372 days of loving more!
Last Wednesday I wanted to celebrate my 365 days without yelling by doing something fun with my boys. I decided on cake (what’s a celebration without cake?!) and releasing 12 orange balloons into the sky. The key? My boys and I were all going to run and SCREAM “WE DID IT!” at the top of our lungs while we let go of the balloons.
I was lucky enough to have my neighbor take some pictures to commemorate the moment. I didn’t think to video tape the scene which actually worked out fine. I couldn’t scream. I kid you not. I went to scream and it felt awkward. I was scared to. I couldn’t believe it. See that’s the thing. I think I have come to realize over the past year that more so than being a yeller, I was a screamer; a real screamer. I so disliked that part of myself that it seems my voice no longer goes there. It was an out-of-body experience to not be able to scream. But it was also really cool.
We released the balloons and then stopped. They were stuck. My poor planning had me running towards a bunch of trees. DUH. The balloons had no where to go but the branches. Which actually was very symbolic. Here I was releasing the balloons, much like I used to release my frustration my yelling, much like I have released my old yelling self, and they, much like me, got stuck. When I first tried to stop yelling, I didn’t know what to do instead so I felt stuck. And now that I am a so-called non-yeller, I don’t know what to do with myself or the blog, and I am stuck.
I had been plagued with he question of “What now?” as my year started coming to a close. And here I was, my 365 days challenge over, still wondering, “but what now?!” Am I done? Is the blog over? Do I start yelling again? I was stuck. I didn’t know my next step and so it was apropos that the balloons also, were stuck.
One by one they released. And as they released and flew higher and higher away, I heard my eldest son, my sensitive one, crying louder and louder.
“Oh my gosh, what’s wrong?” I asked. “Are you sad your balloon is gone?”
“No. I mean yeah, but no.”
“Well what then?” I asked nervously.
“I don’t want your blog to be over. It can’t be over. I don’t want you to start yelling again. I didn’t like that mommy.”
Oh. My. Gosh. I love this child!!! (And all the other ones too of course; he is just the oldest and most aware at this point!)
“Oh sweetie, don’t worry, mommy isn’t going to start yelling again!!!”
“Promise?” he asked.
“Promise.” I said.
“Okay, well good. Can we go eat cake now?”
“Of course.” I quickly answered; agreeing to cake is easy peasy!
And off we went to stuff our face with frosting, I mean cake! As we walked inside the last balloons struggled free and went into the sky. They were unstuck and so was I. I knew after talking to my son that my blog must go on. A conversation with my four year old over cake confirmed it.
“Mommy, now that you’re done with the blog you have to do it again and again until you turn, um, 60. And if you need to, ya know, blow a bubble and then do a push up.”
“Oh I see. And why is that? Do you like Orange Rhino Mommy?”
“Oh yes. Because when you get mad at your kids its not nice to yell at them so you should stay never yelling so you should stay on the orange rhino blog forever.”
Okay, I don’t know if I am going to blog forever or until I am 60, but I do know that I am going to try and go another year. Not just because my kids give me good reason, not just because you all have given me good reasons, not just because I want to, but because I need to do it for me.
I need to make sure that this habit of mine, the yelling one, is gone. I need to make sure that I can continue to not yell even without the 365 days goal to inspire me. I need to make sure that I really have changed and that I really am no longer a yeller. Just because it has gotten easier to not yell, and just because I have gone 365 days, doesn’t guarantee that this year will be smooth sailing. Bad habits die hard they say AND they take constant vigilance and attention in order to make sure they don’t come back. I need this year of continued vigilance to help keep my “no yelling” at bay.
And besides, every year, life throws different challenges at you. Sure, I made it through is past year without yelling, but the true test will be this year when I get a whole new set of challenges and the “honeymoon” of my new habit wears off. Already I am seeing myself be tested. I am prevailing because what I learned in year one but clearly, the opportunity exists to keep learning.
And I welcome that. Learning is good. I will still blog and keep the page going for another year. That is indeed my goal. I will focus a lot more on personal triggers and how to manage them in order to be in a good place, a non-stuck place, so that I remain calm and happy and therefore patient enough and in control enough to not yell. There is indeed so much more to learn in order to keep yelling away!
I have always said learning to yell less is a process, and my process is still going. I don’t anticipate yelling again. I do hope though that I can learn to be less snappy and less grouchy on days like today when the stress is through the roof. In this case I should write through the rotten, moldy black floor that is now a hole in my house. But I digress. Because while I didn’t yell today, I wasn’t as pleasant a mom as I know I can be. And I would like to see more pleasant days this year. So I am going to keep working. Am I trying to be perfect? NOT AT ALL. Because if there is one thing I learned this year, it’s to love myself, to forgive myself and to let go of perfect. I am not a robot. I make mistakes. I can be grouchy. My goal is just to have more of the not-grouchy and to tell myself on those days when I am grouchy despite my best efforts that “hey, it’s okay, you tried your hardest, keep it up.”
Keep it Up.
Yes, I will keep this blogging thing up. I will keep this not yelling thing up, and I will keep this being part of The Orange Rhino Community “up” because all three things are bringing goodness to my life that I am not ready to let go of! Balloons I can release; these three things, not so much.