My name is Sarah Russell. I am a yell-aholic. I have been yell-free for eight days.
So here we are. Day Eight. Many, many events have taken place in the past month or so. Mainly summer vacation hit me like a ton of bricks. The first couple weeks were quite euphoric. I was craving the lax of no school, no obligations, no pressure… Until that’s just what I got. Sure, the relaxed nature of our days is easier in some ways but I am not sure the pros have outweighed the cons because something happens when you don’t have to answer to school, sports practices, preschool pick-up and bus schedules: You get lazy. And I am not just talking about lazy like Oh I’m just going to lay around— no, no. Lazy like, I’m going to take a little break from parenting. Lazy like, I’m going to ignore the bickering for just a little bit too long. Lazy like, I’m going to say sure to that (store bought) cookie because you can get it for yourself and I don’t have to get up from Pinteresting to cut you up a goddamn piece of fruit. You want to watch TV for an extra hour? Sure. You want to play video games past the 20 minute limit? Go for it. Your brother kicked you because you– oh nevermind. Get another cookie.
And as I am sure you can imagine, the cart plummeted off the cliff at the intersection of lazy parenting and children gone wild. Ugh. Something had to change. I was unhappy. I felt like shit. The summer was passing us by and I was like an indifferent, stinky high school student on summer vacation. And then it hit me. This isn’t my summer vacation. It’s theirs. What was my problem? I was so looking forward to slacking off and then I realized I was wasting their vacation by being self-absorbed and lame. Mama Fail.
So we went on a trip and spent a week at the ocean. It was amazing. On our last day, we had a very stressful travel itinerary and I knew that to keep us from living in a constant state of chaos while one humiliating meltdown blends into another, it was gong to take everything I had in me– which was not a whole hell of a lot considering the steady BAC I was able to maintain for six straight days (impressive, I know). The night before, I panicked and fell back on the No Yell Challenge. It was the only tool in my cloudy, liquor-saturated box. I needed the No Yell Challenge. And I needed to get Husband on board. We needed to work as a team- not as ring leaders of t this dysfunctional circus we had operated for the last couple months.
Despite the whining, crying and annoying complaining of the next 24 hours, I managed to remain in control. I did not lose my temper. And when I was close, Husband became quite adept at identifying the bulging vein in my forehead and stepped in as needed. We even high-fived each other. Twice. As I sat, crammed in between a sweet child and a fat, crabby Canadian (both snoring with drool hanging from their lips), I realized that I can do this. And I owe it to these amazing little humans I brought into this world to be better. Better at playing with them. Better at listening to them. Better at guiding them.
So here we are. Day Eight. I’m doing it. I have not yelled. I have taken deep breaths. I work so hard every day to be patient, kind and attentive. It’s tough, I won’t lie. But I feel so much better at the end of the day. Instead of the guilt-stricken recap, I wrack my mind thinking of little things I can do to make them smile the next day. And then I do them. I have left tasks unfinished to read to them. I have forgone errands to take them to the beach. I have put my phone down to play with them. Relishing the feelings which swell as they grab for my hand, turn to smile at me or as I catch them pretending. This is their summer vacation. My summer vacation is over. Or maybe it’s just now beginning.