(in lieu of this new goal...a picture of our new year's celebrations)

I recently read an blog post entitled, "The important thing about yelling." Generally, I dislike posts like these mostly because they make me feel really uneasy with the way I do things as a mom. They make my heart twitch a little. So in all honesty, I usually just avoid reading them.

However, a dear friend of mine recently read the article and suggested I read it too. I decided to be a good friend and read it, even though I pranced around the idea for a solid day and a half. I'm glad I read it and not for any one reason but just because it got me thinking about little things I could do to change my behavior patterns around the house.

More often than not, I'm the mom that "tsk, tsks" my girls for spilling juice, milk, water, dry rice, an entire box of mac & cheese on the floor. In fact, the "tsk, tsks" usually escalate to an eye roll, a head shake and sometimes, a yell. Okay, spilling things usually provokes a yell. I shouldn't lie, but I really messes on the floor. Mya and Genevieve instantly shy away from me when an accident occurs because they know I'm going to yell, and I feel bad about that because c'mon it is just juice, milk, water, etc. Nothing a towel or a broom can't fix. The article reminded me of that.

So for the past two days, I can't even tell you how many times I've whispered to myself, "It's only milk. It's only juice. It's only goldfish." Today, Elle dropped a new bag of Goldfish all over the kitchen floor timing it perfectly with V's accidental drop of her juice cup. In the moment it happened, all I saw was a soppy, cheesy and frustrating sight. In the two minutes after, I saw a completely different scene: one that comprised of a sweet toddler walking her always-hungry dog over to the mess and exclaiming, "Blue, I found your lunch. I found your lunch!" Blue was delighted. He cleaned 50% of the mess in about 30 seconds. I handed V the broom and had her clean the rest of the crumbs.

I didn't yell. I wanted to yell. I wanted to snatch that now-ripped bag of Goldfish out of Elle's hands, and I wanted to pour the remaining juice all over V's head because somewhere in my childish brain I thought, This will show them. This will even the score. I didn't, but you have to know it was my inner-most desire.

Yelling is one of my biggest weaknesses. I've always been a yeller. I've also always been a reacter, even though I've really worked on "acting instead of reacting" for years. I have few memories of my childhood, but I'm sure I yelled at my siblings. I know that as a teenager I always had some choice words to spew at my parents. I had fights with roommates and mission companions that usually involved a bit of yelling. And all that yelling has just carried over into my married/family life.

To be clear, I don't really yell at Tim a lot. I know I did in the first couple years of marriage because I claimed, "He just didn't understand what it was like to...[insert whatever comment you'd like: carry a child, complete all the house chores, work full-time while maintaining a home, feel insecure about body issues." You know, the usual things. But then one day during a rather long, hard conversation with him, I realized he actually did understand all these things, and slowly I started yelling at him less. And it's a good thing to because I always need at least one ally. I still yell at him from time to time, but I think he knows me well enough now to know that sometimes I just have to let all the bottled-up junk out, and generally I let it out loud.

As I've thought about my growth in my relationship with Tim and how much I've been able to calm down with him, I thought, I should be able to grow in my relationship with my girls. I don't always need to yell. I don't want my kids to continuously tell people, "My mama's freaking out." Because they do that, you know, and it's embarrassing. I feel ashamed to my very core when I hear them say it.

I know I can't change over night. We're talking thirty years of yelling/reacting, but I think I can make small changes that I know will make a difference, such as always having a broom/rag handy, taking a deep breath before talking, and bending down to be eye level at them. That last idea has actually helped me a lot this week. It's so much easier to yell at a child when you're hovering over them and they're cowering down and down and down. It's more difficult to yell at their face when you're crouched down next to them nearly touching noses. In the past two days, I found hugging to be key with V. She always says, "It's okay mama. It's okay. I'll fix it." That one is wise beyond her years, and I love her for it.

I have made this my second goal for 2014. I had only intended to work on one goal--one very special goal, but I have decided that this is so very important and deserves to be added to the list.

Mya is really fighting to find her independence these days. She's been difficult. Tim and I are always talking about ways to help her feel loved, even though she is the hardest person to love sometimes. She screams at me a lot. She screams at her sisters too. I hope she doesn't yell at school. She gives me mean faces a lot too. I am acutely aware she learned it from me. It makes me ache inside. I know the only way for her to change is if she sees better examples at home. So I guess this new goal is really for her. I need to mend the damage I've done.

I believe I can do it. Let the change begin.

1 comment :

  1. i am the same way about yelling. though, when we are around other people, i can be calm and collected. when i'm at home-watch out. i need to work on this too. especially about easily cleaned messes. why do i need to get mad if it takes me 10 seconds to clean it up (or rather, the kids 2 mins to clean it up)


"Be kind and considerate with your criticism... It's just as hard to write a bad book as it is to write a good book." Malcolm Cowley