I will never forget the morning I was outside in my driveway playing with my boys and two of them started melting down at precisely the same moment and then wailed together at precisely opposite moments creating a loud, screeching symphony of horrific sounds. Their oh-so-not-beautiful chorus of yells lasted a good couple of minutes and could be heard around the block I am certain, and obviously by my three neighbors walking by at that exact moment. I began to usher my boys into the garage trying desperately to remain calm and collected in front of my new audience. With both yellers inside for a break to chill out and wipe snot of their faces, I ran out to get a lost lovey and instead found the eye of one of my neighbors.
“Oh Orange Rhino, that was quite impressive how cool, calm, and collected you stayed during that. I don’t know how you do it! We heard them before we even reached your driveway!” she laughed.
I laughed right along with her and replied,
“Yeah, kinda loud right? Oi! But thanks for the kind words. And, um, trust me, I am so not cool, calm, and collected, but thank you!” I felt grateful for the compliment, but also embarrassed because I was yet to be an Orange Rhino and I was anything but cool, calm, and collected when I was inside my house and free of potential judgment from a public audience.
“If only she knew the truth,” I thought to myself as I ran inside as the yelling symphony kicked in full force again…but this time with a third voice. Mine. I never yelled in public for fear of said judgment, but in private, well, that is a whole different story.
An entirely different and ass backwards story.
In private, I assumed no judgmental eyes watched me so I felt more comfortable yelling like a banshee. Obviously, I should have had my vision checked every time I thought that. Did I not see the beautiful children standing in front of me, watching me every second of every minute of every hour of every day? How did I not get that they too were an audience and that they most definitely judged me and came to nasty thoughts about me that I would never dream my children would think?
Fortunately, shortly after my neighbor’s comment I finally fully embraced that my kids were indeed also my audience, my way more important audience, and I didn’t want to just appear cool, calm and collected in front of neighbors and others, but, for the sake of my children, I wanted to be cool, calm and collected in private as well. The Orange Rhino Challenge was born very soon after that and I began my journey of yelling less and loving more. And I actually began feeling comfortable and confident saying, “Yeah, I am cool, calm and collected, and it feels great,” a lot more often.
Yes, now that I am an Orange Rhino, on most days I feel cool, calm and collected. Those days it does feel great to be so “together” and I feel ever so grateful that I took The Orange Rhino Challenge and that it pushed me, that I pushed myself, to change and be the same person in public and private. But let’s be real. There are also days, or at least moments, where as much as I try to be cool, calm, and collected I am much more like frustrated, frazzled and f…g fed up!
Yesterday morning I was definitely in “F” territory. Frustrated. Frazzeld. Fed up. And feeling like a really big failure. #1 has not transitioned back to school well at all (have any of us?) and woke up so elated that it was Sunday and not a school day that he bounced off every square inch of every wall in our house possible. And I? Well I had yet to drink my Gummy Bear juice and was not bouncing here and there and everywhere! #1’s energy of course got my other sons going so soon I had four bouncing off the walls boys and I just couldn’t find the energy to join the circus (often times a good alternative) even though it was evident that the boys were having so much fun laughing together being silly. Although their energy and shenanigans caused no harm and they were all playing together beautifully (an outright miracle these days,) I still felt the need to put an end to it. So I became cranky, cold and crotchety.
“Knock it off,” I snapped.
“NOW.” I repeated, a little more firmly and a lot more frantically than my first statement.
I just needed quiet and peace immediately so I could start the day more smoothly, and well, so I could get to my cool, calm, and collected happy place! Even though I didn’t yell, I didn’t like my voice and I certainly didn’t like that I poured my poisonous attitude into the happy morning, sucking the cheerfulness of my four bouncing bears right out of them as evidenced by eight eyes blankly and sadly staring at me.
So I corrected the situation as best as I could.
“Sorry I snapped guys. I just need some coffee and to wake up a bit. You can keep all your energy and playing going – just take it to the basement where you can be as silly as you want, ‘kay?”
Their eyes softened and they ran yelling into the basement. And I, I immediately made my coffee! As I sat at the kitchen counter, my mind started going back to “F” zone instead of the cool, calm, collected zone as hoped.
“Ugh. I failed. I handled that in a way I don’t like and haven’t done in ages. I am so frustrated with myself.”
And then the coffee must have kicked in because my mind went where it needed to,
“It’s okay. So you snapped. Let it go. You’ll do better next time.”
And better I did.
Because the wonderful thing about kids is that they give you lots of chances to practice handling “tough” moments “better next time.” Ha! Yes, my boys give me lots of chances to practice being cool, calm, and collected, like when they decorate the house in toilet paper to make a snow storm, peel an orange while walking around the house and leaving the peel every where, and refuse to get in the car and instead engage all brothers to stage a protest of all errands.
But, and more importantly, they also give me lots of chances to fall head over heals in love with them again and again and again with their outright adorable stories, infectious laughs and tender hugs and kisses. But here’s the catch.
I can only fully embrace these chances to love more if I forgive myself when I have a so-called “failure” parenting moment and find myself totally frustrated with my behavior. Yes, I can only take these chances to love more if I tell myself it is okay that I wasn’t “perfect,” and that I can, and will, do better next time.
If I don’t forgive myself and move forward the only chance, no the only certainty, is that I will miss out on the chance to see and embrace opportunities to love my kids more because I will be too busy loving myself less. And well, that just isn’t something I want to do anymore. Been there, done that and missed too many stories, laughs, and snuggles for years before becoming an Orange Rhino. Letting go and believing I will do better next time is what I want to do, what I am doing, because well for this Orange Rhino,
Failure is out and Forgiveness is in.
There are days and moments when I will feel frustrated, frazzled, and f… fed and I will be tempted to add “failure” to the mix. But on those days, in those moments, I will fight to add forgiveness instead because it is a huge key to getting back to the cool, calm, and collected world where yelling less and loving more happens much more readily!
I just stumbled across your blog…I don’t even know how. Divine intervention? I Googling “how to be a good mom in the midst of chaos” and “does anyone else have 3 incredibly challenging young boys?” and “God, please help me get my life in order”…and who even knows what else. Things were mostly manageable until I had my 3rd son. Since then, it’s just been downhill the whole way. Three kids definitely feels outside my ability level. My marriage is crumbling and I my grip on my kids is a zero. I’m always “that” mom. I rarely even go out with more than one of them at a time anymore. All 3 of our boys have always been “challenging”…colicky as babies, tantrum-ers since toddlerhood (yes, they still do it, daily), talk back, fight with each other constantly, screech & scream, etc.etc.etc. From what I have read, I think 2 of them have Sensory issues and my eldest son was also just diagnosed with ADHD. My husband can’t stand being at home, he rages, I yell, everyone yells. It’s a complete nightmare. I drive to work with tears streaming down my face almost daily. We’ve tried counseling several times over the years…it’s expensive, a lot of time out of work…a and has not been very helpful. I don’t have a good support system and I mostly feel like I am drowning. Saying I feel like a bad mother does not do my level of incompetency justice. I feel like a full-stop failure and everyday I just worry about how my boys are going to turn out. Anyway, sorry for unloading. I am glad I found this blog and this idea to stop yelling. I think if I can quiet our home a little maybe I can start to dig out of the rubble. And maybe I can not damage my little boys, who I love a whole lot more than I sound. I just drew a heart in orange highlighter on my hand to remind me to choose love over anger & yelling when I get home from work tonight.
I have an orange kitchen and orange trim everywhere in my house now I must be an orange rhino. thanks so much…. our of the fs into the cs
Just finished Day 4 of the challenge, after a bunch of frustrating Day 1s. And yes, I did feel like a failure. It’s so good to be reminded that they DO give you second chances. And third and fourth and fifth ones. Also good to know that I’m not the only Mom (of boys, three of them) who snaps when I just need some sanity, even when they’re not doing anything wrong, per se.
Here’s to hoping that we can join in the silliness next time!
Thank you, I really need this… it’s stress time at home right now and I found myself yelling and talking awfull to my kids 🙁
I’ll do my best effort to love more and yell less 🙂
i thank you very much for this. my wife sent me the “10 things i learned when i stopped yelling” link and i have begun to noodle around for other things to read. i am a dad and i yell a bit, but i am a man and i can change, if i want to, i guess… Seriously tho, i did not yell much during my first marriage because that was a trait of my father’s i was intent on not emulating. however it is important to find a way to deal with the emotions that arise, and recognize that gap between stimulus [loving lil ones] and response [me acting like a grown adult instead of child too] is where i get to grow, and show how to be a man, and treat others with respect, kindness, and understanding. i am far from perfect on this adventure, however, i have a lovely wife who already has those attributes of how to treat others. bless you, for what you show us, and for helpful insights.
Thank you I needed this. I am trying very hard not to yell at my girls anymore. I am more calmer but I have not done good this month. They are not listening to me. It just gets under my skin. I’ll call out their name and no answer. I’ll call a second time and no answer. I am getting more and more aggravated. It is only when I yell that they answer me. UGH. I wish my girls would listen to me.
Oh thank you Orange Rhino – needed this pep tonight….I have included our 3 1/2 year old on this journey and have told him to tell me when I’m getting angry/yelling/grumpy and together we are trying to stop the anger/animosity/yelling in this house! We seem to be stuck in a bit of a rut with 1 good day, 1 bad!!!!!
Just found your blog. Love this message. Forgiveness is key. There’s no way to be a perfect mom but a million ways to be a loving one!
Ugh…I too felt like a failure yesterday – twice. Once in the morning and once in the evening at bed time. My fault on both accounts (not allowing enough time at either part of the day for us to get things done); and I felt rushed and off schedule – so I take it out on my kids. However, this morning, as I spend quiet time with me, my coffee, and Him, I found these words: “Talk with Me about your struggles and feelings of inadequacy. Little by little,I will transform your weaknesses into strengths. Remember your relationship with Me, is saturated in Grace”. Forgiveness is definitely IN! and we are NOT Failures, we are Human; and for me, I know I cannot do it alone and I lay my struggles at the feet of Jesus. Today is a new day. Today is the day I view my children as my “way more important audience.”
Oh goodness. I did need this, as I’m not doing very with my non-yelling journey. I do talk with my sister more often, which is good, and trying to forgive myself better now.
Thankyou for writing all of this. Its refreshingly honest as always and we all so need to hear this as most of us have a perception that everyone else is perfect. I too am getting calmer as I am making changes to myself that needed to be made. We must make decisions and do things that are right for us. Follow your natural instinct (inner guide) and the rest will fall into place because we will be happier mums. Thanks again. Your a blessing
That’s beautifully written n I can so relate to every word of it.. I have two boys who are very active.. I always feel that l’m ruining their childhood by yelling at them.. But however much of try I just can’t stop.. I forget that they are little kids who will learn from all the things they do.. I’m trying really hard to be an orange rhino but it’s not working out.. The worst part is that my husband is a yeller too so he can’t help me much either.. I hope I can be an orange rhino before I ruin their lives..
Too perfect. Thanks!
Thank you. I needed this today.
Thank you so much for sharing & inspiring parents like me. I appreciate the mantra,”failure is out, forgiveness is in…” Love it!!!! Thank you thank you. I am thinking of you as you continue this amazing parenting journey & am grateful to you for inspiring me to be a better mom. sending you peace & love-
I appreciate this page. As a man with three young boys, and a teenage stepson, I find myself yelling a lot. Your friends definetly encourage me.