At Least: My Two Favorite Words

Originally posted January 28, 2013. Re-posted today, day 496 of being yelling free. My potty trained son just looked at me and said he had to pee. I said go to the bathroom. He said “Nope, don’t want to” and proceeded to pee all over the floor. I was pissed. Ha! Pun intended. I wanted to yell but instead mumbled to myself, well, “at least it was on the tile floor and not the rug. That would have been a real pain.” It reminded me of this post which is one of my favorites….

Dear Perspective,

It’s so nice to have breakfast with you. Whenever I start the day with you by my side, not yelling comes so much easier. I remember that kids are just kids. I remember that spilled cereal isn’t the end of the world. I remember that it’s more important to have a good good-bye than a rushed one. I remember that not yelling is what matters to me more than not cleaning up. Yes perspective, you have been a dear friend of mine during this no-yelling challenge. You are welcome to come for breakfast, lunch and dinner any time. Just know that my house isn’t always clean and that I am an awful cook.

The Orange Rhino


I remember crying my eyes out on Thanksgiving this past year. There was a commercial for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. I don’t recall the exact details but the message was clear: yes, this little boy just ran into the house with mud all over his shoes but a year ago he was in a hospital bed and didn’t have the energy to even get out of bed. The mud? It doesn’t matter. The fact that he can now walk? That matters. While the main message was all about the power of St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, I took home a secondary message as well.

The Power of Perspective.

This wasn’t a new lesson to me. I realized on Day 3, take 2 (I think) of my Orange Rhino Challenge the importance of perspective. Just tonight I found a half written post about the subject. Why I never finished it I don’t know. Maybe because I knew that the power of perspective had such a profound impact on me that I feared I wouldn’t find the right words to express how I felt.

I wrote this: “Perspective. That’s all I need. 8 out of 10 times I’m yelling for no reason at all. For example, the fact that #3 is learning to feed himself is more important than the fact that the baby just crawled in the syrup that dripped off the piece of waffle that fell on the table after it fell off the fork.” I didn’t finish the middle of the post but did write an ending:

“Somehow I made it through today without yelling. And trust me, today the odds were stacked against me. But I did it. And I think it is all because of Perspective. I stopped and looked at things differently and that made all the difference.”

Here I am 353 days after that initial attempt at a post still struggling to find the perfect words to express just how important the role of perspective played in this challenge and how I went about finding said perspective. And I can’t find all the words. But I can find two.

At least.

These are my two new favorite words.  Seriously. Add it to any moment you want to yell and voila! life seems easier as it is filled with newfound perspective. Here’s a little perspective that keeps me from yelling day after day after day!

“Oh there is syrup dripping on the floor….at least the entire bottle isn’t dripping.”

“Oh he is climbing on the table… at least he isn’t hanging by the chandelier.”

“Oh he destroyed his bedroom…at least his brothers didn’t copy him.”

“Oh my life is so crazy with three kids with different therapy needs…at least they are in my life to love.”

I could go on and on and on. I think I will, at least for a bit. Here is a little more perspective.

“Ugh. I have 362 days left of this challenge…hey, at least I have gone 3 days that is better than none.”

“Ugh. I yelled today…hey at least I am trying to not yell.”

“Ugh. I still don’t like how this post is turning out…hey at least it will be done and off my mental to-do list that is bogging you down!”

See, at least really works wonders. Does at least not suit your fancy? Substitute any other word or phrase that helps you see spin the situation into positive light. My other popular choice? I’m grateful.

“It seems I have so many triggers…hey I’m grateful that I know who I am and what I need to work on.”

No matter what words you choose, the power of perspective remains the same.

Is it always easy to find perspective when things are rough? Is it always easy to stop and say at least or I’m grateful and keep on going? No, it isn’t. Sometimes the moment is too frustrating to be able to find perspective, to even want to find perspective. And sometimes it takes me longer to find perspective than I wish. Some moments it takes 3 seconds, other times 3 hours, or even 3 days.  But when I finally find that perspective, I truly feel a weight lifted. I feel a sense of peace and calm that allows me to parent with more patience and love. Do I care that if it took me longer than desired to get to that moment, or that it was hard to get there? Nope. Because at least I got there!

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9 thoughts on “At Least: My Two Favorite Words

  1. This post is perfect! When I was pregnant, I had a lot of really scary diagnoses. My hubby and I decided to have our baby and take our chances. Our little man is beautiful and perfect. He has some delays but we’re just happy he’s here. When things are difficult and we’re having a bad day or when he won’t sleep or whatever … I remind myself … he’s here, he’s healthy and he’s perfect! I don’t know that I’ll always feel this way but it’s worked for 15 months so far.
    When I heard the news report of the Sandy Hook shooting, my first thought was – “imagine all of those parents who yelled at their kids to hurry up this morning. Or the ones who were annoyed with how slowly their kids were moving …” They’ll never be able to do that morning over again.
    Perspective …

  2. I love your site, I find your wisdom light and easy to follow, with a blended family, my 2 with adhd and 2 different types, his 2 every weekend and our 16 month old life gets so challenging. It is great to see you feed on my facebook. thanks for all that you write.

  3. I was wondering if your husband is also on the “no yelling bandwagon.”. My problem is that my husband does yell, and thinks it’s necessary to keep the kids in line. He thinks I am “too soft” with them because I try not to yell. Any advice or experience you can share? Thanks!

  4. I just started my own personal 30 day challenge a couple of days ago and this post is perfect timing! The last two days have been all about exposing triggers and finding new ways to deal with situations. Consciously thinking “at least” or “I’m grateful” is a great idea and I need all the help I can get. I’m so glad I found your site!

  5. I am glad to have stumbled upon the orange rhino. It’s been a blessing. Loved this post! Thank you for sharing what works for you. As a mother of 5, ages 6.5 all the way to 2 months, not yelling is a challenge often times…. Breathe.

  6. Perspective is critical! Thank you for the post I can so relate. With my crew many a days its the “At least” that helps me keep things calm [and participating in your 30 days challenge right now }

  7. Oh my goodness! I feel like this is an ah-ha moment. I freak out at the littlest things, all the time. I really need to chill out. Like you said it’s not the end of the world. I am way too hard on my kids, I need to relax a little and realize that things can me cleaned or fixed.

    At Least. I like that. I really hope the next time someone spills their dinner on the floor. I can remember that.

  8. I really appreciate this post. These two words have been replaying in my head and helping me through my day. “At Least” applies to so many situations and helps me feel more gratitude.

  9. This is perfect. Makes you realize things could always be worse, before you freak out. “Thank God” works too. A kid is puking “Thank God noone else is”. Husband is out of town. “Thank God he has a job.” I LOVE IT!

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