Let me let you in on a not-so-secret-secret::
Hello, My name is Lindsay, and I am a yeller.
I don’t yell everyday. I don’t yell over everything. I *do* go from zero-to-ten pretty quickly. There isn’t much in between.
And my ten? My ten is loud. My ten is a doors slamming, hitting walls, screaming into a pillow, foot stomping tantrum that puts my almost 4 year old’s to shame.
Why do I do this? Well. I *know* why. Thank you counseling, self-help books and blogs, lots of inner soul-searching, and long conversations with close friends. I’m not going to get into the “why.” However, I will say, that a couple of years ago when I decided to parent my children peacefully, end punitive punishments, go with my instincts, attachment parent…whatever you want to coin it…my “Holy shit, Lindsay is going to snap” moments came much more frequently.
This, as you can imagine, was extremely frustrating for me. I was so frustrated with being so frustrated. My patience was nonexistent. I would go two whole days with biting my tongue, working through every. single. emotion. that both of my girls have. And my girls have *big* emotions.
There, I would sit with a screaming child in my lap for 20 minutes, repeating…
“You’re upset because you want to color on the walls, but Mommy can’t let you. You’re upset, and I understand. It’s OK to be upset. I am here even when you are upset.”
That was my day. Dreading the next big emotion. Barely hanging on. Closing my eyes and holding back the tears and wishing that I could just go back to my pre-child life where the only big emotions I had to manage were my own.
I wasn’t yelling. But I wasn’t happy.
These children are supposed to bring me so much happiness. So much joy. And there I was, day after day, doing the same freaking thing. I was unhappy. Depressed. Lonely.
I was bored.
I would count down the seconds to 6 o’ clock when I could expect Ryan to walk through the door. A text would come at 5:59 saying he was stuck in traffic and wouldn’t be home until 6:15. I would text him back horrible things. Like it was his fault. Like he chose to sit in traffic to make my life harder. Like he was purposely trying to make me unhappy. The instant he would walk through the door, I would pour myself a (hefty) glass of wine and go hide until bedtime.
Cue resentment, bitterness, exhaustion…a perfect recipe for a Level Ten Explosion.
A couple of days of “being good” and not yelling would come and go. Then, the smallest, tiniest, most trivial thing would happen. One of my kids wouldn’t nap. Or they found a marker and colored on themselves. Or the cats knocked over a plant.
I could feel it coming, but there was no stopping it. All of the pent up frustration…enough for days…would spew out of me. You would think this release would feel good. I’d feel empty and ready to take on more. No. I’d feel even worse than before.
My children would be scared and unhappy. Trust was broken. The dog would hide. My husband would shut down. I was supposed to be a peaceful parent. This was supposed to work. I am a horrible mother. A horrible wife. And worse yet, a hypocrite. Screw this peaceful parenting bullshit. It doesn’t work. Look at me. I am worse off than before.
Then, I had my day.
I woke up a couple of weeks ago in a horrid mood. I grabbed Lula her apple, turned on Thomas and poured myself a cup of coffee. I sat on my couch and opened up Instagram and the first Insta I saw was a quote:
“Happiness comes from within.”
Well, duh. I know this. We all know this. We’ve heard it a thousand times. But for some odd reason I sat there. Immobilized. Everything hit me in waves. Big, huge, waves.
My children do not determine my happiness. My husband does not determine my happiness. Things that do or do not happen in my life do not determine my happiness. That is giving up all of my power. Happiness is a choice. Being at peace? Being at peace is a choice.
I’ve always had high expectations in my life. I have them with myself, but in turn those high expectations go on other people in my life. I hold them to the same standards I hold myself. And anything less than…well, that impedes on my happiness. Being happy doesn’t need to be that hard. And I was making it damn near impossible.
My problem wasn’t striving to be a peaceful parent. My problem was with my expectations. My problem was letting others determine my happiness. My problem was letting go of control of little things. Thing is, if you let go of control over the little things, you’ll find you have full control over your own happiness…which is all that really matters.
Later that day, I downloaded some guided meditation for myself and the girls. While they napped, I listened to one that had me visualize my inner peace and happiness as a candle. When you feel the turbulent winds of life threatening to blow out your candle, you stop. You become still. You do all you can to protect that candle and nothing outside of you can blow it out. Only your inner turbulence. This gave me a much WIDER range than my Zero To Ten. Now I have two, three, four…
THEN. Then I just *happened* to stumble upon a comment someone left on a thread about peaceful parenting and it was a link to The Orange Rhino Challenge. I clicked, and there was just the challenge I needed to pair with my new found revelations. 365 days of no yelling. None. The yelling option is basically just completely taken off the table.
I am not typically a person who believes in miracles. Or fate. I truly believe that we have full control over our realities and our lives. Which is what makes it somewhat (darkly) funny that I have played the victim for so long. It wasn’t some miracle that the series of events of that day unfolded the way they did. That information has always been out there. The new knowledge I attained had actually been known by me for some time. I just needed to choose to know it.
So. I made a vow. My happiness is up to me. I would take my happiness into my own hands. I would continue to practice yoga, as that grounds me and keeps me in tune with my body. I would continue to meditate, as that calms me and teaches me the self-discipline of being able to self-soothe. I would completely stop yelling, as yelling single-handedly destroyed not only my self-esteem, but the self-esteem of those around me.
But most important, I would continue to forgive freely. Myself, mostly. Will I hit a Level Ten again? I don’t doubt it. The difference then will be that I will know how to quickly get myself back down from the moon. I will be able to ask for forgiveness, and forgive myself. And I will remember that my candle cannot be blown out by anyone other than myself.
We have been happy this week. My kids are happy with a happy mom. I can work through big emotions with them and do it with a happy heart, and not a resentful heart. We are in the process of building trust again. I let go of my crazy expectations and the freedom that gives each of us in our daily life has made everything so much more peaceful. I knew I was finally on the right path when yesterday, Lula came up for a cuddle and said,
“Mommy. I have so much fun with you. You love me and Ollie-O so much.”
I do, Baby Girl. I do.
I am looking forward to updating this aspect of my life as this Yell-Free Year continues. I am excited for the changes in not only myself, but in my entire family.
This hippy-dippy shit is legit…join me?