A Mother Understands.

330 days of not yelling, 35 days of loving more to go!

Dear Staycation,

Oh I loved you so. I loved waking up and having nowhere to go, nowhere to drive. I loved waking up and having all my boys, all 5 of them, in my bed snuggling, being lazy. I loved having my 5 boys home all day to just hang out with. To play with. To laugh with. To smile at. To enjoy. And now you are done and I am sad and oh so cranky and impatient. But guess what? My kids are more so and we can’t all be that way. I guess I need to be the adult and be calm and empathetic until we all re-adjust. In the meanwhile, can you please make plans to come back soon?

The Orange Rhino


The extra hyper behavior, the extra tears over small things, and the extra amount of time dedicated to not listening, all made it very clear that my emotional carbon copy, son #1, was struggling with vacation coming to an end just as much as me. And all these “extras” certainly made our last day on vacation with him extra hard. It made both my husband and me extra impatient, my husband more so though.

You see, I was at least able to be extra empathetic because I knew what my son was feeling. I too wanted to run around crazy because I was so full of sadness that I didn’t know what to do with myself. I too wanted to cry over everything because I had had such a great staycation that I didn’t want it to end. I too didn’t want to listen to the “get-ready-to-go-back-to-real-life” voice in my head because I just wanted to stay in vacationland, the land of no constraints, the land of lots of family time.

But I couldn’t. I couldn’t ignore real life coming back and I couldn’t lose it with my son even though I kind of wanted to. So instead I listened to the other voice in my head, the one that kept saying over and over and over again “Do not YELL at your son. Yes, he is acting out and struggling BUT it isn’t because he is trying to be difficult or annoying it is because he is having a hard time. Love him. Listen to him. Be patient with him. Tell him you too are sad but how happy you are for the fun time we did have. Reassure him that it will be the weekend soon. Whatever you do DON’T YELL at him. He needs love right now, not anger. And besides, you will kick yourself in the a*s if you end vacation on a bad note.”

Oh I am glad I listened to that voice. Because it was right.

As we all headed up for bedtime, #1 starting running around crazy and ignoring each and every simple request asked of him. Please put your clothes in the laundry basket. No. Please get in the bath. No. Please brush your teeth. No. PLEASE LISTEN. NO NO NO! Oh dear #1 was doing everything to avoid going to bed, to avoid ending vacation. Can you blame him?

Well, my hubby did and started to lose his cool (can’t blame him either). I interrupted.

“Babe, don’t get angry with him. He is just having a hard time.” I said.

“No he’s not. He’s fine.”

I knew better. My days of The Orange Rhino Challenge, my days of paying attention to my kids, like really paying attention, told me the truth about this situation.

“He’s not. Trust me. Please.” I pleaded as I turned around to rally three other kids into a bath.

And at that point, as much as I wanted to cry, I laughed. You see, my mother-in-law always gives me gifts with thoughtful sayings about motherhood. And I always kind of laugh them off as “oh, just another Hallmark gift I’ll never use.” But this year, she gave me something that I just can’t laugh off:

Tonight, this saying rang loud and clear in my head. YES. It is so true. Today, tonight, I knew what my son was feeling without him saying it. But, that is only because of The Orange Rhino Challenge. This challenge has taught me to tune in to my kids’ feelings. To believe they are real. To believe that kids have real emotions too. To believe that sometimes kids have bad days too. The Orange Rhino Challenge has taught me to try and first understand what a child does not say before yelling unnecessarily.

After I tucked three kiddos in I went back to tuck #1 in. As I opened his door I saw a little head perk up from the pillow and the sweetest words fell from his lips:

“Mommy, I’m so sad.”

I rushed right over. He had NEVER so clearly explained his emotions. It both broke and filled my heart.

“What’s wrong sweetie?” I asked wiping tears away from his face.

“I don’t want December to end. I don’t want to go back to school. I don’t want daddy to work. I want to play with my new toys all day. I want to stay home with you. And I don’t want to miss the Superbowl.”

Oh the innocence. The truth. I snuggled into bed with him and cried right along with him. I told him mommy felt the same way. I told him I too was sad but how happy I was for our fun vacation. I told him much I loved him and that it would be the weekend again before he knew it. I told him we could play with his toys during all the months. And not to worry, the Superbowl wasn’t until February! I gave him one last hug and kiss and walked out.

And then I thought to myself as I wiped away a last tear,

“Phew. I’m so glad I didn’t yell tonight and instead had a chance to snuggle with my son and be there for him, with him. Oh, I feel so much better.”

This is just one moment WON from not yelling. Here is another one… https://theorangerhino.com/is-it-really-worth-it/ 

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6 thoughts on “A Mother Understands.

  1. Firstly, glad you enjoyed your staycation. We are on one right now as well! Husband doesn`t go back to work til 7th though but he did work the week of Christmas as that is not a holiday here.

    This saying definitely rings true for me as well. I spend the most time with my children {they are not in daycare or “yochien” /kindy yet} and I understand them better than anyone. My older son, the more verbal he gets though, gets more and more frustrated because often I am the only one that understands what he is saying because he speaks in English 95% of the time….but everyone around him speaks Japanese. He understands everyone fine but struggles to express himself in Japanese and finds it hard when others do not understand what he is saying in English. He just turned 3 and he had speech delay so his pronunciation is still a little off a lot of the time but as his mama I understand what he is trying to say 99% of the time even if it is clear or not.

    Just yesterday he was having a tantrum about wanting my husband to “carry” him and he was saying “please dadda, carry, dadda carry” over and over and my husband did not understand {and he was getting frustrated too} as it did sound more like he was saying “curry”. I knelt down and said to him “Noah, daddy needs you to ask in Japanese. In Japanese you need to say “dako” or “dako shite” for carry, okay”…..All day yesterday he would keep asking daddy in Japanese “Daddy, dako shite please” …so yes, he mixes his languages but he was so proud once he asked and daddy understood. In the afternoon when he saw his grandmother {Baba} he ran to her and said “baba, dako shite” knowing she would now understand him too.

    I hope your son adjusts to going back to school okay.

  2. I am so glad I came across this website. I hope I can get to the “place” you are at now. I have tears in my eyes after reading this post. I have two boys, 7 and 5. No one ever told me it was going to be easy to be a mom. Lately, I have been yelling a lot and I feel so terrible (and overly bitter when my husband points it out). He yells too, and I hope that by learning from this site, I can teach him what I learn. We both don’t yell out of meanness…but I am pledging to stop it. I didn’t like the yelling when I was young, so I know how the boys feel. I can’t wait to become a better mom and this is my first step!

    • Hi! I am so glad that you found this too! You CAN get to the place I am at. I was bad, more of a raging screamer than a yeller. If I can do it, you can especially since you know that you didn’t like being yelled at when you were young. Remember that and it will help you be empathetic. I was yelled at by an adult early on in this challenge and it hit home how crappy it felt. It was a huge motivator and you have that already. Involve your boys – my 6 and 4 year old love saying Orange Rhino to me when I am cranky and it stops me. They gave daddy a name too – The Green Turtle. Good luck and please please please email me if you have any questions or need support on a bad day. That’s what I am here for 🙂 Have a good day and remember, you are a good mom! You have already said you want to change and you are trying too. That is huge!

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