343 days without yelling, 22 days of loving more to go!
Dear sesame seed bagel,
I think I blame you for my near catastrophic yell last week. But I also thank you for reminding me about how important it is to help a mother out, any mother out.
The Orange Rhino
It was T-100 minutes until I took sweet son #4 into New York City to meet a third neurologist. I was anxious. A.N.X.I.O.U.S. and all my boys sensed it. I decided that a huge Diet Coke and a fresh toasted sesame seed bagel with chive cream cheese would help ease my nerves. So I buckled all the kids into the mini-van and headed to the bagel store at 6:45 in the morning.
I was pleased with my decision. I was pleased with my managing my emotions and determining what I needed to feel better, what I needed to stay cool, calm, and collected.
My boys, however, WERE NOT pleased. Normally they love the morning car rides. We talk about the weather, what songs we like, how diggers are made, how much I love them. But oh no. Not this morning. This morning they wanted to talk about how much they hated car rides. How much they hated each other. How much they hated that #4 would spend all day with me, alone, and they would have to spend the day shuffled between two babysitters. Oh, and why couldn’t daddy be home to help instead of traveling? They didn’t want me. They wanted daddy. In fact, they wanted nothing to do with me or the bagel store or having a pleasant morning. In fact, I think they wanted to see if I would lose it. Honestly.
Yes, last Thursday morning not one person in my household was happy go lucky. We were the cranky bunch. I knew I needed to stay calm. I knew I wanted to stay calm. But as we parked the car and the screaming continued, I knew I was about to lose it. I knew the likelihood of a massive meltdown from EVERY SINGLE BOY was huge. So I found my eerily quiet, soothing voice and tried to be uber positive and loving as we headed into the store.
“Oh, #2 thank you for unbuckling your brother.”
“#1, you are so strong, thank you for holding the door.”
“#3 you are being so patient. Thank you!”
Yes, I was pulling out all sorts of praise out of every orifice I had to try to make them feel loved; to try and make myself feel like an okay mom. Because at that moment, I SO wasn’t feeling it. I was feeling guilty for spending so much time lately with #4. I was feeling ridiculous for dragging them to town just for a bagel. I was feeling crappy for being cranky with my boys just because I was nervous. I was feeling sad that I snapped at my boys on a morning when they were just nervous too, on a morning when they needed my re-assurance that #4 was going to be okay. Ugh. I was just having one of those mommy mornings where I felt like I was crap and just wanted to cry.
Yes, I just wanted to sit down in the middle of the bagel store and cry. Oh, and I just wanted to boys to sit the blankety-blank down in their chairs and be quiet. Just for five seconds. That was all I needed.
Then I heard a voice. The most beautiful voice.
“You know, you are a great mom. You are being so patient and loving. I wish I saw that more. Your boys are lucky.”
WOW. Did my mystery angel KNOW that I needed that reassurance right then? Did she see through my mommy clothes and into my heart? Did she have super powers and know that I was about to go ape-sh*t in the middle of the store?
“Wow. Thank you so much.” At this point tears started forming in my eyes. I couldn’t help it. I felt so alone and nervous and frustrated and impatient at that moment. I was trying so hard to keep it together and not yell despite my personal angst, yet I was slowly unraveling.
I continued, wiping a tear away. “You don’t know how much that means. I had a rough morning and well, thank you. Thank you. You made my day. Truly.”
And she did. She MADE MY DAY. I remember writing a post last August about a stranger needing a friend and how I became that friend. Ironically, it was at the same exact bagel store as I was in last Thursday. That post could have been about me. I needed a friend. I needed some support. I needed to know that it was okay, that I was doing a good job. I needed that woman in my life at that moment.
And guess what? As moms, as parents, as people, we all need to be told we are doing a good job. Especially when we least expect it. Especially when we are struggling. That woman took 30 seconds to pay me a compliment. It was the best gift ever. She gave me STRENGTH to keep parenting with love, she gave me strength to not yell. It may sound silly, but she saved my Orange Rhino Challenge that morning. And I am grateful. So grateful.
It doesn’t take much to compliment a struggling parent. Or to reassure them. In fact it takes less than 30 seconds but can impact that parent all day. Trust me. I know. I experienced it. And I have been paying it forward every day since. Every day since last Thursday I have told a struggling mom that I think they are doing a great job. And I have always received a warm, “really?” but “oh my gosh thank you I needed that” smile.
So is this post a post about learning not to yell? Not really. But what it is about helping others and perhaps unintentionally helping them to not yell at a particularly tough moment. And that to me is important. Because you just NEVER know when you are going to need the favor returned.
So go ahead. Share this story. Tell your friends they are good moms. Tell a stranger tomorrow she is a good mom when she is trying her hardest to hush her crying baby in the middle of the coffee store. You won’t regret it. And she won’t forget it.