomach bug hit our house.” I kid you not, less than ninety minutes later #2 started decorating the cream rug with macaroni and cheese. #1 followed and then #3. And yes, they each passed it back and forth to each other. For two weeks. Eh hem. Like I said, you just don’t talk about not having the stomach bug!

Shhh…don’t say a word!

3) If your kids are playing nicely and you are actually able to sit back and enjoy the moment – you don’t say anything, period. My mother still doesn’t get this. Okay, none of our family gets this. Simply stated, with four boys six and a half an under, if there is ever a moment like this it is beyond impossible, no, it is impossible to not jump for joy and do a boogey dance. And without fail, the boogey dance generally inspires one son to join in and then in the process he elbows his brother in the face and he starts yelling and then his brother follows suit and the last one starts crying because it is too loud. Like I said, you just don’t say anything if there is peace, you just enjoy it. Silently. To yourself. As long as the minute lasts (okay, or two minutes!)

4) If bedtime is going smoothly – you don’t say anything, period. I forgot this one tonight. Big time. Bedtime was going so smoothly for a Monday night that I couldn’t resist but think to myself “You are rocking it Orange Rhino.” Um, mistake! Tonight’s bedtime story totally made me think that superstitions’ are indeed real. (Yes, I know that they kind of aren’t real and that crazy bedtimes can just happen, but still….) Anywho, I can say one thing that I do know for certain to be real: not yelling can lead to great moments.

Putting four kids to bed by myself is always a challenge. Pre-Orange Rhino days, I used to come out of bedtime with sweaty palms and a heart wiped from racing, sometimes from loving but more often than not, from yelling. I used to rush, rush, rush bedtimes and it made it so miserable for all involved. I used to yell “Brush your teeth! Get dressed! Hurry up!” all too frequently and it truly made bedtime go longer. Tonight though, as I chased my naked 21 month old down the hall to coral him back towards the bath, and then reached out with my free arm to swoop up my 3 ½ year old trying to escape, I smiled and thought to myself ever so smugly, “You know, I feel flustered but I am staying calm. I am not yelling. I got this bedtime in the bag. You know tonight, I will post ‘How I Survive Bedtime’ because right now I am encapsulating that post.”

Carrying this thought in my mind and a wiggly child under each arm, I proudly went to the bath. #2 got in without being asked. Score. #3 got in without being asked. Double score. #4 got in without much fight. Triple score. Bedtime continued like this for the next 10 minutes. Teeth brushed, pajamas on, books read, no problem. Then I went to tuck #2 into his own bed.

As I tucked him in, he started getting all fresh telling me to “go away” and “get out of my room now” to “be quiet.” You know, now that he is 4 and 350 days or so apparently, fresh is the new way to talk. Ugh. I tucked him tightly, told him that was no way to talk to his mother or anyone, that it was rude and hurtful and that I would indeed leave. He did politely reply,

“I didn’t hear the words come out. I didn’t know it was rude. I couldn’t help it.”

He pulled the sheets over his head as I calmly walked out. As I started to shut the door I heard, “now I am all embarrassed.”

I calmly and lovingly replied,

“Well, now you know those words aren’t acceptable. Do not talk to me that way again please. I love you, good night.”

I walked out and went to tuck #3 and #4 in. I had JUST settled both to sleep when I heard #2 start shrieking at the top of his lungs, which is a definite no-no once lights are out. Lights out means quiet. Period. Clearly not tonight. Harumph.

“MOMMYYYYYY! MOMMYYYYYYY!!! COME HERE NOW! RIGHT NOW!”

#4 started crying, #3 started whimpering “It’s not fair that he is still awake!”

Meanwhile, I started thinking, “It’s not fair that bedtime ain’t over yet!”

I headed towards #2’s room, my feet hitting the floor a little, okay, a lot more heavy than I wanted them to. My hand grabbed the doorknob rather aggressively and my racing heart made it blatantly clear to me that a yell was desperate to come out. And then this little voice stopped me:

“Mommy?” the little voice squeaked, “Mommy, is that you?”

The softness soothed my heart and reminded me to quiet my growing yell. It reminded me that yelling had no place at this moment. That it wouldn’t accomplish anything. That it would just get the other boys all riled up.

I slowly opened the door, my heart still racing a little, but not nearly as much. Before I could even start in with my bedtime lecture about lights out, #2 said,

“Mommy, I’m sorry I yelled for you. I just really need to tell you something. I’m sorry I told you to get out. I didn’t know it was rude. I’m sorry.”

It was the most sincere, sweet, and loving apology, an apology that I most certainly would not have heard if I had barged in yelling. My son’s apology made me feel that I am indeed doing something right as a mom. My son’s apology made for the most perfect ending to tonight’s bedtime. My son’s apology made me realize again that great moments happen when I don’t yell. 

If you liked this post, here is a direct link to another bedtime story that had a great ending as a result of The Orange Rhino Challenge:  “Is Yelling Really Worth It?”
And here is the link to “How I ‘Survive’ Bedtime”

 

Happy Days!

460 days of loving more, 30 days year two!

Even though I don’t have a math degree and I am not a statistician, I can say with 100% certainty (or is it accuracy? whatever,) that the days I feel happy are the days that yelling less is easier. Like infinitely easier. The direct correlation is undisputable, and that my friends, is one reason why I write the deep, dark, ugly, sometimes over-the-top emotional posts. Because when I write those posts, like the “Am I Good Enough” and “It’s Not You It’s Me” I find myself working through some of the ugly feelings that keep me from being happy. Or said another way, those posts help me to let go of the ugly feelings just a little bit so that I can yell less and love more.

I know I have been writing a lot of “those posts” lately. Part of me wants to apologize for not being uplifting and positive. Part of me wants to explain why I write them (wait, I just did.) And part of me, no all of me, wants to say thank you for letting me write those posts. All of me wants to say thank you for letting me be real and honest. All of me wants to say thank you for not judging me but for offering support and often times, understanding. Those ugly posts are difficult to write, difficult to share, and difficult to publish because I fear how they will be received. But I need to write them; I need to process the yuck in my life to get to the yummy.

You all know that Friday night I finally (can I get an halleluiah?!) wrote a post after a long dry spell driven by fear and well, overwhelmedness of too many yucky feelings! How do I choose just one to write about? LOL. But I did it. And guess what? Acknowledging the yuckiness, talking (or writing as the case may be) did indeed help me to feel lighter and therefore happier. I am so grateful I finally wrote that post Friday night because the next morning we headed out as a family for a 36-hour change of scenery. I needed to leave some baggage at home in order to enjoy the excursion and survive the stress of being away because well, taking the kids away from their routine always starts off exhilarating and always ends up exhausting.

Naps – missed. Bedtimes – missed. Restaurant manners when operating sans sleep – oh totally missed. Enjoying the few good moments stuck in between lots of moments of stress? So not missed. But would I have missed out on some of those good moments if I hadn’t written that post? Would I have been even closer to yelling in the really tough moments (um, two kids screaming over a fork at a restaurant with all eye balls on me?) if I hadn’t written the post? I say yes. Again, talking about the yuck and trying to figure it out is hard but it takes some weight off which really helps me to be in a better place and better able to take in some really awesome moments with my boys. So again, thank you for letting me write those posts; thank you for giving me a place to share; thank you for helping me enjoy some moments this past weekend like…

…when #1 ran up to me screaming “Mommy, mommy, I finally have a loose tooth! See, see!” He has been desperate to have a loose tooth forever. Forever! He was so excited; I was so excited! We wiggled it back and forth together. His finger first, then he said, “mommy you try, but be gentle!” Then we talked about the tooth fairy and how much he thought he was getting. Um, he was wrong when he thought $500 was the going rate, way wrong, but it was so precious!

And

…when #3 cuddled under his hotel sheets, rolled over and looked at me and with all seriousness in the world said “mama, I might fart under the sheets while you are next to me ‘cuz I have a ‘lil tummy ache, is that okay?” Okay, so it was kind of gross, but I loved that he was asking permission and that his eyes showed that he was greatly concerned. I was also grateful he was asking me and not my husband because he would have informed him that that is called a dutch oven!

And

…when #2 ran to our newly planted lilac tree with me when we got home and discovered it had bloomed. I got the scissors and cut some branches off and before I could even tell him about when I was a little girl and I cut lilac branches in my backyard with my mommy and how I looked forward to it every year he said, “Oh mommy, will the lilacs bloom every year? Can we do this every year, like a tradition?” That made my day. Made me day. I love traditions and I love that I have passed on that love to my kiddos.

And

…when #4 said “Happy Day!” to me after all his brother’s screamed out Happy Mother’s Day to me this morning. This little munchkin has just started talking these last few weeks and that in itself is the greatest gift ever. With his seizures and an apparent speech delay, my mind has been a nervous wreck (those two combined generally mean larger problems yet to be diagnosed.) But now, he is starting to talk and it is beautiful. I am so glad I wasn’t grumpy and could enjoy hearing him say “Happy Day.”

Yes, “Happy Day.” Today, and yesterday, despite their challenges (which were plentiful!) I would call happy days. And happy days make it easier to also call them yell free days. I know writing about the yuck, helps me get have those days, so again, thank you.

I hope tomorrow you have a “Happy Day” and a yell less day too.

Note: I am fairly certain this post isn’t coherent and doesn’t say what I want it to say. But I wanted to just get it out there; to help myself get back in the practice of writing. In case it wasn’t clear, my points were (1) thank you and (2) yucky stuff happens and can keep me from being happy (or feeling good) and can be a real trigger for yelling. Finding a way to release some of those yucky emotions is important to me on my journey to yell less.

Am I Good Enough?

458 days of loving more, 29 days of year two!

Okay.
Here’s the thing.
There is no sugar coating ahead.
I don’t sugar coat, it just isn’t how I roll (except of course if we are talking about sugar cookies, that is an entirely different story.)

I want to write tonight.
I need to write.
I have wanted to write for the last 10 days actually.
I have needed to write for the last 10 days actually.
Based on the lack of a new post, I think you all know that despite my desire and desperate need to write, I haven’t.

This is the fifth document I have opened tonight.
This is the fifth time I have tried to write something.
Every time I start, I try to write something positive from the past ten days. I try to write something inspiring or on “topic.” And every time I come back to the same subject, one that I am so very afraid to share.

And there you go. It happened again. I write that I am afraid to write what is on my mind and I freeze and start to think “sh*t there you go again, writing about that boring downer of a topic that will turn everyone off.”

You know what, though, I need to write about what is on my mind because writing about it will set it free, it will set me free, it will allow me to start writing again which I so very much need. So here you go. No sugar coating. Just some honest to goodness raw emotions, hopefully with a positive spin at the end because that is why I like to write. Writing brings me clarity and oh my gosh do I need a little clarity right now in my life. Just a little. Anywho, I digress. I avoid. I need to just do it. Here goes.

The Orange Rhino is having a wicked hard time. There, I said it.

Last week’s knockdown knocked me down harder than I thought. It really rocked me to my core. I said that I let go and moved on – and I did, kind of. I did better letting go than I would have a year ago, but what I let go of was the singular punch, the action. I didn’t let go of the symbolism of the punch. The truth is, that punch made my one current struggle amplified one thousand times. Wait, one thousand times isn’t even enough. A google times.

My struggle right now, all a result of the major stressors going on, is that I just don’t feel good enough.

I don’t feel like a good enough wife; if I were, I wouldn’t be dealing with a marriage boulder, right?

I don’t feel like a good enough mom; if I were, my sons wouldn’t be struggling as much, right?

I don’t feel like a good enough me; if I were, I wouldn’t be as struggling as much, right?

And that is just top-line. I could easily delve into a zillion other examples of how inadequate I feel as in the worlds of me-hood, mommyhood, and marriagehood but they would all bring me back to the same point that right now, the big stressors in my life are making me feel not good enough across the board.

And let me tell you, it is a sucky feeling. A really sucky feeling. There hasn’t been a night in the last two weeks that I haven’t gone to bed crying because my mind wanders and starts poking at my big stressors and how I can make them better, and instead of getting a solution, just ends up back at the same conclusion: I am not good enough. And going to bed upset and crying? Well it has led to insomnia, big time. And that too, is a really sucky feeling because I am wiped and cranky all the time.

So there you have it. The Orange Rhino has been feeling really sucky. Do I feel sucky all the time? No. Do not fear! I still am having good moments, even great ones,

Like today when I got my almost two year old up from his nap and he just said “mommy, mommy, mommy” over and over again as he put his head on my shoulder and rubbed his fat little fingers on the collar of my shirt.

Like today when my three year old jumped out of his bed at six a.m. and screamed “mommy I slept commando, see?!”

Like today when my six year old said to me at our pizza date “Mommy this is best table because I have the best view. (Oh, of what I asked?) Of you of course.”

And like yesterday when my son brought home his mother’s day card and this is what it said:

 Do you know what that note did? What that thin, floppy, piece of pink paper did? It smacked me on the face so hard that I got knocked down again.

“WAKE UP ORANGE RHINO!” It said. “YOU ARE MORE THAN GOOD ENOUGH!!!”

Yes. I got punched in the gut yesterday, but in a really good, way. That beautiful card made me realize that my son doesn’t see all the things I think I am doing wrong – he just sees all that I am doing right, he just sees that I don’t yell, that we do nosies at nighttime, that we have fun together. He just sees that I am more than good enough. He just sees that I love him and what more could I want?

This past year of my Orange Rhino Challenge has been about learning to yell less and love more. When I write love more I always talk about loving my kids more. But tonight, as I sit here and write, and think about how my five year old “Gets it” and focuses on the positives, I can’t help but to be knocked down by a thought,

I think it is time I start loving myself more too.

Yes, it is most definitely the time to start loving myself more.
Yes, it is most definitely the time to start thinking like my 5 year old more often and see all the good that does exist.
Yes, it is most definitely time to let of go of this not “good enough” thought.

While partially warranted under the circumstances, this not loving myself enough, this not thinking I am good enough, it just has got to go.  It is physically exhausting, emotionally draining, and simply stated, a real pain the tuckus. And furthermore, it puts a real cramp on my “not yelling” style. I know I will not press save on this post and instantly be filled with a sense of “I am good enough.” I know I might not feel good enough in a week, or a month. But I also know that now I am aware of how very much I want to change, of how very much I want to love myself more, and I do believe that that will push me forward.

Here are my other thoughts on just being Good Enough “An Ode to the Moms I Will Never Be.” 

*

When I started writing tonight, I felt overwhelmed and scared and as a result, didn’t want to write, couldn’t write. Now that I have finally gotten something written, no matter how good it is or isn’t, I feel such a huge sense of relief that I did it, that I tore the band-aid off and finally wrote something. These feelings? They totally apply to the challenge. I felt the same way when I just jumped in and started the Challenge to yell less. Just sayin’…just sayin’ just do it and just sayin’…you can do it!

Is there more I want to say in this post? Yes. But I will save it for another time. This post needs to be good enough as is! Ha! 

An Ode to the Moms I Will Never Be

Hi Orange Rhinos! Here is a piece I wrote last Mother’s Day that is now up on Huffington Post. I would love to say that I have made a lot of progress on this subject and that this year I don’t need to give myself the same gift I gave myself last Mother’s Day, but alas, I will be giving myself the gift again and that is okay. I am a work in progress and that is just fine by me (okay, not fine by me on every day but I am trying!) Happy Mother’s Day!!! 

*

It’s Mother’s Day this Sunday, and while my four boys will praise me for being the mom that I am, sadly, I know that deep down inside, I will be thinking about the mom that I am not. You see, I often feel inadequate as a mom and think of her: the other mom, the mom I “planned to be,” the mom I think I “should be,” the mom I never will be.

I want to be a mom who wakes up and has time to shower and make herself look not just presentable, but pretty. But I will never be that mom. I will most likely never look pulled together, with blown-dry hair and accessorized outfits — because while I wish to look that way, I don’t have the time or energy. I will always have my hair in a braid, a hole in my jeans, a two-seasons-ago shirt and a belt that is… well, more than two seasons old. And that is OK. Because my kids think I am pretty just the way I am.

I want to be a mom who puts aside her to-do list to get down and play on the floor with her boys. But I will never be that mom. I will most likely never roughhouse with them or play freeze tag as much as they like because I much prefer, and take great joy in, watching them play and have fun with each other. And that is OK. Because I will still hug them, kiss them and tell them how proud and happy I am to see them playing together.

I want to be a mom who knows how to make crazy LEGO buildings, how to chase after dragons, how to play Star Wars. But I will never be that mom. I will most likely never build a LEGO creation the way my husband does. I will never spontaneously chase after dragons with a laser or think to build a fort. And that is OK. Because I will make ice cream cones out of Play-Doh with my boys and chase after falling leaves and snowflakes with them.

I want to be a mom who feels like she knows how to be a mom to boys — who doesn’t think that if she had girls, she would know how to be a better mother because she would know how to play tea and dolls and all things “girlie.” But I will never be that mom. I will most likely never be a mom who truly feels like she knows how to be a mom to boys. And, even if I had girls, I don’t think I would feel like I knew how to be a mom to them either, because knowing how to “be a mom” is not just about knowing what kind of activities my kids like to do, it is about knowing what makes my kids happy, what makes them sad, how I can help them, how I can protect them. Knowing how to be a mom is a daily learning process and I’ll never be fully caught up. And that is OK. Because I have already mastered the most important lesson: how to love my boys.

I want to be a mom who plans fun outings ahead of time, who plans play dates… who plans, period. But I will never be that mom. I will most likely never plan ahead, because it overwhelms me and because, well, I am just not good at managing my time. And that is OK. Because I love to stay home and just talk with my kids and I love to ask them questions about their day, to answer their questions, to hear their side conversations.

I want to be a mom who cooks well-balanced meals that my pediatrician would approve of. Scratch that. I want to be a mom who cooks anything besides macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets. But I will never be that mom. I will probably never consistently cook healthy meals like my mom and my nana used to. And that is OK. Because someday, I will learn how to cook beyond the basics and until then, I’ll keep teaching my boys how to bake the “yummiest cookies ever,” remembering the key ingredients are always love and patience.

I want to be a mom who does cute arts and crafts projects more often and remembers to send them to the grandparents. I will never be that mom. I will most likely never do lots of arts and crafts projects that would make Martha Stewart proud, because I am too scatter-brained to remember to buy the art materials in the first place. And that is OK. Because when my kids bring their art projects home, I praise them and hang them proudly up on the kitchen wall.

I want to be a mom who reads books more, practices ABC’s more, sings more, dances more and laughs more. I will never be that mom. I will most likely never be able to do all the extras because there aren’t enough hours in the day. And that is OK. Because I will do my best and I will enjoy the moments when I do read, dance and laugh. And as long as my kids feel loved — and have learned what love is and how to love — it’s OK with me if they learn their ABC’s late.

And oh, oh how I want to be a mom who doesn’t feel inadequate. Who doesn’t look at her friends (and strangers) and say: Wow, they are great moms, why aren’t I like them? But instead looks at them and says: Wow, they are great moms and so am I.

So am I.

I am a good mom.

I might never be the mom I dream of being, but right now, I can be the mom that I am, the mom that my boys know and love. I might not be a lot of things I wish to be, but I still am a lot of good things. I didn’t cook a perfectly-balanced dinner tonight, but I did manage to not yell at my kids today and I am going to keep trying not to. I didn’t take my kids to the park yesterday, but I did talk with them while on a spontaneous family walk this morning.

You see, I find it so easy — too easy — to look in the mirror and see all the reasons why I am not a good enough mom, why I am not living up to my ridiculous ideal of what a mother should be. This Mother’s Day, as a gift to myself, I am going to look in the mirror and tell myself that I am a good enough mom; that I might not be the mom that I envision, but that I am still a good enough mom. And I hope you do the same.