Love beats Fear

342 days of not yelling, 23 days of loving more to go

Dear Orange Rhinos,

Tonight I share a guest post written by a friend of mine, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela. While this post isn’t about yelling, per say, the take away is one that most definitely applies and well, it really inspired me and I just couldn’t help but share. Natalia teaches a class called intenSati in New York City that combines movement and affirmations – this year’s mantra is LOVE BEATS FEAR… this is MY YEAR! I read this post and immediately thought WOW, what mom doesn’t feel afraid? Gosh I can count the amount of times I have felt afraid on one hand, wait, I don’t have enough hands! I felt afraid when I realized one year ago that I yelled too much. I felt afraid when I decided I wanted to yell less and love more. I felt afraid when I thought I was the only mom that yelled too much. I felt afraid when I dropped my son off at Kindergarten. I felt afraid when my son started having seizures. Oh yes, fear is a friend of mine, both in my life as a person and as a mom. I share this guest post tonight because I know a lot of you are excited to join my “30 days to yelling less” project and because I know a lot of you are also AFRAID of the hard work, of the change. But I also know you love your kids. I hope this post will inspire to focus on your love for your kids and not your fears. Don’t let your fear hold you back from changing; instead let your love for your kids grow.

The Orange Rhino


Choose Love over Fear in 2013 by Natalia Mehlman Petrzela

“Everything happens for a reason,” the saying goes, and the same self-help culture that gives us that maxim has made it reflexive to respond to bad things by seeking “the lesson” or even “the perfection in every moment.” Clichéd as it’s become, this dogged commitment to find meaning in — or even gratitude for — adversity is probably a good thing, even if the quest for a “takeaway” from tough moments is occasionally only a temporary distraction from the drama.

I tried, like many parents and people, to make sense of the double-whammy fate dealt in late 2012: first the Krim family tragedy in which a Manhattan mother came home to find that her trusted nanny had brutally taken the lives of her two children, and then the Newtown shooting in which 20 young children lost their lives, many in the first-grade classroom of their suburban schoolhouse. Hurricane Sandy and the destruction it wrought in the intervening weeks added to the sense that tragedy, and random tragedy at that, was closing in on us, and fast.

The only message I could discern in these arbitrary and terrible acts was powerful, and hardly positive: Danger lurks everywhere. No one can be trusted. If my children are out of my sight, it’s entirely possible they are in mortal danger.

And what were the fruits of this lesson?

After the Krim murders, at work (at a job I love), at the gym (my indulgent “me” time), and every moment my children were out of sight, all I could think about was how they might be at risk. Each night, my hand shook as I opened the door and it wasn’t until I had them in my arms that I realized I had been holding my breath, terrified of what I might find. Then I would feel terrible for mistrusting our wonderful, caring nanny and hide my feelings with false humor… And the next day the cycle would start all over again, only slightly mitigated during the hours I felt my son was “safe” at preschool.

And then the Newtown shooting happened. With another “safe space” invaded, fear resurged. I’d sit at my computer and realize twenty minutes had passed in which all I had done is map out the danger zones in my son’s school and conjured various worst-case scenarios involving my children. I couldn’t wait for the holidays — a time when I usually jokingly gripe about lack of childcare — so I could have my little ones in my care 24/7. Then everything would be perfect, right?

Well… on the first night of our vacation, far from these incidents and the relentless coverage of the fear-mongering American media, I was preparing to bathe the kids after a jaunt in the hotel swimming pool. I was holding the baby and telling my son (repeatedly) to stop playing with a glass door as my husband showered. Then, standing right between his two watchful parents, my son slammed the door into the wall, shattering it into thousands of pieces and leaving him and my husband covered in blood and glass. My scariest mommy moment to date was mercifully short: the cuts didn’t even merit stitches, my son skied for the first time not two days later, and he now boasts about the ambulance ride to the spotless Alpine hospital in which he spent just one night. We are all still breathing sighs of relief.

Once again, I sought “the lesson,” since my assumption that my presence could fend off danger had shattered as readily as the door, and this time it was crystal clear: there are things to fear ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE. Our choice, however, is whether or not to let fear define our worldview. If we do, these anxieties will surely disfigure all our experiences, whether or not they “come true.” When we are fearful, it is inconceivable to engage with the world lovingly or happily. Anything beautiful – from a child’s independence to a peaceful workout to full engagement with one’s work – is impossible to appreciate if fear is constantly creeping in to whisper what tragedy might lie around the corner.

So in this month of resolutions, I have a modest proposal, but one that is already transforming my own experience of my children and my life. I am determined to choose love over fear, no matter what. I know I cannot safeguard my family completely, but I also know I can deliberately embrace uncertainty as representing possibility rather than peril. I know I can choose to be present in every moment, whether I am reading bedtime stories, writing, running, or doing the three-hands-and-heart-full juggle inherent to parenting young children. No matter what happens, I know that it is in my control to spend my time enjoying the beauty that is in my life already, rather than fearing that one day it will be wrested from me. And to me, that is the most important lesson of all.

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1 thought on “Love beats Fear

  1. While i do agree that not yelling is tough, i also, from experience, have had to count on somedays it seems to 100, while young my daughter came out knowing every button to push, but then again isn’t that the point? However, as i read the part about the neuro, i had to laugh, why , as mothers, we get so stressed out over a dr. appt with our children used to be a mystery to me, then one day it hit me, Like a brick wall, duhhhhhh you carried them, gave birth to them, want only the best for them, and felt real small then. Even tho we have no control over our reaction, we can learn different ways. I learned that the more i yelled the more she tuned me out, Sooo VS yelling as she acted out, i reacted with more of a positive step, no fluffy words, no sugar coating what i was feeling, I stopped in the middle of the store, said ENOUGH. She kept on…And on and on and on….So i parked the buggy, knowing i need half that stuff in there, but grabbed her by the hand and walked out. The look on her face was priceless looking back now. So if not in the mood to be ohhhhh Soooo “Sweet” be proactive. Stop it. then and there. Just stop. she was so shocked she never ever kept on at me again. I remember the little voice that said but ” mommy the stuff” I said ” You point is???” and kept going. not one word between us on the way home. Later that night after i had cooled down and left her with my mom to go buy the stuff i was getting and her a toy, she did not get the toy, she really did not need anyway, but i got the supplies we needed to live, I sat down with her and explained ” The more you stay at me? The more this is going to happen and the less you will get. Am i clear.” I get ” yes” That was good enough as i did not believe in yes mam, just not yeah, i wanted a yes. And I got it. from there on out she found out if I don’t behave I may not get the fruitless little what ever I want so I will be quiet. So the less you say, screams volumns to them, I wish you all the luck in the world, because I now know what my mom meant. God allows us to have children while we are young because as we age we are unable to put up with them, no truer words have ever been spoken. Good luck, God bless and all else fails wait until a trian goes by and go outside and scream your lungs out. Sincerely, and with you, Sharon

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