I will never forget the morning I was outside in my driveway playing with my boys and two of them started melting down at precisely the same moment and then wailed together at precisely opposite moments creating a loud, screeching symphony of horrific sounds. Their oh-so-not-beautiful chorus of yells lasted a good couple of minutes and could be heard around the block I am certain, and obviously by my three neighbors walking by at that exact moment. I began to usher my boys into the garage trying desperately to remain calm and collected in front of my new audience. With both yellers inside for a break to chill out and wipe snot of their faces, I ran out to get a lost lovey and instead found the eye of one of my neighbors.
“Oh Orange Rhino, that was quite impressive how cool, calm, and collected you stayed during that. I don’t know how you do it! We heard them before we even reached your driveway!” she laughed.
I laughed right along with her and replied,
“Yeah, kinda loud right? Oi! But thanks for the kind words. And, um, trust me, I am so not cool, calm, and collected, but thank you!” I felt grateful for the compliment, but also embarrassed because I was yet to be an Orange Rhino and I was anything but cool, calm, and collected when I was inside my house and free of potential judgment from a public audience.
“If only she knew the truth,” I thought to myself as I ran inside as the yelling symphony kicked in full force again…but this time with a third voice. Mine. I never yelled in public for fear of said judgment, but in private, well, that is a whole different story.
An entirely different and ass backwards story.
In private, I assumed no judgmental eyes watched me so I felt more comfortable yelling like a banshee. Obviously, I should have had my vision checked every time I thought that. Did I not see the beautiful children standing in front of me, watching me every second of every minute of every hour of every day? How did I not get that they too were an audience and that they most definitely judged me and came to nasty thoughts about me that I would never dream my children would think?
Fortunately, shortly after my neighbor’s comment I finally fully embraced that my kids were indeed also my audience, my way more important audience, and I didn’t want to just appear cool, calm and collected in front of neighbors and others, but, for the sake of my children, I wanted to be cool, calm and collected in private as well. The Orange Rhino Challenge was born very soon after that and I began my journey of yelling less and loving more. And I actually began feeling comfortable and confident saying, “Yeah, I am cool, calm and collected, and it feels great,” a lot more often.
Yes, now that I am an Orange Rhino, on most days I feel cool, calm and collected. Those days it does feel great to be so “together” and I feel ever so grateful that I took The Orange Rhino Challenge and that it pushed me, that I pushed myself, to change and be the same person in public and private. But let’s be real. There are also days, or at least moments, where as much as I try to be cool, calm, and collected I am much more like frustrated, frazzled and f…g fed up!
Yesterday morning I was definitely in “F” territory. Frustrated. Frazzeld. Fed up. And feeling like a really big failure. #1 has not transitioned back to school well at all (have any of us?) and woke up so elated that it was Sunday and not a school day that he bounced off every square inch of every wall in our house possible. And I? Well I had yet to drink my Gummy Bear juice and was not bouncing here and there and everywhere! #1’s energy of course got my other sons going so soon I had four bouncing off the walls boys and I just couldn’t find the energy to join the circus (often times a good alternative) even though it was evident that the boys were having so much fun laughing together being silly. Although their energy and shenanigans caused no harm and they were all playing together beautifully (an outright miracle these days,) I still felt the need to put an end to it. So I became cranky, cold and crotchety.
“Knock it off,” I snapped.
“NOW.” I repeated, a little more firmly and a lot more frantically than my first statement.
I just needed quiet and peace immediately so I could start the day more smoothly, and well, so I could get to my cool, calm, and collected happy place! Even though I didn’t yell, I didn’t like my voice and I certainly didn’t like that I poured my poisonous attitude into the happy morning, sucking the cheerfulness of my four bouncing bears right out of them as evidenced by eight eyes blankly and sadly staring at me.
So I corrected the situation as best as I could.
“Sorry I snapped guys. I just need some coffee and to wake up a bit. You can keep all your energy and playing going – just take it to the basement where you can be as silly as you want, ‘kay?”
Their eyes softened and they ran yelling into the basement. And I, I immediately made my coffee! As I sat at the kitchen counter, my mind started going back to “F” zone instead of the cool, calm, collected zone as hoped.
“Ugh. I failed. I handled that in a way I don’t like and haven’t done in ages. I am so frustrated with myself.”
And then the coffee must have kicked in because my mind went where it needed to,
“It’s okay. So you snapped. Let it go. You’ll do better next time.”
And better I did.
Because the wonderful thing about kids is that they give you lots of chances to practice handling “tough” moments “better next time.” Ha! Yes, my boys give me lots of chances to practice being cool, calm, and collected, like when they decorate the house in toilet paper to make a snow storm, peel an orange while walking around the house and leaving the peel every where, and refuse to get in the car and instead engage all brothers to stage a protest of all errands.
But, and more importantly, they also give me lots of chances to fall head over heals in love with them again and again and again with their outright adorable stories, infectious laughs and tender hugs and kisses. But here’s the catch.
I can only fully embrace these chances to love more if I forgive myself when I have a so-called “failure” parenting moment and find myself totally frustrated with my behavior. Yes, I can only take these chances to love more if I tell myself it is okay that I wasn’t “perfect,” and that I can, and will, do better next time.
If I don’t forgive myself and move forward the only chance, no the only certainty, is that I will miss out on the chance to see and embrace opportunities to love my kids more because I will be too busy loving myself less. And well, that just isn’t something I want to do anymore. Been there, done that and missed too many stories, laughs, and snuggles for years before becoming an Orange Rhino. Letting go and believing I will do better next time is what I want to do, what I am doing, because well for this Orange Rhino,
Failure is out and Forgiveness is in.
There are days and moments when I will feel frustrated, frazzled, and f… fed and I will be tempted to add “failure” to the mix. But on those days, in those moments, I will fight to add forgiveness instead because it is a huge key to getting back to the cool, calm, and collected world where yelling less and loving more happens much more readily!