Learning to “Hold” a Yell

When I loaded the boys into the mini-van for our four-hour drive north last month, I assumed that no one would sleep and that we would need to stop every hour for someone to go pee. I mean assuming anything else was just setting myself up to be frustrated and annoyed, right?! So I mentally prepared myself for a long trek with lots of noise and lots of stops. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t try to make a peaceful, quick trip happen though! Yep, I had everyone try to pee twice before we left and I timed our departure with naptime for #3 and #4.

Well wouldn’t you know it. Within fifteen minutes of driving, not one, not two, not three, but ALL FOUR of my boys were sleeping! And wouldn’t you know it, an hour and a half later they were all still sleeping! Which is great, right? Miraculous even. Well yes, and no.

No because I had drunk a cup coffee to stay awake and had forgotten to try and pee twice myself! Yes, this mama had to pee wicked bad and there was absolutely, positively no way in hell I was going to pull over and wake up four sleeping kids to pee. Nope, wasn’t gonna happen. I didn’t even entertain the idea! You couldn’t have paid me to pull over and end my quiet, peaceful and easy drive up north. Sure I had to pee so badly that I had stomach cramps but the downside to that was far less than the upside of my boys not yelling at each other, asking me “are we there yet?” over and over, and complaining that they had nothing to do.  Pulling over just wasn’t an option. And then again, peeing in my pants wasn’t really an appealing option either.

So I did what I think most parents would do in said situation; my boys slept and I squirmed.

And I crossed my legs. And I squeezed. And I looked out the window for distractions. And I tried to think about everything but peeing. And I told myself over and and over “that I can do this, just a little bit longer, I can do this.”

And then, well then I had an Orange Rhino moment and I laughed so hard at my absolute ridiculousness that I had to squeeze even harder because after four natural births, well, you know, sometimes pee happens.

You see it donned on me at that moment that learning to hold pee and learning to hold a yell are very similar.

They both take paying attention to signals that you are about to explode and then acting accordingly to avoid said explosion.

They both take focus and putting mind over matter.

They both take practice and doing it over and over so you can go longer and longer.

They both take distractions so that you don’t think of the strong desire to do said action.

They both take positive thinking, telling yourself over and over that you can do it.

They both take choosing to do all of the above no matter how hard because the alternative is not really a desired option.

And they are both behaviors that can be learned and achieved over time!

Seriously, all ridiculousness aside and the fact that it is a wee bit crazy that I compared not yelling to not peeing in one’s pants, just think about the similarities. It is kind of uncanny, right? When I stopped and realized the similarities (which by the way was a great distraction and kept my mind occupied on something besides the growing need to pee my brains out), I couldn’t help but to think,

“Wow, all the skills that I thought I developed to not yell I didn’t really just develop, I already had them and had them since I was a child when I got potty trained! I just applied them to a new situation.”

My point in sharing this story and risking looking like a total fool for comparing something as difficult and personal as learning to not yell to something as trivial as not peeing in one’s pants is this: you already have some of the skills to yell less. You already know how to work hard to control yourself physically.

Yes, the desire to yell is a heck of a lot more intense and frustrating; it’s a heck of a lot more anger filled and most definitely a heck of lot more emotionally charged. I am not in any way trying to diminish that. I guess what I am trying to say in a most absurd but also light way to combat the heaviness of yelling as a topic is that…

You can do it.

You can yell less.

You have the skills within you already. You just need to apply them in a slightly different manner. Here’s how:

  1. Pay attention to your personal signals that a yell is coming on so that when you feel them the next time you know to run to the bathroom and scream in the toilet instead of exploding at the kids.
  2. Focus all your energy on one task, one goal, that of yelling less. Focusing on too many goals at once is too much stress!
  3. Practice not yelling over and over again. Accidents happen, trust me, since my fourth son was born I have had two. Totally mortifying. But hey, it happened and I learned that I need to focus harder on not laughing on a full bladder! So if an accident does happen and you do yell, forgive yourself. Let the shame and embarrassment go and know that there will be another opportunity to practice and succeed.
  4. Set yourself up for success by placing distractions around the house, or rather reminders to not yell. Place pictures of the kids in yell zones (great way to feel love not anger) and place orange rhinos up to remember to be warm and calm.
  5. Be positive and believing in you; tell yourself over and over that, “I can be calm and not yell.”
  6. Choose to not yell because you know not only does yelling not work, but that is just isn’t a good option. Choose to hold it together, to squirm, and to squeeze your hands in frustration instead of yelling. Choose to try your hardest even on days when you want to scream your brains out.
  7. Tell yourself that you are learning to yell less and that it takes time, just like potty training. I know wasn’t born knowing how to hold my pee or um, other things. Just ask my parents or the nice couple at the beach sharing a romantic picnic. I may or may not have walked over to them totally naked at age two and squatted on their blanket and left them a present. Like, a smelly one. Moving right along…. Seriously, it takes time to learn how to not yell but it can be done!

Okay, it’s official. This post is weird. I just told you that I pooped on a blanket as a kid and that I have pee accidents at the age of thirty something. If nothing else is achieved from this post, I hope you are laughing with me. Because laughter is a great way to be in a good space to achieve all of the above!

Happy holding your yells (and pees!)

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18 thoughts on “Learning to “Hold” a Yell

  1. I hurt my child today. No, not physically. I hurt his heart. I know, that is even worse. I know because I had an emotionally and mentally abusive mother. I have have never, ever been that Mom. I have breathed and Om’ed my way through breastfeeding woes and pre-talking tantrums and teething fits and sleepless nights and learning to walk and throwing toys and potty training and the debilitating shyness of my 2-year-old. I had planned a wonderful day of play and bonding for today, and that it what we had. So sweet, so gentle. Until just 1 hour before bed. The whole thing started with our post-nap meal. Or maybe with the fact that his new freedom in a toddler bed generally means no naps, not for him and not for Mama. So he played through his nap, in bed, and made enough noise to keep me from napping down the hall. I dealt okay with that. Then I had to make a lunch meal, I had chosen a new recipe that was supposed to only take 30 minutes. Nothing made of whole grains takes the short time they say it will, and I knew that. But, after 2.5 hours of stirring and stirring and making snacks to tide over myself and my child it was FINALLY done. It tasted delicious. And my generally non-picky son wouldn’t eat a bite if it. Not a bite…and it was filled with mushrooms, his favorite. Then, his hours of patience now dwindled to nothing, he wouldn’t play or even just sit and let ME eat it! I am pregnant. I am starving. I looked into his beautiful blue eyes, after suggesting, then asking, then begging him to let me eat and I shouted. I lost it entirely, worse than I ever have. I picked him up roughly, I pushed him into the living room and I slammed the door in his gentle, loving little face, shouting, “Go and play!” His heart broke. He was sobbing and shaking. He ran around to the other kitchen door and burst through it, pleading, “Hug Mama, hug Mama!” My heart broke. Yes, I was angry. But, what was I doing? Can’t I remember all the times that my Mom insulted me, screamed at me and pushed me away? Don’t they scar my view of myself and my relationships to this day? I had to pick him up. I knew if I didn’t pick him up and hold him as tight at possible right in that moment that it was going to get worse, that I might harm his little angelic body, a body that I wanted, that I created. So with him held tight in my arms I decided to remove myself from the kitchen. Seeing the food that I couldn’t get to eat was making me fume even more. I walked with him to our “quiet room” but just before we crossed the threshold I lost it again. I looked in his crying face and screamed, “It took me 3 goddamn hours to make that food and you won’t even let me eat it!!!” My volume was full roar by the last 4 words. He stopped crying, out of pure fear. In that moment I lost touch with my spirit, my soul. And I threw in the towel. None of this was worth it. I entered our quiet room, sat on the floor with him in my arms and kissed his face, kissed his head and hugged him for dear life. I said, “I am so sorry honey. I did not mean to yell at you or scare you. Mama is just SO hungry and I want to eat.” He responded that he wanted to eat too, but I knew that this wasn’t so, just an attempt to please. I said, “No, lets just sit here.” But he really “wanted” to eat now. I asked if we could have a picnic in the quiet room and he said yes, so I retrieved our plates and we ate small bites together. I tried to move on, to play before bed time and tickle and he did seem to move on, but I cannot. I was my Mom. For one horrible, terrifying moment, I was my Mom. I have never, ever gone there, I have worked hard to find coping mechanisms that ensure I won’t ever go there, and today I did. Yes I probably yell too much, or rather snap and warn and chastise, all of which I know I need and want to change, for my child’s self-esteem and my own happiness. But now, I don’t know if I can ever go back to thinking that I am a kind and loving mother. I know, from my own life that I cannot undo what I did to my son’s heart today. He is good and smart and fun and loving, but will he forever think now that his Mama wants him to go away and shut up? That barley is more important than his mother’s love for him? I cannot even imagine eating that meal now, the one that had more importance in my mind than my dearest loved one, even for a fleeting, maddening second. How can I ever forgive myself?

    • I am thinking about you today. This week so far has been fairly calm at my house and I am praying for you to have strength and wisdom. I yell too much and am very hard on my oldest daughter, my 14 year old. It is especially tough when she turns it around and acts just like me. Know that it is never too late to start trying. You obviously love your family. Have a great week!

  2. You are seriously awesome! This is my favoritest post of many. You are like the kind friend who just makes you feel good about yourself and your un-perfect efforts. The kind that makes you feel like the best person/parent in the world because you CARE about trying your hardest! Thank you so much for sharing yourself like this…as always!

  3. You are absolutely right on with this post! You can learn NOT to yell, anyone can, just like you can learn to hold in pee, lol. But one thing perplexed me: how did you drive with your legs crossed??

  4. This was great…made me chuckle. I’ve fallen off the “no yelling wagon” since school started (I’ve also been considering surgery for the incontinence issue.) Now I’m feeling re-energized to get back on track (and NOT have surgery!) Thanks! 🙂

  5. This is the funniest post I’ve read about not yelling – but also the best! I’m about to potty train my 2 year old, so that has been on my mind a lot recently. I guess it is time to put those skills into practice for myself also.
    Thank you so much.

  6. I’ve had a similar situation…I like Lisa reached for a diaper. However I was worried I would out pee it and I could not, COULD NOT, make my self go. I tried for like 10 mins. Potty trained too well guess. Maybe I needed to sneeze to get going. Held it until the kids woke up.

  7. Thank you for sharing! Now I will share a secret; keep a diaper within reach for those desperate times when you are the only adult in the car on a road trip with sleeping kids and you just can’t bear to stop!

  8. LMAO! Love it! This is the best post I’ve read in a while & so true. I’ve only had one kid & I dread the surprise sneeze everyday. My husband teases that I must have been born with “mommy bladder” because the problem has only increased since having our son. You’re right though, we already have all these skills. We just need to practice applying them in other situations, like not yelling.

  9. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I’ve printed out the “steps” and posted them in the kitchen so I can continually remind myself. Great post!

  10. Bahahahaha laughing so hard I have to pee! I can so relate to needing to pee and the terror of pulling over and waking sleeping kids.
    I love the analogy of learning to control ones temper the same as ones bladder. If we can learn to hold our pee and other things then surely we can learn to control our yells.

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