Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Day I Pledged to Stop Yelling At My Children

Mr Sunshine asked for a second bowl of cereal and I was happy to oblige. I poured his beloved Fruit Loops with organic milk and headed back to the table. Somehow, I lost my grip on the bowl and watched it, in slow motion, turn upside down and land all over the just swept floor. Loops scattered under the fridge and stove and milk splashed up the side of the cupboard. I was immediately frustrated with myself and dropped to my knees to figure out where to begin. My two year old witnessed the event from a few feet away and saw my sour face reaction. He threw his arms out, stretched as wide as they could be, and threw a hug in my direction. His tiny hands gently patted my back and he nuzzled his face into my neck. He stayed there as long as he felt I needed him. We just sat there on the floor in the milky puddle holding one another for a full three minutes.

And during those minutes I wanted to cry.

I wanted to cry because of the empathy given to me by my pint sized child. I wanted to cry because I was intensely overcome with the guilt of having always scolded my children when they've been in my exact shoes. I wanted to cry for the many opportunities I've missed of moments like this when I should have given the same empathy instead of a stern lecture about being careful.

I just wanted to cry.

But I didn't. At least not on the outside. Even though my heart was hurting, I smiled, hugged my little love, and thanked him for such a compassionate gesture.

And then I cleaned. I cleaned slowly, almost as a punishment to myself. I flashbacked to a few recent incidences of my children spilling apple juice on the living room carpet and emptying a box of Rice Krispies inside the impossible-to-clean-every-square-inch pantry. I was embarrassed of my responses to their "uh-ohs." I recalled scolding them, raising my voice yelling, and having a temper tantrum.

I thought to myself, how would I feel if my husband treated my clumsiness the way I treated the kids' accidents?

And then I did cry. I cried because I haven't behaved very well in these situations. I cried because I want to be a better mom who sets better examples. I cried because of the immense pressure social media has put on moms to be June Cleaver every minute of every day.

Yet it took my child, the little Cindy Lou Who helped Mom's heart grow six hundred sizes that day, to show me it was okay; the world wasn't going to end over a spilled bowl of milk.

* Note: There are some really great parenting sites out there though for dealing with becoming a calmer parent with less yelling, as well as dealing with the dreaded mom guilt we sometimes face. My three favorites are Finding Joy, The Orange Rhino, and Hands Free Mama. All three of these are wonderful resources. 

I have accepted the challenge of Yelling Less and Loving More put forth by The Orange Rhino. I plan to write about the experience in future posts, in hopes of meeting my own No Yelling goals.


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