159 days without yelling, 206 days of loving more to go!
I have no idea if this post makes sense. I had a funeral today and my eyes are so sore and tired from crying all day and my heart is so heavy with sadness for my friend that I am not sure what I wrote. All I am sure of is that I needed to write tonight. Because in some really twisted way, the funeral I attended today only emphasized the important of this challenge for me.
The Orange Rhino
I had to watch a very close friend bury his mom today.
He already lost his father about thirteen years ago.
He just had his first daughter three weeks ago.
Unfortunately his mother entered the hospital and a coma shortly thereafter and was never able to meet her only grandchild.The whole situation pains me so. I’ve been carrying around a huge weight of sadness since this Thursday when I first heard the news. Knowing that someone so close and dear to me is suffering just breaks my heart.
And yet, since Thursday, I’ve been short and b*tchy with my four kids, with four people so close and dear to me. Here I am feeling so sad about my friend’s loss of his mom and yet I am being a mean mom to my kids. Why? Why is it that we are short with the ones we love? I don’t know why but I do know this. Just admitting it – admitting that these last few days I have been short because I am overwhelmed with grief – has at least kept me from yelling at the things so undeserving (oh like shoes being left by door for me to trip on, wake up calls at 4 am, food being flung.)
But still, even though I haven’t yelled, I hate it that instead of reaching out to my kids for the love I so desperately needed these last few days, I shut down and was short and distant. Because that is the antithesis of what I wanted. I have cried so much the last few days because my friend and his mom were so incredibly close and that is what I want for my sons and me. I don’t want to be short and distant to them. I want to be incredibly close to them.
My friend cared for his mom so deeply and was such an amazing son. Ever since his dad died he looked after his mom with a sense of love, commitment, responsibility and honor that never ceased to amaze me. He cared for her in a way I can only hope my sons bestow upon me. I want for my boys and I the same strong, loving relationship my friend had with his mom…and yet here I spent the last few days doing anything but building that relationship. (Unless days on end of “acceptable” snapping by Orange Rhino standards counts?!)
My friend shared some words today about his mom that made me really think. Well, and that made me really cry too. He said something along the lines of:
“It all boils down to this. My mom loved me unconditionally. Every time I had a question or a problem, I went to her and she told me she loved me and that she was proud of me. Even in her last days I asked her if I ever disappointed her. She couldn’t speak but she shook her head no and gave me a look that said, “are you nuts?!”
Listening to my friend speak, I thought of three things. One, my friend’s mom raised a great son and she’d be proud of him today, two of the immense sadness he must be feeling and three, I would be honored, no blessed? if my sons ever speak of me the way my friend spoke of his mom. I would be honored and blessed if my sons love me an eighth as much as my friend loved his mom.
You know, I struggled this week to answer the simple question: Why do I want to stop yelling at my kids. Really, the answers are so clear to me now. It’s because I love my kids and like my friend and his mom, I want them to come to me with every question and problem, even if they have failed, because they know I will love them unconditionally.
And why else do I want to stop yelling at my kids? Because while I love my kids, I know I can love them more. I want to love them more. And every time I yelled at them, I mean really yelled, screamed, went ballistic type yell, I chipped away at that love, I didn’t add to it. Instead I slowly chipped away at the potential for the unconditional love to grow. I chipped away at the opportunity for my boys to come to me without fear whenever a problem arises.
I am sure my friend and his mom had moments where one or both of them yelled. And I know that realistically a yell will come out of my mouth at some point in my many years as a mom. But that isn’t going to keep me from trying my hardest to love my kids more – with more respect, more patience, more grace, more empathy. Because loving my kids more will only teach them to love me more. Loving my kids more will only help our relationship grow stronger. Someday my boys will be speaking about me from a podium. And when that day comes, I want them to be able to speak of the same unconditional love my friend shared today. And I can only imagine that not yelling (or even yelling less) is one step towards that. And it’s a worth step worth taking because let me tell you – watching my friend speak today, sensing the love he felt for his mom? It was powerful. Beyond powerful.