A true test of the No Yell Challenge was placed in my path tonight.
There was the usual Phases of Tooth Brushing Revolt but the craziness of bedtime was accompanied this evening by screaming, kicking– and there was no lack of attitude. It peaked with a Mama sitting on a child’s back to pack his violently striking feet into jammies. Oh holy shit, did I want to yell. I also wanted to throw them out the window from the second floor bedroom. But neither would have been productive and one may have won me a bunch of free evenings in a quiet room with my own bed and a guard at my door (hmmm…).
The whole time, all I could tell myself was: Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. And the truth is, it hardly did the trick. How did we get like this? My oldest now taunts my No Yell Game. He pushes me to the point of breaking; testing every limit I provide. He even throws in his recently acquired skills of making my rules seem like trivial jokes. My middle child seems to be the only one marginally benefiting from this whole thing: I am so busy dealing with his brothers, he can do whatever he wants. And then there’s the little guy- who I have grave concerns that he’s either in need of an exorcism or having a psychiatric break. The tantrums and fits and irrational episodes, oh my. (He is also now creating Lego men with sniper rifles jabbing into their skulls- should I be concerned about this?)
I used to be the Mama who closely monitored television- no one watched before age two (okay, that’s a lie but only when I really needed a shower). And everything was age-appropriate and nurturing. I used to be the Mama who was calm and rational and took time to explain what we did wrong and why we shouldn’t do that again. What rot. Because then we had Number Three and everything changed. Some for the worse, a lot for the better. But this Mama became so overwhelmed that she kind of forgot how to parent. Sounds dumb right? Somewhere in the transition to a family of five, we went wrong. I yell first, ask after. Where was the wrong turn that led us to Fuctupville? And which way is Home?
I’m really trying here and I am having some success. But. It’s really hard. It just doesn’t seem like I am making a dent in all of this. I feel like the Lego guy with the gun in my skull. Is this really going to work? Why are they fighting me so badly on this? Do they like the yelling?
The night ended with cuddles, Pumpkin Soup, kisses, warm hands on my face. And a glass of wine as big as my head. And I think, maybe I can keep going. I’m not giving up. Just struggling. Like Day Eight of quitting smoking, it’s not going to get a lot worse than this and if it does, I am going to be that much stronger to fight it. I didn’t yell. And that’s about the only way I can measure my success today.
Breathe. Keep on keepin’ on, Mamas.