107 days without yelling, 258 to go!
You asked me a while back, is it worth it? Is it really worth all the extra hard work to not yell? Heck yeah it is. Besides the obvious reasons about how not yelling is better for my children, there is one benefit I never expected. My life feels richer now. I know it sounds hokey, trust me, I know. I am the first person to call something hokey. But it is true. Because now that I am not yelling, I have shared some truly remarkable moments with my kids that I know wouldn’t have happened pre-challenge because I would have been too busy yelling at them. Tonight I had one of those moments. And just thinking about it, well, it brings tears to my eyes.
Not yelling is hard. WICKED wicked hard. But yes, it is so worth it.
The Orange Rhino
As I have written before, as much as I love my kids, by the time bedtime rolls around, I am done. I am ready to tuck everyone in, give each boy one last kiss and snuggle, and then shut all the doors and go downstairs to relax. After 7:15pm, if I hear footsteps sneaking out this mama gets pissed. Unfortunately, (or fortunately?) I can’t get pissed anymore all because of The Orange Rhino Challenge. I can’t yell and carry on like I am accustomed to doing in such situations. Tonight I was challenged. And tonight I kept my promise. And it made me cry.
I had just settled down on the couch with a nice glass of wine. I was not 10 seconds into a deep thought of “oh, this is nice. It is so quiet” when I heard footsteps slowly making their way down the hall towards the stairs. I knew immediately who they belonged to. #1. Dear, sweet, #1 who loves to sneak out and try to convince us that he needs one more cracker, a sip of ice cold water or better yet, 5 minutes of playing Angry Birds on my husband’s Ipad in order to fall asleep. AS IF.
I ever so gently placed my wine glass down. I was rather deliberate in the gentleness because what I really wanted to do was the throw the glass in the fireplace. I was that annoyed. Let’s just say it has been a looooong week. This Mama is beyond done. Between baby showers, birthday parties, school parties, doctors appointments and unanticipated speech evaluations for two more boys, I just needed some time to decompress tonight. I had no desire to play the cracker/water/ipad/I need to pee/one more book game. My patience tank was empty. My empathy tank was empty. The only thing full was my wine glass and clearly that wasn’t going to be empty soon. I found whatever self control I could muster and headed towards the stairs.
#1 knew I was coming; pretty sure my stomping feet up the stairs gave it away. The soft footsteps I heard moments before turned into a mad dash for his room. All his attempts to not be busted went out the window when he accidentally SLAMMED his door shut. I was pissed before, but now I was REALLY pissed because I was certain the loud bang would wake his brothers. I grabbed the door knob and somewhat aggressively opened the door to his room. I wanted to scream “Get back in BED! NOW!”
But before I could even open my mouth I took one look at his face. He had the look that said, “Mommy don’t yell at me. Something is wrong and that’s why I can’t fall asleep.”
I walked over to his bed, taking deep, agitated breaths that were so loud they could wake his brothers. I was still fuming. But my son’s voice defused the yelling.
I was just about to start in with my bedtime lecture when this shy, concerned and quavering voice said,
“Mommy, will you love me even when I go to heaven?” (um, holy sh*t, I wasn’t prepared for that.)
Tears in my eyes, then, and now,
“Yes, of course. I will always love you.”
“But mommy, will you love me even when you are in heaven?”
“Yes, of course. I will always always love you. Forever and ever.”
“Because you have a big heart mommy???”
“Yes, and because I love you tons and tons. I will never stop loving you.”
“Okay. I love you mommy.”
“I love you too.”
And that was all he needed to hear to fall asleep. “I love you too.”
I tucked him in again, gave him another kiss and a hug. A hug that I didn’t want to end. I wanted to hold onto that moment forever. I wanted to hold onto my son forever, for him to feel just how much I love him. For him to feel at ease, for me to feel at ease. The mere thought of him ever being in heaven before me breaks my heart. The mere thought of him even worrying about that broke my heart.
I cried leaving the room. I cried because of the innocence of the conversation. I cried because of the fear that the conversation could be true some day. I cried because I love him so much. I cried because I was so glad that I had that conversation, that I didn’t yell.
All my son needed was to hear me say I love you one more time. I can’t imagine how tonight would have gone down if I when I opened that door I started screaming like I used to. Oh wait, yes I can. He would have started bawling. It would have taken 30 minutes to calm him down. And then he would have fallen asleep upset and still worrying about whether or not I would love him forever. Instead of that, we shared a truly beautiful moment.
So yes, not yelling is worth it. Because in not yelling, I shared this moment with my son. And I don’t think I will ever forget it. Ever.
I know many of you feel like you are “failing” this challenge because you didn’t go all day without yelling. But I am sure there has been, or will be, at least one if not more moment(s) on your journey on this Challenge where you didn’t yell and in turn had an amazing moment with your child, a moment that you’ll remember forever. What was that moment? Whenever you feel frustrated, remember that moment. And remind yourself all the hard work is worth it. For extra guidance on your journey to add more of those amazing moments to your days, check out my new book, “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids–and How You Can Too!” Part personal memoir, part parenting guide, fully supportive, my book hits shelves October 2014 but you can pre-order it now. Check out the details here!