The Orange Rhino Challenge®: a 4 week Journey to Start Yelling Less (starts 1/18/24)

The Orange Rhino Challenge to Start Yelling Less begins Thursday, January 18th!
* THIS CHALLENGE HAS NOW ENDED. Sign up for Waitlist for next one is at the bottom of this post *

I know that many people set the New Year’s Resolution to Stop Yelling at their kids…I sooo get this. I know how awful it feels to yell at your kids. You are not alone in the feeling. Over 50,000 people are part of this community based on the desire to learn to yell less.

I used to yell at my four sons a lot more than I liked. So much so that I set a personal goal to stop yelling at them for a year. I achieved that goal and learned a lot about how to keep yells at bay and also about myself and why I yelled in the first place.

Even though I wrote a book about how I stopped yelling, I am still human. I am not perfect. Life is not perfect. Life can be hard and relentless. I can do everything “right” to make sure I don’t yell and yet, I “slip up” and yell on occasion because while I am “The Orange Rhino,” again, I am still human. I am not meant to be perfect. You are not meant to be perfect. Yells happen. And when they do, I repair and move onwards others I feel even worse about myself.

I want to help you feel better about yourself as a parent and as a person. We all deserve to love ourselves more, to love time with our kids more and to love our lives more.

I am offering this 4 week program so you can start or enhance your journey to yell less. Because I want to help you – and not add any weight or stress or disappointment to your life – I won’t make promises I can’t keep. I won’t tell you that you are going to stop yelling in four weeks. Learning to yell less is truly an ongoing journey. BUT I will share with you my go to 4 “tools” that I focus on over and over and over again to ensure that I am best prepared to not yell in situations where I normally would.

*This is different than the 30-Day Challenge I did a year ago. Some information is the same, but the four themes and conclusion are slightly adjusted and it is simplified.

The Journey to Start Yelling Less begins Thursday, JANUARY 18th. It is FREE. (For now. In the future, I might change that because again, being honest. I put a lot of time and effort into the program and well, my 4 boys who I used to yell at a lot, a lot are now teens and drink so much milk I might need to buy a dairy farm.)

FORMAT as of right now…
– Every THURSDAY you will receive an email with a video explaining that week’s TOOLS and action and that week’s printable pdfs.
– For the rest of the week you will get daily emails with a motivational quote and reminder of the tool/focus.
– on SUNDAY, I will offer a tweak to the tool (if applicable; we all operate differently so what works for me, might not for you) or an enhancement.
– I will write about that week’s focus at least once (probably more) on The Orange Rhino main Facebook page

You do not need to own my book “Yell Less, Love More” to participate. That said, it does have extra tips that are helpful and supportive as well as stories to connect to and that have helped others feel less alone. It is available as an audiobook and hardcover on Amazon.

So come join us! Start your journey to yelling less right now! Sign up below. You will get a confirmation email and then an email Tuesday or so with more details. So excited to be on this journey with you.

Sending warmth and strength,
Sheila a.k.a The Orange Rhino

Questions? Email me at

Waitlist – The Orange Rhino Challenge®: a 4 Week Journey to Start Yelling Less

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How I Used Compassion to Turn My Teen Son’s Mood Around and Strengthen Our Relationship

Two of my sons were mad at me.

“Why did you do it for him? That’s so not fair!” One of my sons said for me.

Another son chimed right on in, clearly thrilled that his brother paved the way.
“Seriously mom. You don’t do that for us! We have to do it? This is ridiculous!”

The Orange Rhino Overflowing Laundry Basket

My sons laundry basket is overflowing…my heart overflowed with compassion and understanding of his struggle and saw an opportunity to help.

The charge against me? I washed and put away one of their brother’s clothes while he as out at practice. Yep. Guilty as charged. On all accounts.

Do I normally have each child wash and put away their own laundry? Yep. They are capable of it and I believe if they can, they should.

But there is something else I also normally do that these two very upset brothers were missing. I help when needed. And that day, this one son needed my help.

“Guys. I actually would do the same for you, and I have. If you see someone struggling…maybe they fell off a bike, or are in the deep end of a pool and are showing distress, what do you do? What do I do? I jump in the pool and or I run over to the kid and I help. I get that kid to safety.

Your brother is overwhelmed and struggling.

When we are in that place, a messy room with overflowing laundry, it just adds to the struggle and makes it harder to get out of the bad mood. I know. I’ve been there. Some day your brother will realize that on his own, same with you. Until then, one way to learn, is for me to show him how much better it feels to have a clean room and clean clothes.

So yes, I did his laundry and picked up his room. I’d do it for you too. And notice, I didn’t do it right away. I gave a him a chance for a while. I waited. But there comes a point, when people need a little help and in this family, we help.

Okay so obviously I didn’t say those exact words because if I remembered all of that, that would be impressive. But it was close. But these, I did say for verbatim,

“And again, I would do the same for you. K? And please, please be kind to him. Someday when you are struggling, he will be kind to you. We all struggle. We will all need help someday. Remember that.”

A couple of years ago, this would not have been how the story went. Why not?

Because I would have been too stuck on the “principle” of teaching my son the importance of doing his chores and learning the hard way about how dirty laundry stinks, no pun intended.

Because I would have been too stuck on parenting the “right way” instead of being a loving human person “the right way.”

Because I would have been too stuck on listening to all the voices of society and social media telling me how to raise a good kid and likewise how to screw up. I would have been too stuck to listen to the most important voice, the voice inside of me, yelling loudly, begging to be heard, that screamed:

LEAD BY EXAMPLE that is how you truly teach and what you believe!

Show him love. Show him grace. Show him support. This is what you believe!

Show your son how to take care of mental health because that – that is the base for getting all chores done, for getting life done for that matter.

Show him how laundry isn’t just a chore, but how good clean clothes and a clean room feels. How good not having chores hanging over our heads feel.

Show him how loving acts of kindness help others and ourselves.

Now, I know some people say, “but wait a second, can’t he learn how good all of the above things are by doing it himself?” YES, yes he can. But again, sometimes, sometimes we all get stuck and need help. Sometimes, we can’t see for ourselves what we need.
I know that is true for me. Our teens, our kids are humans too. I treat them as I would want to be treated. If I was overwhelmed (oh…wait lol) I would want help to help get me through the rough patch.

* * * *

The morning after my infamous cleaning job…my son came downstairs in a PLEASANT mood for the first time in weeks. Oh my gosh, I just got all choked up.

“Mom, did you do that?”

“Yes, sweetie, I did.”

He walked over and gave me a hug.

“Thank you. It was really nice to come home to last night.”

Doing the laundry for him on occasion isn’t the end of the world…it was showing him a world of kindness. Parenting and Life aren’t always easy, but with love and support, we get through the rough patches.

Sending warmth and strength as always,
The Orange Rhino

Another popular Teen Post? 
How to Not Yell at Teenagers, According to My Teen!

Get *almost* daily stories at The Orange Rhino Facebook page about my life with my four teenagers and my journey to discover what keeps me in a goodish place, even when life is challenging and charging at me, so that I can love my life and time with my kids as much as possible.

Letting Go as Teenagers Become Independent is Hard

I told myself I wouldn’t cry.

My worried mama heart had other plans. I quickly looked away so my son wouldn’t see me as I wiped away my tears. He needed to feel my confidence, not my concerns. He needed to feel that I believed in him, that I believed that everything was going to work out okay.”

Don’t let him see your tears this time. You’re gonna be okay. He’s gonna be okay. It’s gonna be okay. Think of a happy thought.” Okay. Back to slightly more grounded. Moving forward.

I told myself I wouldn’t cry again…
but my now weary, tired mama heart had other plans. We had worked through as many scenarios as possible, but no one thought of this one.

Panic started to come in and pushed the tears out. I stayed calm. I turned my back to my son once more and called to him to keep walking with me, forward, together, as I discreetly wiped away my tears.

“He needs your strength and problem solving.” I said to myself.

“He needs your determination and calm. You got this. You’re going to be okay. He is going to be okay. It will be okay.”

“Mom, it’s okay. I’ll be okay” He said to me in a shaky, nervous voice as he walked next to me. I am sure he was also saying to himself, “You got this. You will be okay. It will be okay. Be strong. Be calm. Keep it together.” Maybe he wasn’t. But I bet he was.

“We will find a way, I promise. Not giving up yet, k? And we aren’t going to worry until we need to and I know you’ll be fine if we don’t get the answer we want.” I said to him.

I scanned the area for a loving, helpful, friendly face. Spotted! She had the coolest glasses. The warmest smile. And a mom vibe. “Come on,” I said to my son. “I see someone who looks like a loving mom who will understand. Let’s see if she’ll help.”

“Hi…” I started to talk, my voice trembling, tears forming. I explained the situation and somehow through my mumbling she understood. She didn’t hesitate. She reached out her hand, and gestured,

“Don’t worry, I got you. Come on.” And she did. She had us both.

I told myself I wouldn’t cry but here I am in Newark Airport crying again…this time not out of worry but joy and pure gratitude. I would have hugged this TSA agent if I could have.

You see this was the first time any of my kids is flying solo to visit go somewhere. I’ve been a mess. It’s a milestone. An important one on so many levels. One of growth, one of letting go literally and figuratively…for me and for my son.

We both have anxiety (I share that with permission.) He was totally ready to do this but he still wanted me to go to the gate with him. I was obviously happy to oblige He had TSA pre-check and I didn’t. He doesn’t like crowded lines (me neither buddy, me neither) or running late and the regular line was loooong. Standing in that line was just gonna add to the unspoken building anxiety that morning. This was the third unexpected mishap in fifteen minutes. Thank goodness for this wonderful TSA agent that took care of us. And here I am crying again as I sit here, on the other side of security, waiting for him to board.

I’ve been holding in my emotions for weeks and still haven’t fully exhaled. Waiting to. I’ll exhale a little at 11:00 when he lands and fully when he lands back in Newark.

Until then, I sit here with my son answering his questions and what if’s, that are helping to soothe his anxiety (and consequently, mine.) In between the questions I remind myself how proud I am of him, how far he has come and how he WILL be okay. How, lol, I can finally relax a bit after he lands successfully later today!

* * * * *

He has boarded the plane. I knew I wouldn’t get a hug goodbye – that would be too hard. He was focused on staying calm and not showing his nerves. I get it. Been there done that couple hours earlier. He walked on the jetway and the tears started. Didn’t want to be a bawling mess so I quickly turned to find a place to be in private while I waited for his flight to take off.

The Orange Rhino SunriseAs I turned I noticed the most beautiful, perfectly timed sight. The sunrise. How appropriate.

A NEW DAY, a new phase of my son’s life has begun. It too is beautiful.

I walked over to the other side of the terminal and watched the sun slowly rise. Hesitant, but strong. Like my son. I soaked in the beauty, the glow, the energy, the peace. The promise of a new day and good things to come.

* * * * *

I wrote this yesterday. He has landed. And today is another new day with good things to come.

Sending warmth and strength to you all today and always,

The Orange Rhino®


Another popular Teen Post? 
How to Not Yell at Teenagers, According to My Teen!

Get *almost* daily stories at The Orange Rhino Facebook page about my life with my four teenagers and my journey to discover what keeps me in a goodish place, even when life is challenging and charging at me, so that I can love my life and time with my kids as much as possible.


Learning to Re-Charge So I Don’t Charge (by Yelling)

I sat down at the kitchen table and mumbled, “Finally, sitting down for the first time today.”

And then I part laughed, part sighed to myself.
This wasn’t the first time I was sitting down.

I sat in the minivan driving for an hour.
I sat at the soccer game for an hour and a half minus a walk to the bathroom.
I sat in the minivan earlier, not just driving to the soccer game, but driving this kid here and that kid there.
I sat in the same spot writing the grocery list before that.
And before that I sat helping a kiddo with their homework.

In fact, I did a lot more sitting than I liked that day. A lot more. Why was I so excited to be sitting down…again? Didn’t all the sitting down earlier in the day count? Wasn’t it exciting?

I have this elusive belief that “finally sitting down” = rest.
But honestly, that is hardly what it means in my life.

Rarely does sitting down ever mean rest if I am in mom mode; or even if I am not in mom mode but my kids are awake and I am waiting to be in mom mode.

Sitting down at the dinner table?
My mind is still going and I am keeping the peace and working with my children how to resolve their conflicts on their own so we can have a civilized meal

Sitting down in the car?
I am asking for a little quiet so I can focus on the directions to the field in the middle of absolutely, positively nowhere.

Sitting down doing math homework?
I don’t think I need to explain that and I am a math dork and this stuff isn’t straightforward anymore.

Sitting down watching a tv show?
I am interrupted with dog barking, a sudden need from someone in my house, etc…Honestly I am making a shirt that says, “A mom at rest stays at rest, unless acted upon by a child.” Trademarking that now.

Sitting down by myself, kids all out and about?
The phone rings because someone needs to be picked up early.

This isn’t a bad thing. I love all of the times sitting in the car with my kids (okay, most all.) I love helping them and attempting to have family meals together. We will get there…. And also, it just isn’t exactly restful. It’s exhausting sometimes and it takes a lot of energy.

The only time my mind is at rest is when I am asleep and even that isn’t a guarantee. See Exhibit 4:58 am when I woke up before my alarm. And the only time my body is truly at rest when sitting? Is if I actively make it be and that, lol, takes work too…so then my mind isn’t at rest either.

Good news? I am aware of this predicament. I am actively working to be more restful when I can be during the say. See Exhibit photograph. The Orange Rhino is TiredI’m tired. My face isn’t healing well from skin cancer surgery. I’m getting irritable. I continue to put “intentional rest” on my priority list, or in Orange Rhino language, re-charging.

I am actively working on boundaries at home too – if I am sitting and resting – leave me be for a bit.  There’s another product. I’m going to make a hat and the back will say: “Re-charging. Do not Interrupt.” I will put it on, go to my kitchen table, sit down, put my head down, and let my message read loud and clearly.

Today, this is going to be hard. It’s go-go-go from 8:00am until 10:00pm (yeah, club volleyball is back!) So next small step? Look at my calendar and find just 5 minutes to take a break and re-charge. I can find five minutes. Or even five, one-minutes scattered throughout the day. What about you?

Sending warmth and strength today to you as always,

The Orange Rhino

Feeling tired too? Needing to re-charge? Join us in The Orange Rhino Community where we support each other and connect daily – one of the best forms of re-charging there is!

The Relationship Between Self-Confidence and Yelling Less

My Voice is Yelling at MeI knew almost immediately that I was pregnant with my third son. Intuition, gut instinct, whatever you wanna call it. 14 years ago it was strong! And 14 years ago, not only was it strong, but when I felt it, I had the strength to listen to it, without hesitation.

I’m not sure when I started losing both – my gut instinct and the confidence to listen to myself. But somewhere in the last fourteen years, I did. And in losing both, a lot of internal conflict has ensued and therefore stress endured. And really, in losing both what I mean is, losing the ability to believe in myself and trusting myself.  It’s been a challenge I’ve been working to charge through.

Without my gut instinct fully functioning these last few years, it has been hard to make decisions. I constantly seek out advice from others – exhausting for me and my circle. I make more bad decisions than I used to. I feel less confident, less safe even because I don’t feel protected by my red-flag meter.

And then when I do have an inkling of a gut instinct / knowing what I truly deeply want, but won’t listen to myself, I still struggle making decisions. I go back and forth constantly doubting myself and make no progress. Well I make progress – driving myself bonkers that is!

All this said, there is one area where my gut instinct has started to come back online. Where I know exactly what I feel. My awareness that my “gut instinct” needs some love and attention. So that is what I have been doing. Learning to believe in myself again. I’m making progress ever so slowly and can’t wait to share how with all of you. It hasn’t been an easy task, but it’s one I’m willing to work on because it’s something I want to show by example to all my kids so on their birthdays they can look back at their year and say,

“Yep, I had a good year. I believed in myself and led a life I loved that was true to me.”

Happy Birthday kiddo #3. You remind me daily to be true to me. You also make me laugh when I desperately need it and for that, I am forever grateful.

Sending you all warmth today and a reminder to be you!
The Orange Rhino

–> Part of yelling less is being in a good spot when an annoying moment happens. Part of being in a good spot is having less internal conflict. This post might not seem to be about yelling less, but it truly, deeply is. I am writing slightly differently, but trust me, if you are following to learn to yell less, all messages will take you there.

Join us in The Orange Rhino Community for support finding your inner voice and yelling less in the process!


© 2023 The Orange Rhino

The Orange Rhino Charges Towards the Future

Hi! As you know, I have been evolving. As I learned to yell less, I learned that the real secret was making sure that I was in a good place. And as I learned to be in a good place, I learned that my life needed to support my ability to stay in a good place!

That said, The Orange Rhino® is a huge piece of that and I need help figuring out how to get it to where I want it to go in the future! I can’t do it alone. You all have been a huge part of the community getting to where it is today – it only makes sense that you are a part of where it goes now! I have loads of ideas and dreams and I want you all to come along with me. Your input really matters to me. I don’t need a lot of time. Whatever you can give, awesome!

I am imagining small brainstorming calls. Maybe a few surveys. And I am imagining giving out some of the stuff we create 🙂

Share your info below and I will be in touch soon, Sheila-timeline-soon! In the meanwhile, please feel free to message me any wishes, hopes, dreams you have for The Orange Rhino community. How can I help you?! What topics beyond yelling matter to you? What products would interest you?

All my best always, and forever grateful, and I mean that!

Sheila a.k.a The Orange Rhino.Or is it The Orange Rhino, a.k.a Sheila. See? I need you!!!

The Orange Rhino® Charges Towards the Future Team!

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Gaining Teenagers, Losing Family Traditions

Today is oddly tough for me. It marks the beginning of the end of many traditions. I shouldn’t say end. I should say it marks the beginning of many changes. But sometimes changes feel like the end, don’t they?

Stone Harbor, NJ.

We first went there July 2009, a week after July 4th. Only two kiddos at this point. The place we rented was so god-awful and so bad that we literally almost left after two days. But, on day three of dealing with the smell of the apartment and kids being off-schedule, the tides turned and the beauty of the beach and the town had won us over. It was worth staying.

Fast forward one year, my kiddos were now 10 months, 2, and 3.5 ish. We decided to try again. We found a better place to rent but the only week available was late June, ending on July 5th. It felt a little early for a beach vacation in NJ; high risk of cold weather and definitely a cold ocean. But if we didn’t want a stenchy smelling apartment, this was the option. So we went with the date, hoping for the best. And well…

We, and then I, went back every week that included July 4th for the next twelve years. Thirteen years straight I have spent at the beach on July 4th watching massive fire work displays over the ocean. One year I think got rained out? That is it.

Today I am in NJ. But not at the beach.
And I am full on sad.
And I had a little meltdown about it yesterday, akin to the kind my kids had when I started going to the beach with them years ago and it was time to leave. Or the kind of meltdown they had when a seagull swooped in and took a potato chip or sandwich from their little pudgy fingers. Or the kind of meltdown they had when their beloved sand castle suddenly got washed away by a wave that came out of nowhere. My meltdown, their meltdowns, all understandable and all about the same things. Loss. Sadness. Disappointment. And all meltdowns stemming from the same place – have experienced joy.

Today, today we are home because two of my boys now have summer jobs and going away this week wasn’t possible. Last summer July 4th was a Monday so we made it work. We did a long weekend at a hotel and then drove home at 5 am on July 5th. Not possible this year. And I am sad. I am sad for losing what started July 4th, 2010 and I am sad for what starts today, July 4th, 2023.

What starts today?
Independence Day, in a way, parent/teenager style.

What starts today?
My boys having even more of their independence, their responsibilities, their summers, their plans, their schedules, their lives.

What starts today?
Family traditions changing to reflect my kids becoming even closer to young adults living independently.

Sure, traditions have slowly been changing as my kids and family changed. Thanksgiving started being celebrated every other year on a different day when I divorced. Santa Claus suddenly took on a new meaning when my kids became older. Summer vacation started ending two weeks earlier to accommodate pre-season sports. Weekends started filling up with more time face-timing with friends than having actual face time with me.

So yeah, I guess this “independence day” has been in the works for a while. But those moments, as hard as they have been, didn’t explode my heart like today. There is something so extra real and in my face about today. Something about jobs and responsibilities being the reason for our family change that just has my heart knowing it needs to take hold and hang on…that this is just the beginning of many changes to come. Years ago we didn’t want to change weeks at the beach because it was a risk and look what happened. Here I am upset that I am losing that exact change.

And so I take note.
Change can feel like the end.
It can feel risky.
And it can be beautiful and wonderful too.

So, today I am holding on and embracing the change the best I can….with full blown tears when no one is watching and probably when they are watching too. I am grateful that all my boys are here, in my home, and we can still celebrate together and I can still make them put on the Old Navy 4th of July shirts like I do every single year since 2010.

We will do the traditions we did at the beach and be together, just without the sand. So it isn’t all bad. And I will wake them up early (and they will be thrilled, insert sarcasm) and take them out to the diner for ice cream and waffles as we would if at the beach. And tonight we will have the same meal we have every year: hot dogs, hamburgers, corn on the cob with loads of butter. And then we will do sparklers. And for good measure, my boys will bicker to make the day feels like every year 😉

I will adapt and adjust today to make new memories and to make the most of what I do have – all of us together.

It isn’t the end, end. It is just the end of one tradition, to make way for new ones that are yet to be created.

Sending warmth and strength to you today…and all the Independence Days of Parenting that follow for those of us with teenagers…

How I Stayed Motivated When I Wanted to Quit

“Are we there yet?” Except it wasn’t my kids saying it, it was me thinking it, which believe it or not, is just as exhausting to hear! Why? Because the real question I was asking, “Am I there yet? Am I done?” I was exhausted responding to my mental questioning and trying to keep myself motivated.

I just didn’t have it in me yesterday.

I love my walks, truly, especially this time of year but yesterday for some reason, I just couldn’t fully get into it and well, I just wanted to take a short cut and go home. I was getting bored. I was getting antsy. I was slowing down. Even my favorite podcast wasn’t motivating me.

I just wanted to stop pushing myself to achieve my goal of an hour towards a healthier me. But did I really? No, of course I didn’t. But oh I was close. The stairs to home were right there. Calling me, “Come on Sheila, come home. It’s all good.” It would have been easy to just go left, climb the stairs, and call it a day. But then I would have been disappointed in myself and that wouldn’t have been easy.

Just then, a woman ran past me on the track, from the other direction. And it hit me, what if, what if instead of “giving up early” or “short cutting” what if I just changed direction? What if all I need to keep going was a new view, a new perspective? What if I turned around and simply started walking the other direction, following the woman?

So I did.

And wow. Same place. Same track. Same me. New view.


Expansive view.

Peaceful view.

I found myself re-motivated to keep going. And going. And going. I finished my hour easily. And with so much satisfaction and pride.

I didn’t short cut my goal (or myself); I achieved it – all I had to do was change direction.

This realization was powerful, and simple, and well, familiar. So often on the way to achieving goals, I get stuck. When I do, it is hard to remember to change it up, to try something new, to find a new perspective. But when I do, voila! My mind opens and I become unstuck and I reach a new level of motivation or problem solving.

If you are trying to yell less…
and finding yourself wanting to give up, don’t give up on the goal, just change direction. Perhaps choose a new trigger to work on. Or choose a new mantra to help you in tough moments. Or start giving yourself grace if you haven’t yet, remembering you are human and the goal isn’t perfection. Just try something new.

If you are trying to improve your connection with your teens…
and want to give up and accept it will always be this way, don’t give up on the goal of a close connection, just change direction. Perhaps try a new time of day to connect. Or a new means of communication, perhaps a hand written note? Perhaps over Dunkin’ coffee instead of in the house? Or simply cook a favorite meal that says, “I love you” and leave it at that.

If you are trying to achieve a life goal…
and you want to give up, don’t give up on the goal, just change direction. And this is where I am struggling so these next words should be interesting and fun to read. Perhaps I should try a new perspective. Perhaps I am looking at the challenges I am facing in the wrong light. Perhaps I need to add some new tools to my motivation and resilience mindset. Perhaps I need to simply slow down and accept the speed of the process, much like I appreciated the view around me as I walked the new direction. Hmmmm….

Whatever meaningful goal you are going after, itsy-bitsy, small, big, gargantuan, if you feel like giving up on it, don’t.

Simply change direction, change your mindset.

Same goal, new approach.

It won’t be easy, but then again, not going after a goal that matters to you won’t be easy either.

(And yes, there are times when our heart knows that it is indeed time to stop or even to take a pause, a break. That isn’t giving up. That is honoring your instinct and yourself. Your heart will know which direction to go. Trust it. And yes, Sheila, read your own words and take them to heart, will you?!)

Sending warmth and strength to you today and always,
Warmth because it is Monday and who doesn’t need some warmth at the beginning of a week?
Strength because going after goals is hard, hard work. Fulfilling work, but hard work. It takes determination, courage, often times composure, and strength.

You are resilient. More resilient than you realize.

Will My Teens Turn to Me When “Lost?” I Hope So.

*Tissue warning*

Ah, the good ‘ole “Lost and Found” basket at schools, at homes, at wherever.

I, of course, naturally thought about this basket soon after I thought about myself being “Lost and Found.” Because well, you all know the random connections my brain makes and also, with the end of the school year approaching way too quickly, the “Come check Lost and Found one more time” email reminders are as plentiful as ever.

The emails always make me chuckle as they reflect the trends for the year; you know, the things the teens absolutely had to have. This year? Well this years’ photos were especially funny; fancy water bottles to keep water super, duper, wicked cold, next to “hoodies” to keep one super, duper, wicked warm and cozy. Lol. I love teens. And kids. Especially my kids. Why? Lots of reasons but mostly because of alllll the photos…between all the schools…and yet not one of our missing water bottles can be found. Where oh where did they go? To the land of the spoons and phone chargers? One shall never know….

But I shall always know this.

And this deep thought came to me as I ended my walk on Sunday and it led me to tears. So here is where you grab the tissues (I had none, so sleeve it was.)

The beauty of the “Lost and Found” basket in the schools – and at hotels, and concerts, and everywhere you go, is that everyone knows that they exist. Everyone knows that there is a place to go when you lose what matters to you. And additionally, there are always meeting points and places you know to go when you are literally, lost.

I want to be the “Lost and Found” basket for my sons.

I guess I am the basket already (literally at night and figuratively otherwise.)

I am always there.
Even when empty,
when my kids are doing fine
and are on their ways
and doing well in their worlds
and not lost at all, I am there.
I remain.

Like a “Lost and Found” basket,
I am never put away.
I patiently wait for when I am needed, for when my children feel lost
and need help finding their way, however that looks.

Whether it be when they feel overwhelmed and lost in school, and need help studying so they feel confident again.

Whether it be when they feel confused and lost in a social matter, and need help navigating it so they feel comfortable.

Whether it be when they feel down and out and lost in life in general, and need help… NOPE… just need a listening ear so they feel less alone.

Or, whether it be when they feel frustrated because they literally lost something that mattered to them and need help finding it, so they feel less anxious. (Oh I get this. And oh I want to lecture on responsibility but my kids are as human as I am when it comes to misplacing things – it simply happens sometimes and when it does, I am there to help them.)

Whatever it is, whenever it is, I hope to always be the “Lost and Found” basket for my sons – the place they know that is always there to go to when they feel lost.

And I hope that when they move on to college (way sooner that I am ready to admit) and then onto their own lives and go on walks like I did and realize they are lost on a greater scale, that they still call me.

And I know that what I do today, will directly impact whether or not I get that phone call in the future. So I continue to focus on developing a strong, trusting, loving relationship with my teens (as I did when they were little ones.)

I continue to work on…

Connecting before “correcting.”
Listening more, lecturing less. (oof this is hard)
Working with them, not against them. (Same team!)
Taking things less personal, period, so I don’t overreact and escalate matters.
Remembering they are humans too – with good days and bad days, just like me.
Focusing on what matters, what really, really matters.
And making relationship repairs after I have yelled or made a mistake because if I don’t, my “Lost and Found” basket will end up with lots of rips and tears and holes in it. And I don’t want that. It is a privilege to figuratively be my childrens’ “Lost and Found” basket and I so want to remain as such. So repairs I make, as frequent as needed.

Finding my way as an adult is hard.
Finding my way when I was a teen was hard.
Finding my way AS A PARENT of a TEEN is hard.

I can only imagine how my teens feel finding their way in this world.
And so I remain.
As the “Lost and Found” basket.

Always there.
Always waiting,
even when not needed,
so that I am ready for the moment I am.

Sending warmth and strength to you today and always,


Warmth today if you are feeling the feels of the thought of your kiddos going of into the world soon,

Strength today if your child is feeling lost and you currently are there for them, remaining, listening, supporting, just being. I know how hard it is to be there. It is heartbreaking. So I send you strength (and love, lots of love, to you and your child.)

All my best,
The Orange Rhino

(And fear not dear Fellow Orange Rhinos, this lovely sign does not always exist so crisp and perfect. In fact, it doesn’t exist! It was made solely for the purpose of this picture. I wrote this post as part of yesterday’s post and decided to make it its own. Then I decided that the post needed a picture. And then well, filling the basket – which yes does exist as a “Mom’s Lost and Found Basket” was super easy to fill. It contains a hat, an iPad, a t-shirt, some socks. Actually, lots of socks. And no, no missing water bottles. Or spoons. Or chargers.)

I’m Not Looking Forwards to Mother’s Day

Full disclosure. I am not looking forward to Mother’s Day. It is a complicated day for many and not the Hallmark holiday that is offered. To all those feeling this way, I see you, I feel the pain. I send you warmth and so much love this entire weekend where you are surrounded by reminders of the holiday.

My first mother’s day was idyllic. James was seven months old and just as squishy and adorable as could be. He and his dad “made” me breakfast and we ate it outside on the most perfect spring day North Carolina had to offer. Blue skies. White, wispy clouds. Light breezes coming and going. Birds chirping. Colorful flowers lining our backyard. I received a few gifts that I wanted to make my diaper bag less of a mess but the ultimate gift was the activity I did with James. We made a painting together of his and my hand prints and foot prints. It was a mess! Paint everywhere. I was laughing. He was giggling. It was the most perfect moment motherhood could offer.

Many Mother’s Days that followed when my kids were young young were precious like that, with fun art activities or family activities where we laughed and connected. When my boys entered elementary school and started writing, the Mother’s Days cards just melted my heart. The misspellings were perfect. The sentiments perfect. The paper flowers or paper hearts, perfect. The cards were always such a nice touch to whatever was planned at home. Thank goodness for teachers.

I always felt loved and appreciated and the day was always special.

I got divorced two weeks or so before Mother’s Day.
Mother’s Day hasn’t been the same since.
It just hasn’t.

In the early years of the divorce, when the boys were younger and the schools still talked about Mother’s Day, it went better. Like I said, thank goodness for teachers. Those cards saved Mother’s Day for me. I knew that because of teachers, I would get a card on Mother’s Day. I knew that my boys would remember to say “Happy Mother’s Day.” I knew that I would get one hand-made gift wrapped in tissue paper. I knew that I would have a moment of special on a tough day.

And during those earlier years and now, to my ex’s credit, he worked with my boys to remind them and help them get cards and gifts. My boyfriend has also stepped in and done the same but…things just are working out differently, especially as they have gotten older. I know it “should” be easier because they are older, because perhaps they “should” take on the desire to do things on their own, but….It’s complicated. Thinks aren’t always as simple as they seem.

Add on the dimension of my boys bickering more because again, older, and well there hasn’t been a Mother’s Day without massive fighting that I can remember. (“Happy Mother’s Day! I hope it is peaceful!” people wish me. Yeah, right.) I am guessing the bickering is also partly because of the underlying reminder that there parents are divorced – holidays are still tough for some of my boys. That is okay. I feel that. I GET THAT. They just are. They are very clear reminders of very specific memories of togetherness as family. Even though the days were centered around me, Mother’s Day for us comes from being a family, from having a mom and dad that were together.

Like I said, Mother’s Day is complicated.
And not just for me.
It is for many of us, for a variety of reasons.

I know Sunday will have sweet moments. And I know it will have moments of sadness, of wishing it were slightly different. And I know people are reading this and are going, “Girl. It isn’t about presents or cards or yada yada.” I know that. I am well aware of that and I agree wholeheartedly. I don’t even need Mother’s Day per say but it sure is nice to have one day to help my kiddos recognize all I do, do!

And also, Mother’s Day is still hard because it is full of GRIEF.
Loss. Sadness. Pain.

There is loss of how the day used to go and pain in the fact that now I am the one asking my kids if they need help getting a card or anything. I know if I don’t ask, if I don’t give the loving reminder, the day will come and nothing will happen because again, things have changed and it’s complicated. I know my boys, they are good kids with loving, huge, well-intentioned, hearts and they would be devastated if they forgot or did nothing. (There are factors at play I am not sharing so please do not judge why I am having to give the loving reminder given their ages.)

Again, Mother’s Day is complicated.

I am planning for the ups and downs of emotions so that I can make the most out of it – so that I can find the JOY in the day and move on from the complicated, from the inevitable disappointments, from the guaranteed frustration from sibling fighting.

I have allowed myself to feel the pain – the real pain.
I have allowed myself to think and say the thoughts that are taboo – that I am not looking forward to the day.
And now, I am shifting my mindset, my expectations.
I have spent the last few days re-envisioning Mother’s Day.
I see fighting in the afternoon. I am ready for that. It is part of the picture. I expect it so when it happens I won’t be disappointed! It is part of the plan!

And I see four beautiful boys that made me mom. That’s it. Well, that’s more than it. That’s A LOT. They are the ultimate gift and my expectation is to be with them, fighting and all. Because they remind me that I get to be a mom. No pomp and circumstance around it. Four reminders that I have the honor to be their mom. And I lied. They ARE pomp and circumstance, just in their existence – they are a celebration of motherhood.

If being with them leads to actually playing some of the family games as I have requested, win. If we have a peaceful meal together, double win. But I am dropping those expectations so that I can be in a BETTER PLACE going into Sunday so that I can enjoy what the day offers, instead of what it doesn’t.

Sending warmth, strength and peace to all struggling this Mother’s Day weekend. You aren’t alone. I see you and I am thinking of you.