Baby Steps ARE Big Steps

13 days of loving more year two, 442 days running total

Dear Orange Rhinos,

This is another, pull up your chair, grab a cup of coffee, tea, or wine and a box of chocolates kind of post. Expect typos, lack of clarity and a boat load of enthusiasm. Actually now that I am writing, forget the aforementioned beverages, it’s more like a champagne kind of night for me, for all of us. You’ll see why.

I wrote something in response to two comments today that got me thinking, really, really thinking. Several of you wrote about something you achieved, eluding that it wasn’t much; that you still yelled, but baby steps were taken and that is good. And then there was the question… “Right?”

And my answer…HECK YEAH!

Baby steps are BIG steps, big time!

Now, I don’t know what those of you who wrote those wonderful comments were feeling at the time and I will not presume to know. So I will just tell you my story. I am terrific at playing down small successes in my life. I don’t know why, I just do. But really, again,

Baby steps are BIG steps, big time!

Think of it. When a baby takes a first step, I don’t know about you, but I run for the camera, the phone, the video camera, the everything electronic to record it. To record the one, singular small, step. Shoot, even the quarter of a first step I recorded and then jumped up and all around like a happy monkey shouting for joy. “You did it! You did it baby! You walked!” It was a baby step literally but it was a BIG step and it was celebrated appropriately with hoopla galore!

Think of it. The first drop of pee in the potty. Not a full on pee, fill the potty (or in my case, spray the piss all over the potty) type of pee, but just a drop. I don’t know about you, but I have never been more excited about pee in my life until I saw the singular first baby drop ever so slowly drop into the toilet water. I think I called everyone I knew when each child peed in the potty for the first time. It was a little itsy bitsy baby pee but it was a BIG step and celebrated appropriately with hoopla galore!

And forget kids for a second.

Think of it. The first time you held a boy’s hand because he liked you and you liked him and you were “going steady.” It wasn’t any major stop the presses romance or full on intimate existence (shoot, I was what, in fifth grade, we won’t even talk about when my first kiss was…way too embarrassing!) but yet it mattered. It was a baby step towards the beginning of a relationship, it was a baby step at the beginning of a lifelong journey of relationships, but it was a BIG step at the same time and celebrated appropriately with hoopla galore! (How many girlfriends did you call? How many times did you write about in your diary??? I called lots and lots. And I think I ran out of ink for my pen!)

Oh there are so many baby steps in life. I do a great job celebrating the baby steps my kids achieve and that I experience as a mom: oh baby had first words, first food, first sleeping through the night, first laugh, first crying when I left. All baby steps…all BIG steps because they show signs of growth. And I truly celebrate and document them like mad. #4 sad Mommy today. Not just mama but mommy. I think the entire playground knows that because I shouted out with such glee!!

So why, why is it when I achieve baby steps in my life as a friend, a wife, a person, that I don’t shout with appropriate glee? Why do I play the success down?

As a friend: Oh I gave my name to someone new at the PTA, I shared a small secret about my life, I called and invited a new person to dinner. All baby steps…all BIG steps because they take courage…and yet I stay quiet and say, “yeah, well, I should have done that years ago. Everyone else has the courage. I am just shy. So, big deal” instead of sharing and celebrating.

As a wife: Oh I admitted I was wrong about which night was trash night, I said I was sorry when I knew it was important even if I didn’t feel it, I didn’t nag over everything, only every other thing on my honey-to-do list. All baby steps…all BIG steps because they required selflessness and embracing the relationship, not just the me-ship…and yet I stay quiet and think “whatever, that is part of marriage, it’s what I should be doing” instead of congratulation myself on growing.

As a person: Oh I didn’t dwell as long on fights with my mom, I did something 95% perfect instead of 110%, I acknowledged I was grumpy, too grumpy with my kids and made myself laugh to snap out of it. All baby steps…all BIG steps because they required mental talking and self control…and yet I stay quiet and think “yeah, so what, you still have room to grow” instead of shouting from the rooftops that I am trying and trying hard and that is HUGE and worthy of a champagne toast.

Oh, the list could go on and on of little achievements in my life, in all our lives I presume, that we deem to be baby steps that are really BIG steps. And, oh, I could go on and on sharing the list of my excuses for why baby steps are small and don’t deserve celebration. Yes, I am the queen at playing down my baby steps in life.

Enough of that. That bologna thinking stops tonight.

Am I saying every baby step needs a parade equivalent to Macy’s Thanksgiving parade? No (I acknowledge that there is a fine line between celebrating and bragging but that’s a whole separate post.) But for me, today made me realize I need to stop ignoring my baby steps of success and acknowledge them, even if just to myself. If I can celebrate every single baby step, literally and figuratively, in my children’s’ lives, then I can do that for me and I should do that for me. Positive reinforcement helped my kids take more first steps, more first bites of foods (green beans aside, they STUNK), more risks, more of everything and will do the same for me. Baby steps are BIG steps because the first step is often scary. It takes so much courage to let go of fear; it takes so much strength to do something that is imagined to be hard or uncomfortable. And it takes positive reinforcement to make those baby steps keep happening. So again, time for me to start embracing that…

Yes baby steps are BIG steps. And they are worth acknowledging and celebrating.

Cheers to all of us!!! (Source:

So forget the wine tonight. Open a bottle of bubbly with me and Toot Your Rhino Horn LOUD AND PROUD for being here and a part of The Orange Rhino Community. For showing up and trying. For succeeding. For succeeding by learning from a yell. For succeeding by not quitting. For succeeding by finding the courage to admit you want to change. For taking the BIG baby step.

(And then take two aspirin because I don’t know about you, but Champagne gives me a wicked headache.)


All my support,

The Orange Rhino

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21 thoughts on “Baby Steps ARE Big Steps

  1. I needed this tonight, thank you. My husband is out of town and I dealt with 3 puking kids and a puking dog (WTF?) and I am exhausted. I managed not to yell almost all day, and I was really proud of myself until my 3yo came out of her room *again* and I lost it. I wanted a shower, I wanted a few moments without someone glued to me. And I yelled at her. All my hard work was lost.

    But it wasn’t. I can see that now with a shower and some time and space. I made it almost a whole day. And I am a yeller. Growing up, the one who spoke the loudest won the argument. But I did it. And tomorrow I get to try again. And I feel much better about my self.

    Again, thank you.

    • Thank you Orange Rhino and thank you Michelle for putting it this way. I too am a yeller and never put together the comparison to coming from a loud family (of the why get up when you can scream accross the house variety). And thank you for reminding me that small things add up to big change.

  2. This was a pep talk, and I REALLY needed one! Thanks and cheers, to baby steps! (Champagne makes me dizzy, but it’s so tasty isn’t it? Maybe just drink a few tablespoons!)

  3. I just want to thank you for what you are doing. I have known for some time that I yell too much but I did not know how to stop. I felt like a terrible mother and just hopeless. A friend posted one of your blogs and I found your sight and scoured it for hours. I felt such relief that I was not alone! I am on my sixth day of no yelling and there have been a couple times that I have been louder than I should have been when speaking to my kids. But I am so proud of myself and although it’s not been perfect, I am celebrating my baby steps!

  4. First of all, I had the potty experience yesterday with the 2 yr old. Not the first pee in the potty but sitting there waiting, watching for *Something* to happen and being over the top happy when it did.

    Love this and good timing. I finally made Day 1 success after 3 days of “I really mean it,I’m officially making an effort this time” trying. My proudest moment that I had to tell my husband about as soon as he came home was when both kids were running wild and wouldn’t settle down. I didn’t want to press too hard because they were just being kids but SO LOUD and SO ALL OVER THE PLACE. I normally would have shouted at them to go somewhere else but instead, I took a book and locked myself in the bathroom. I could hear them still and knew they were safe, etc but I got a moment peace. Yippee. My ‘baby’ step of the day.

    • Oh and in the last 3 days of really trying, I’ve been keeping a journal to track triggers- (or misses) and what I’d do next time. But I also keep track of success and yesterday though I didn’t make it the whole day, I typed almost a full page about a few moments I was REALLY TRULY proud of. The miss was a minor blip and a couple paragraphs.

  5. I agree that the first steps are normally the hardest, but normally the ones that put you in the right direction for success or a great learning experience. LOL…I have to laugh because I am a foster mom and today was a very rough day with dealing with mom and a dr appt. I don’t know now many times I said Orange Rhino out loud and my mom just kept laughing and actually said Orange buffalo once when I was talking to her about the situation. We both started laughing because I said no its orange rhino…lol. So yes those little steps are great.

  6. Brilliant!!!! So true and so important to remember. I slammed a plate in the sink today in frustration instead of yelling, it was still a bad reaction to the stress of the little ones not eating BUT I DID NOT yell!!! Whooohoooo A good step in the right direction!

  7. How wonderful that you wrote this tonight, just as I was acknowledging on my blog some baby steps I have been taking. I love how you have phrased this and totally agree! Thank you for this and for getting me started on the Orange Rhino Challenge 30 days ago!

  8. I have to admit that I’ve had to start this challenge over 3 days already this week. But just reading your blog tonight has made me realize that I need to celebrate the mini success of only yelling 3-4 times today…instead all day about everything.

    Tomorrow is a new day; and I will pull up my big girl panties and try again. Thanks for the great reminder that we are human and are not perfect but with all of our efforts, each step does make a difference.

  9. I SO needed this tonight. I have been taking the challenge for almost 2 weeks now and I was getting a little bummed out that I have not yet made it through 1 measly day without yelling. I can say I am yelling much less. Yea for baby steps!! Today I found myself repeating “I will not yell” at numerous points throughout the day. I’m learning. 🙂

  10. Thank you for the words of wisdom. They are all so true and I know I don’t acknowledge the good things I do, and I guess i’m not the only one. Why not give ourselves a pat on the back. We are acknowledging all the little things our kids do all day, why not atta girl ourselves? Thank you for reminding us of that. You are an inspiration to us all.

  11. I absolutely needed to read this tonight, as I lay here awake (way past a reasonable bed time)beating my self up for not taking monster steps. Thanks for sharing you experience strength and hope. Cheers to the baby steps!

  12. I feel like some days I forget about Orange Rhino all together and I am not conscious of my yelling. Then some days I ask myself at the end of the day if I yelled? I can’t remember yelling, but I am sure I did. I am working on being more aware of my yelling and how I talk to the kids. I do notice that I am unconsciously yelling less, so it’s a start.

  13. Hi,
    I am new here. I just wanted you to know that I saw your blog on Pintrest and it has changed my life. I don’t know why I never thought about how much I yell at home. About 7 years ago I made a vow to never yell in my classroom. It was not that hard for me. However, after I became a mother it did not occur to me how much I was yelling at home. Thanks for making me think. My little boys are already so much happier. You changed my life but you also changed the life of two little boys. Wow! You are good!

  14. Thank you so much for this post! I have been working through some “Junk” in my life and always beat myself up if I don’t see a lot of progress. Thank you for the reminder that baby steps matter! 🙂

  15. Hello,
    I just started my blog and one of the reasons was inspired by the orange rhino challenge. Thank you for making this no-yelling thing seem possible!
    I made it one day…but a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. And I am now one step closer!!!

  16. Thanks for this!! My baby step today: instead of screaming from the bathroom (why do they always fight when you’re in there?!?), I hit the bathtub instead! They got the point, and I didn’t have to make them feel bad! 🙂

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