The Epiphany

Dear Larry,

I want to thank you for busting into my house unannounced last week and catching me screaming at my kids. While at the time I was totally unappreciative (seeing as I thought you were a burglar and all) looking back, it was really quite the gift. You forced me to realize that I yell at my kids much too much. So thank you. Next time though, please do feel free to ring the doorbell and give me some warning!

*

Last Friday, I was attached to my breast pump which really is always a pleasure. Ugh. The baby was napping and my three older boys were in my room. Baby lock was on door so they couldn’t leave for the 10 minutes I mooed like a cow. I was exhausted as I was up the night before wasting time doing who knows what and then as luck would have it not 1, not 2, but 3 of my 4 boys had problems sleeping. So here we are, 4 tired people, trapped in my room for 10 minutes.  Not 30 seconds into pumping and the boys find the pump spare parts – the back up tubes, the piston for the hospital pump, the extra “horns.” Before I knew it my room had turned into a battlefield. Two boys are whipping the tubes at each other and the other one is using the piston as a gun. I have a thing against playing guns – zero tolerance and it pushes me to the edge. They are all running around yelling, jumping on and off my bed, you know the bed  that I had JUST made.

Now, when I use the breast pump I feel irritable. Gross. Sore. Disappointed (that I’m not breastfeeding) and let’s not forget HORMONAL. I can’t be bothered when I pump, and especially not touched. It’s enough that my breasts are being sucked alive, please don’t come and put a horn on my head or run around yelling or create more household chores for me to repeat.

But alas, all of the above items are happening, as if an invitation to me to lose it. I nicely ask my boys to stop. To sit criss-cross applesauce and tell me about what they would like to do that day. I try reading a book. Anything so that I don’t become the raging lunatic that I can be when I’ve been pushed to the edge.

And they don’t.

And I am stuck attached to the blessed boob-sucker and  can’t get up and ever so politely walk over to them, bend down and make eye contact, gently place my hand on their shoulder and  explain to them in pre-school terms that if they don’t stop NOW mommy is going to f’n lose it. (You know, because that is what all the parenting books tell you to do.  Not the lose it parts, the other parts). I politely ask them again to stop.

And again, they ignore me (shocker).

The volcano that is me erupts. At high-pitched, as high as I go and loud as I go I scream “STOP IT NOW. MOMMY JUST NEEDS A MINUTE OF PEACE to regain her composure. PLEASE. JUST A MINUTE” Finally silence comes. My ever so intuitive 5 year old comes over and rubs my back “it’s okay mommy.” My 3.5 year old just looks at me then bats his eyelashes and smiles and then my 2 year old starts running around yelling because he has no clue. It was beyond infuriating.

And then I hear a noise and see a shadow outside the door. Oh sh*t I think; someone is robbing the house. You know, at 9am on Suburbia Lane. I open the bedroom door, and call out. Hello????

Silence. Finally, someone comes down from the attic. What the…

“Oh hi Mrs. “Orange Rhino”, its me Larry, just fixing some things.”  (We’ve been doing construction on the house for a while to make room for baby #4…all the workers have become like family and have the code to the garage).

“um hi Larry, did you hear all that?”

With a big sh*t eating grin on his face he replies “Why, yes, yes I did. You go mom. A moms got to do what a mom has to do.”

MORTIFYING. MOR.TI.FYING (perhaps extra so because to all those breast pumpers out there you know that your breasts are extra um shall we say alert after pumping and I hadn’t inserted pads yet. Nice).

And that was it. The light bulb went off.

In the 9 months the workers lived with us, I only horrifically yelled a handful of times. That’s a pretty good track record if you ask me. BUT I only did that well because I had an audience that I cared what they thought about me. An audience that I wanted to look good in front of; who I wanted to show that I was a totally pulled together mom (which by the way, I am so not). An audience of people who after the work was done, I would never ever see again, unlike my boys who I will see every day for many many years to come, god willing.

So let’s do the math: People I’ll never see again and I don’t yell.  My own boys who I will see every day and I can’t not yell. HOW BACKWARDS IS THAT? Way backwards.

Especially backwards because it turns out that I DO HAVE AN AUDIENCE. And it’s the one comprised of my four sons. It’s the ONLY AUDIENCE that matters. I love my audience fiercly. I care an awful lot about what they think of me. It just took me this mortifying moment to realize that I was putting on the show for the wrong people.

I don’t want my boys to think I’m a “mean witch” and that they “don’t like it when you yell at me, it makes me think you don’t love me anymore.” Ouch. That one stung. Or what about when my 5 year old told my mom that he is “just like mom. I yell all the time when I’m angry.” That one really hit home. This is how my kids see me…and how they are starting to act towards each other.  They are starting to yell…just like me. Nice legacy I’m passing on, eh? Let’s not forget the feelings of shame, fear and sadness that I no doubt pass along when I go off one of my rants. Not exactly what I envisioned teaching my kids….

The rest of the day I was on better behavior –and it took A LOT and I mean A LOT of focus, patience, and resolve. I screamed a few more times. I was just wiped that day and didn’t have it in me to do better.  Sigh.

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21 thoughts on “The Epiphany

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  2. Oh, I understand!! I am the same way. If I can stay on top of remembering (or pretending) that I have an audience, that helps a lot.

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  8. Hello, just found your blog and decided to start at the beginning. I know what you mean about having an audience. I live in a duplex and I know for a fact that the neighbors can us when we raise our voices, because I’ve had some loud neighbors and I could hear every word! So, yeah, why do I care so much about what they think about me anyway?… :)

    • Hello and welcome! I’m glad you found this blog and I hope you enjoy it! It’s funny whose opinions we care about it. I so often take my kids opinions for granted. Realizing that I did opened up a whole new world for me!

  9. Hi! THANK YOU! My husband & I tend to yell a bit at our 3yr old & almost 2yr old boys (20 months apart). I ran across your blog when my friend posted it to Facebook the other day. I started reading it this morning & couldn’t stop crying! I vowed right then & there that I would start TODAY to stop screaming at them…I made it through day one with NO screaming (from me, but they still did of course :) I was trying to figure out what to do to help me with this journey to better my family. I painted my finger nails & toe nails orange so that I could be reminded…may be silly but it’s a start :)

  10. i just found your blog. i cried so much. i have a horrible habit of yelling and exploding at my childrens specially my #2 she is challenging. and i have just not figured out how to deal and approach her yet. so i yell all the time and i always feel like the scum of the earth afterwards but do not have the gonads to go and apologize to her. i tend to tell myself if she would just listen if she would just follow the rules. ( she is almost 6) i don’t tend to blame myself. and then i beat myself up about it afterwards. i try to remind myself she is ONLY 6. she is learning. she is a boundary pusher. she is an amazing little girl who is outgoing and imaginative. and i don’t want to yell and verbally beat that out of her. i see the fear in her eyes everytime i start screaming or yelling because i feel i just cannot take it anymore. and i take it out on my amazing kids. and that makes me worse than scum when i do that to them. but i don’t want to anymore they deserve a better mom that that and you have inspired me to work harder to be that for them. something IDK why i could not do for myself. i guess it was because i felt alone. nobody wants to admit they are closet yellers and ragers, and when they do its all roses and smiles on how they used to be that way and all you have to do is want it and then its sooo easy. you have done more so much more by sharing the grisly parts of your journey and giving others hope and the tools to climb out of our holes of shame and shaming by being real and frank and given us a chance to become better. i cannot wait to reach my 365.

  11. holistically I have yelled a lot. Not one particular yelling episode comes to mind as I wish I hadn’t ever yelled. As the girls have gotten older 10, 6 and 5 I feel that I am yelling less BUT what really wanted me to work hard and make the change is I have noticed how much my 10 yr old is like me and it’s a bit scary. She is short with her sisters, she yells at them, and can be very critical ( mmmm she’s learnt that all from me). scary thought and I hope I can turn that all around so the girls can all be kind generous and patient people but to that I need to learn it first. I will yell the beat myself up about it constantly so it’s time to change. Didn’t yell this morning YAH

  12. Wow. I can so relate. It definitely helps to know I’m not the only one.
    Not trying to justify but I grew up in a house. Now my 8 year old daughter deals with a yelling mother. I HATE IT! She is my only child and she’s great. I do love her so much. She pushes the limits and yells now too.
    I am desperate to fix this yelling problem. Out of control is yelling and its not an option. I’ve spent many days beating myself up and am hoping this 30 day thing will help us all.

  13. Hi,
    I found your blog some time ago and joined this month’s challenge. I enjoy reading your posts and get inspired every time I read them. In the situation you are describing above the situation really looks challenging and rage-provoking. I wonder how you’d handle this situation if it happened now, that you are more experienced in dealing with challenging situations? I just can’t think of any loving and calm behavior in this situation..
    Thanks a lot,
    Irene

    • Now I would have gotten up…walked over to my boys calmly, placed a hand on his arm so I got his attention and told him the behavior needed to stop. If I still felt rage, I might go into my closet and let it out via a scream into the closet.

  14. I have a terrible yelling problem. I have 12 year old twins, one boy, one girl. They are both starting that teanage attitude and fight all the time. I get to my witts end all the time. I love them a lot and hate that I do this. I yell mostly at my son as he has become very oppinionated in a negative way and I try all the time to tell him to talk about positive things, but he has a hard time doing that (a lot like my husband…hehe). I have to find a happy ground with him as we butt heads all the time. I love reading all these posts and find it helpful that I am not the only one with this yelling syndrome. This is very hard and the kids are very trying, but I am determing to do this. Thanks all.

  15. I want to address my yelling. I have three dd under five and I remember when I had my first I had all the patience in the worl, I felt calm and peaceful but since having my second and third my patience has definitely left the building. I do find myself boiling inside and gritting my teeth before I yell especially when I have asked my two eldest to do something or ‘not’ to do something especially to each other and if they do not acknowledge or they carry on doing what I have expressed that they do not do, I find my voice tends to get a bit louder each time until I find I’m raising my voice. My second dd is feisty and very much like her dad where she doesn’t seem to respond to anything – time out on the naughty step is like a game to her and she only seems to respond to a raised voice. I feel awful when I yell or lose my temper because I don’t want to be that kind of mummy and I feel like I’m letting them down as well as myself. I feel like a bad mum when I feel I’ve lost control of the situation. I do have good days where I’ve managed to rein it in but it is by no means an easy task. I know I feel better if I manage to keep myself in check because my little family means everything to me and they deserve better from me. All being said they are happy kiddies and they know they are loved dearly but it’s keeping a cool head every time there is a situation. It ain’t easy!

  16. Soooo glad I found your blog. I am a yeller…and I usually don’t mind an audience. My mom was a yeller so I guess it just comes naturally. I try so so hard not to yell at my kids (2yrs and 8 months – yelling mostly directed at the toddler). Every once in a while I do but my problem is more yelling in front of them. We have two large, of-the-wall dogs and I am CONSTANTLY yelling at them. After reading this I am going to make a serious effort to not yell in front of or at my kids.

  17. Your very inspiring I have 3 boys, and I’m pretty much a single mom cause dads away all week, but thank you for making me realize just how stupid it is to not consider my kids as an audience, my main audience. Sometimes its just so overwhelming, expecially them all being so young. My oldest gets all of it. Go figure I used to say the oldest gets the shit deal, but I never really focused that I am making it a shit deal for mine. Keep up the good work.

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