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And for once I was SuperMom

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Yell: Day One

We had a frustrating moment, and I lost it.  I yelled.
It happens, we all do it.  I've seen it a million times.  I've heard my friends complain about themselves, talk about they aren't doing the best job for their children.  How they are failing.
I've heard about a few moms that are doing 'no yelling' challenges on their blogs.  I've seen links bopping around Facebook, I've read a few blogs and cried while I read them.

But I balk, why stop yelling?  Isn't it good to show your children that they have made you angry?  Shouldn't they know that their actions can produce anger?  You don't want them to blithely go through life thinking that they get to do whatever they want and no one will ever be effected  by their positively maddening behavior.

But then again when was the last time I smeared ketchup on the table?  It's been awhile.  So some of these absolutely maddening behaviors they will stop doing in a short while.  What will I have done?  Yelled.  Made them feel bad for something that's not really their fault.  I mean, it is their fault, but I guess that's all part of the learning curve; learning that in this culture and household we do not smear ketchup on the table that has a slightly tricky finish on it.  Or any table for that matter.

Then there's the truth that I know from fighting with my husband, that once we start we stop listening to each other.  All you hear is the anger.  You can't hear the words, even though he may be right, there is so much anger that no one can back down.  All you convey is your anger.

So after that aforementioned frustrating moment my three year old daughter came up to me, tears running down red cheeks,
"You can't yell at your daughter, you don't yell at your daughter," head shaking.  I didn't feel like she was talking back to me, I felt the shattering effect of my off the cuff loss of anger.  I knelt and told her I was sorry, but I react like that when she is disobedient.

Maybe it's not her fault.  

A few days ago she came to the door during that all sacred 'rest time.'  There I was doing yoga, on the floor, knees towards the sky, head on the floor, in bridge position.  What did she need?  For me to tie her apron.  I yelled.  I didn't want to be disturbed, I wanted to be left alone for one single hour, so I could exercise.  Was that too much to ask?  She cried.  Now I've noticed that she keeps that apron tied and steps into it.

It's so much easier when I just tie that stinking apron for her.  I would like her to only come to the door when she has to go potty during her 'rest time,' but she doesn't.  Is it a worthy fight to pick?  No, not really.

Once upon a time in a land far away, when I only had one child, I used to think of creative ways to get her to  do what she needed to do.  I used to think of games or challenges.  I used to have calm words.  I would only save my big harsh scary words when she was doing something that put her in danger.  I have gotten sloppy.  I've taken to just yelling, 'STOP IT,' when she throws a temper tantrum.  She stops, but at what cost?  Two makes it hard.  Moving out of our apartment into transitional housing makes it hard.  Waiting and waiting and waiting to close on the house that we are buying makes it hard.  Living in a dorm with my kitchen in another building makes it hard.  Not knowing exactly where we will be living and when exactly we will be living there makes it hard.

None of that, not one single piece of that truth is her fault.

So today in church, I bent my head and prayed.  I don't want to make my child feel that she is a bad person or worthy of such harsh words because of my inability to react well.  I prayed that I could stop yelling for one week.  Just to see.  See if it makes a difference in her behavior.  See if it makes a difference in mine.

I was able to do it all day long.  I didn't raise my voice.  She threw a temper tantrum when it was time for her go into her room for 'rest time.'  She didn't want to go to sleep.  I never told her she had to, just play in her room by herself.  I let her lose it, and I calmly repeated myself over and over again.  I told her to listen to my words.  I told her she could just play.  She told me she wasn't tired.  The whole process took awhile, and she lost it, a lot.  I didn't though.  Maybe it's not about her behavior.  Maybe it's about me.  She is going to have temper tantrums, but why should I have them?

Then later when we were walking back and forth between our 'kitchen' and our 'apartment'  she lagged behind.  A habit that drives me crazy.  I have to wait, and stand, heavy baby on hip until she shows up at the door.  Truly an inconvenience.  For me and my tired arms.  So it's me dumping my expectations on her little head.  Instead I asked her if she could see if she could beat me to the door.  And she did, because she ran, and I walked.  We got there at the same time, I didn't have to wait and hold the door, my baby didn't grow heavy in my arm, giving me that stingy place on the inside of my elbow.

I went one day without yelling at my three year old daughter.  I did it.  How?  I don't know.  I'm sure that moment in the pew when I told God I was going to do this was when I got the help I needed.  I don't think I held it together without his help.
So thanks God, let's do six more days.

1 comment:

Lori E said...

Yes motherhood is a learning curve. where we all learn love more yell less enjoy our kids noisy loud sloppy habits but learn love unconditionally . someday we will have the perfect clean house but will miss their enthusiasm, excitement for life and little kids running around the house.