The Day We Stopped Yelling.

I used to talk a lot about my oldest child’s behavior problems, but if you are a long time reader, you have probably noticed that has tapered off some. I still have stories I could share DAILY, but instead of focusing on what my kid is doing that seems sociopathic, I am really trying to focus on the things he’s doing well. Positive parenting and all that. Plus, by the end of the day, I’m just glad it’s over. No need to rehash.  I made it, we’re safe. The end. Well done.

Maverick is an amazing kid, but he has issues with anger and is very (VERY) oppositional by nature. He is a brilliant, demanding, complicated child and he gets every single difficult characteristic from his father … obviously.

Some issues have calmed with age and maturity, but other things seem to be running deeper and becoming more serious. After a few recent events, I realized that we need to make some changes to our parenting style. Things that used to work for us are no longer working, and over time Robbie and I have become … cringe … yellers.

Just admitting that makes me uncomfortable. We were not yellers in the beginning, neither of us came from yelling households, and now we are yellers. There are a million excuses and reasons I could give for why that is, but it doesn’t matter because we are the parents and we set the tone. I don’t want to live in a yelling household, and yet we do. That’s not the tone I want to set.

In the worst moments of my day, generally between 4-6:30 p.m., I have an out-of-body experience where I hear myself screaming at my children like a maniac because no one’s listening and everyone’s throwing food on the floor and acting like hoodlums from SOMEONE ELSE’S HOUSE, CERTAINLY NOT MINE, BECAUSE WHAT KIND OF MOTHER HAS CHILDREN WHO ACT THIS WAY?! The mom I saw, I didn’t like. I didn’t even recognize her. I thought she was better than that. She used to be, when she had one kid. But then she had two and then three and she felt ill-equipped to handle her oldest, complicated child because her life was overwhelming. Sometimes when you’re overwhelmed it’s hard to gain clarity to see how things really are.

Robbie started yelling more when he was home. And then we saw our kids start to model that behavior. Yesterday I had flash-forward of Maverick at 14, towering over me and screaming “You’re an idiot!” refusing to comply with anything I asked of him, and that was it. I was done. No more yelling, and Robbie agreed.

That was last night. This morning, Asher woke up first. He had pooped his pants. I changed him and put the dirty diaper in a shopping bag, tossing it out on the carport to put in the big garbage can later. Robbie woke up with the stomach bug that is traveling from member to member of our household. He dragged himself around, getting ready for work; he was going anyway, even though he felt terrible. So for all the people who are buying a Kia today — stock up on charcoal tablets. You’re going to need them. Wash your hands if you shake hands with Robbie Hobbs.

We reminded each other over breakfast that we were no longer going to yell at the kids. This was going to be The Day We Stopped Yelling.

And then.

Maverick wouldn’t stop picking on Asher. Asher wouldn’t stop screaming like he was being skinned alive. The baby wouldn’t let me put her down. Robbie kept having to run to the bathroom. The chaos escalated. The tension level rose. We took deep breaths. Asher tried to drill the baby with his toy drill. He hit her with a metal toy. We breathed more deeply. We told Maverick he had to run laps in the yard. He crossed his arms and said “I will NOT.”

I took a deep, deep breath, holding the baby while Asher clung to my leg. I would not yell. I would be calm. I can’t do this, I thought. 

And that is when I saw it.

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The next door neighbors are doing construction on their house which has prevented Asher from napping for two full weeks. I haven’t mentioned it here, but their damn dog keeps getting out. He’s a friendly dog, and harmless I guess, but he’s huge and hyper and scares the kids because he jumps on them. Last time he got out, I marched next door and asked the construction worker to make sure they don’t let him out because I have little kids and we like to be outside.

Well, this morning I looked out my kitchen window to see that very same dog eating Asher’s poop diaper and strewing it all over our front yard.

And I yelled.

But not at my kids. So does it count? I don’t know.

Here’s what I do know: since this morning, Maverick has acted like a lunatic several times. Normally I would have yelled at him, but because today is The Day We Stopped Yelling, I stopped what I was doing, got down on my knees and looked in his eyes. I took his hands in my hands and quietly asked him to stop doing whatever it was that he was doing, and it worked. Now, do I have time to stop what I’m doing to calmly ask something of my children? No. I also don’t really have time to pee or feed anyone, but it has to be done anyway.

Not yelling is exhausting. But the alternative is unacceptable. Do you yell? Did your parents yell? HELP ME! (I yelled that at you.)

I Need A Storage Room.

I don’t want to scare my childless friends or irritate the people who have forgotten the harsh reality of raising small children, so I won’t go into the details of what has been happening over here for the past few weeks. 

I can tell you that Maverick has been out of school for a total of 9 out of the past 15 school days and Asher did not attend Mother’s Day Out for the past 2 weeks in a row. I can tell you that having all three of my children stuck at home with me when it’s extremely cold and/or wet outside makes me crazy and that causes me to question what kind of mother I am.

I can tell you that Asher damn near got crushed under an enormous dresser that he tried to climb on Wednesday, and it upset me so badly that I cried for two hours. Which I think might be a record. 

I could go on and on telling you tidbits like these, which would build a case for why I need a storage room to house a stockpile of k-cups, wine, and toilet paper. I tire of going to the store multiple times a week for those items. And I guess I’d need to hoard diapers in there too, although I don’t love the idea of sharing my storage area with the children.

But all is not lost because school starts back tomorrow. 

And I have this.

I love.

Clarity.

Occasionally, not often enough, I snap out of The Blur and realize how incredibly blessed I am.

I really have everything I have ever wanted in life. None of it is perfect or how I imagined it would be, but it’s all there. Every single thing, in its odd imperfection. I never asked for an easy life; I wanted a happy one. And that’s what I got: an exhausting, imperfectly happy life.

I read something last night that said if we would just look at our children through a different lens — to think of them as a gift to us — our parenting experience would be totally different. And OF COURSE I believe my children are wonderful, gift-like little blessings, but it’s easy to forget that in the chaos of ear-piercing shrieks and thrown toys. You see, I am very easily blinded by messes and tantrums.

Something I have to be intentional about is waking up and being conciously grateful for my gifts. This all sounds very Pollyanna, I know. I’m sure if you stopped by my house between the hours of 4-7 p.m. I would not seem like someone who is basking in the glow of motherhood. But I openly share the weird and not-great things that happen here, so it’s only right that I share the good things with you too. 

Today I have the clarity to see my life for what it is: very simple, and full of life and happiness. I don’t know what I did to deserve what I have, but maybe instead of asking for more XYZ, I need to be asking for the lucidity to appreciate what’s right in front of me.


 

A Solid B.

You know what sucks when you’re sick?

Children.

I used to never get sick. Just like I used to never lose my cell phone or find random slobbery food items on my shoulder. These things seem to have come with motherhood. And while I don’t necessarily think of myself as a competitive person, I really would like to know if I’m coping well or not. 

I miss that part of working in an office — having the luxury of looking around to see how you’re doing compared to your peers. Or getting an annual review. Your boss could lay it all out for you. Here, it’s all guesswork. I don’t enjoy guesswork. I would LOVE to know — like really know — how other mothers cope in the house alone with a cold, a cranky baby who also has a cold, and an almost-four-year-old who won’t stop touching you, talking to you, and asking you to repeat what you just said because your head is clogged and you’re losing your voice and apparently he can’t understand what you’re saying.

I don’t know about my peers, but it makes me feel CRAZY. I send insane-sounding texts to the people who love me enough to overlook my insane-sounding texts. Like Husband. He comes home at night and pretends like he never read the texts that say things like “I’VE HAD IT” or, “I QUIT” or, “I am about to overmedicate myself on cold medicine and take them to the mall because I don’t know how else I am going to make it through this f*#king day.”

When he gets home, he kisses me hello and asks about my day as though he never received the multiple snippets of crazy throughout the day. 

That’s really nice of him.

Speaking of crazy … here’s what I didn’t blog about yesterday. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I couldn’t use the computer. My day started with this:


Our laptop, may it rest in peace, with the striped screen of death. We can’t afford a new one … I’m currently using my sweet mother-in-law’s laptop that she’s lending to us for a few days. I was hoping to attend a baby shower in Nashville in two weeks, but it looks like we’ll be spending that money that we never really had and still don’t have, on a new computer instead. I told Husband we have to wait until after September 4 because that’s when TWO turns one and we can stop spending $40 a week on formula.

In an effort to speed up the day, I made a brownie concoction that no one ate, and I can’t blame them because it was pretty disgusting … which brings me to the next topic.


I have a stained-glass window propped up behind the stove. I’ve had it for a long time, my parents gave it to me and I really love it. I know the kitchen is a weird location, but I honestly have no idea where else to put it:


After lunch, I was bumbling around in a fog when this conversation popped up:

ONE: Mommy, is that a penis?

Me: What?

ONE: A penis.

Me: Where?

ONE: Up there. Above the oven.

Me: No! 

ONE: It sure looks like a penis.

Me: That’s a flower. Or some kind of design. NOT a penis … we wouldn’t put a picture of a private part in the kitchen, ONE. Private parts are private.

ONE: Well … it sure looks like a penis.

Later, my parents stopped by to pick up ONE for an overnight stay which was so nice. My mother left me with this:


An infrared heat lamp. It’s supposed to kill bacteria. It’s not every day you encounter one of these, and it was an oddly appropriate conclusion to my day.

Now back to my original question: how well am I coping in comparison to my peers? Our laptop is broken, I’ve just been informed that our cell phones have been cut off, the blinds fell down in TWO’s room – again – so I threw them in the trash can, and I am feeling generally miserable. But my children are clothed, their noses are wiped, I have on a supportive bra, and we have food in the house.

I give myself a solid B.