Sunday, November 28, 2010

Operation No-Yell: "And on the seventh day, Mummy...."


You were expecting something different, perhaps?


In my defense, Mr. Super-Sassy-Pants and Mr. I'm-Not-Listening-Nah-Nah-Boo-Boo had it coming.

It's 6:30 pm, a full half hour before their bedtime and they are in bed, lights off. Matthew didn't get a story and even though neither boy has brushed his teeth, I am not going back up there.

Weirdly, I don't feel TOO badly about the yelling. What a change from the beginning of this week!

During the past seven days, I have reached a number of interesting conclusions about parenting,  the nature of discipline and myself:

 MOST of time, if I'm yelling, it has nothing to do with the children and everything to do with me. I am learning to recognize that and correct it before the vocal fireworks begin and all around, things are much better.

My children respond much better to praise and quiet voices than to hollering and anger. Huh. Go figure, eh?

Everyone has a opinion about Operation No-Yell. Some roll their eyes, some nod sagely, others want to know every detail of the past week, eager to either learn from my experience or to tear it all to bits. I am both thin AND thick-skinned about this: I know that I am good mother - my changing how I parent (or attempting to) is not an admission of defeat - it is an effort to be better. To be MORE.

To be better more often.

Not surprisingly then, I bristled at the assumption that I am trying to Super Mom, or that I am most concerned with being friends with my children instead of their guardian and protector and teacher. After chewing, bristling and spluttering indignantly, I realized an important truth:

I am not attempting to be anything more than the kind of mother  that I am absolutely meant to be and more importantly, the kind of mother that my children deserve.

I feel empowered and invigorated by this realization. I don't think that there is any shame in admitting that I need help or guidance. A friend of mine is horrified that I blog about my failings (perceived or otherwise) and can't understand why I feel compelled to reach out to the world at large - leaving myself open to criticism and judgement.

What I know for sure is this:
I reach out because that is who I am. I overshare, too. I feel too deeply, talk too much and seldom stop to think before I speak, emote or act. I reach out because I trust that those who know me best will understand and support me. I trust that those who don't know me will be drawn to my honesty and imperfections. I hope that they will recognize something of themselves in me and feel comfort. Kinship.

I write about who I am - as a wife and as a mother I am a work in progress.

I write about who I want to be: more often than not, a better wife and mother.

These parenting waters are tricky to navigate and as the boys grow into themselves, they take me into uncharted territory. Seems to me that by reaching out and admitting that I am lost, I stand a better chance of being found. Or of someone handing me a map.

Thanks to all of you for being part of the journey!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tools of the Trade

I need new tools for parenting the Reds. My arsenal is empty and obviously, hollering at the Reds all the time is not doing them - or the world - any favours.

Time-outs work most of the time, but today I forgot to call Matthew out of one until his pitiful request floated down the stairwell: "Mummy? Can I be done in Time-Out now? I have to poo!"

I need coping strategies for the Witching Hour, the first hour of every day when I'm trying to herd sleepy leprechauns into frozen boots and a cold car. I need patience tips for potty-training and fussy eating, too.

I need help reigning in my own ferocious temper and my need to control everyone, all the time.

I need advice about how to entertain them without wanting to stab out my own eyes and please, PLEASE can someone help me with the tattle-taling? I am going to hurl myself out the stinkin' window if ONE MORE little boy begins a sentence this way:

"Mummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmyyy....he hit/stepped on/took my/ate the/looked at me/called me/said/swore at me/broke my/breathed...."

Bring your best stuff, people.


And thank you.

Operation No-Yell: DAY FOUR

I may have used my very stern voice LOUDLY today.

But only once and was brought up sharply by Matthew:

"Mummy! You promised not to yell. That sounds a LOT like a yell!"

There may have a wagging five-year-old finger to go along with that reprimand.


Thank you, son. For every minute - every moment - that you help me be a better Mummy.

But it's HARD. And it shouldn't be this hard.

Should it?

Operation No-Yell: DAY THREE

I yelled.


Morning: Getting two dawdlers dressed and out the door before 7 am is no easy feat. Better planning on my part would help alleviate stress in this regard. So would simply shooting them out of a canon and hoping they land near their respective destinations...

Evening: You know when your kids get spazzy and hyper out of nowhere? The jump-on-furniture-slide-down-banister kind of spazzy?

Yeah. Those were my kids last night. Admittedly, they were tired and keyed up with having friends over after dinner, but AGGGGHHHHHHHH....


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Operation No-Yell: DAY TWO

The day has been surprisingly calm. I was worried, frankly, that today would be my undoing.

I am amazed to discover that by remaining calm, I feel more energized. And my children, bless them, are LESS likely to swing from the furniture or attempt to slide down the banister. Not to say that they DIDN'T attempt these things, because they most certainly did. But they did so only once and after being reprimanded quietly by their mother and then gently redirected, they forgot to misbehave.

I am flabbergasted.

I did not yell when Luke emptied the entire contents of the bubble bath bottle into his solo bath.

I did not yell when he then emptied half the contents of his VERY bubbly bath onto the bathroom floor.

I did not yell when my squeaky-clean, pj-clad Luke then turned the ENTIRE package of spaghetti onto the - naturally, freshly-swept and mopped - kitchen floor.

Instead, I got on with the cleaning up (and did not yell at Luke's efforts to "help" me) and he got on with being cute and my home is - for the second day in a row - a messy but peaceful place to be.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Operation No-Yell: Day ONE


Have just tucked two tired boys into bed and not a moment too soon. I could feel my patience - such as it is - slipping away during supper, when Luke had to be put into Time-Out FOUR times for calling his brother "Stupid!" and hitting.

The tired is etched on his face, though, so I did manage to cut him some slack and not yell once.

That is, I didn't yell once ALL DAY LONG!

Not this morning whilst hustling their dawdling bodies out the door. Not even when Matthew forgot his lunch bag and I had to come home again.

I kept my cool and WOW, what a better, easier, so-much-nicer way to begin the day!

I wanted to holler at them and clobber their heads together at the grocery store tonight, but instead I hissed at them as loudly as I could without yell-hissing and handed them crackers to shove into their mouths. It worked.

But now? Now I am exhausted. As much from the Monday Blahs as from the effort it took to keep calm.

Night 'all...sweet dreams and wish me luck for tomorrow!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Parenting Challenge # 1

I yell.

I yell when I'm happy, I yell when I'm not. Mostly, I yell when I'm tired or frustrated or angry. I really let loose during the Witching Hour before dinner when the Reds are often also tired and frustrated or hungry.

Having started a part-time job recently, my stress level has increased. Naturally - sadly - the decibel level here at House of Bellymonster has reached epic proportions.

I yell so often and so loudly that I fear I might be permanently damaging the Reds' hearing as well as their self-esteem.

And that completely sucks.


I have challenged myself to go one week without yelling. No raising my voice. No nasty, sing-song mimicking. No hollering when things aren't done the moment I asked (ok, demanded).

Nope. I will use my inside voice. My quiet voice (I know that some of you are snickering that Belly doesn't HAVE a quiet voice but this week, I will prove that I do.)

I have spoken (in soft, gentle tones) to the Reds about this plan and while their freckled little faces showed deep skepticism, I felt like they were a bit hopeful.

I'll update here every day for the next seven days.

Wish me well.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fall-out and failings....

Last month, I lost Matthew at the mall.

This month, I am dealing with the fall-out of losing Matthew at the mall and it's not pretty.

My bright, observant, eager-to-please and sensitive Firstborn has developed a real and HIGHLY unnerving habit of "protecting" his younger brother.

Sweet, right?

Not so much.

Matthew is so concerned that Luke will get lost, run away or otherwise disappear, that he now runs after Luke, hollering and crying. As soon as he reaches Luke, he either yanks him backward by the hood or blocks him from all movement by a) wrapping his arms around him and/or b) tackling him and wrestling him to the ground.

Luke, to his credit, tolerated this new behaviour rather well.

At first.

But now, Matthew's overwrought hysteria only spurs Luke on and he too, will start screeching and either a) running faster and/or b) lashing out at Matthew as soon as he gets close. This week, he's been biting his brother as they sail to the ground in a mess of limbs and tears. Last week, it was kicking. Today, he raked his nails down Matthew's face all while screeching, "Don't STOP me!" at the top of his lungs, drowned out only by Matthew screeching that he was "too far from Mummy! STOP RUNNING AWAY!"

It's no longer sweet or cute or even remotely funny. Mostly, it's disturbing and sad and  I worry about both boys: Matthew because he is clearly traumatized and Luke because his freedom is being curtailed by his idol and their frustration levels (and mine) are rising rapidly.

I have tried reasoning with Matthew, assuring him that nothing bad will happen. I have been stern, reminding him that I am the parent, not him and protecting his brother is NOT his job, it's mine. I think that Matthew simply doesn't TRUST me to protect his brother - after all, I lost him, didn't I? -  and so therefore has taken on this task himself.

A teacher at the school who witnessed a Matthew-in-Protector mode take down yesterday, suggested that I find him a therapist. I nodded in miserable agreement because really, was else is there to do?

 I know that it could have happened to anyone and that it was NOT my fault, that he was lost. I know that shit happens.

But I feel like an absolute failure that I have been unable to appease him since - that my reassurances are not enough to pull him from this trauma and let his brother go.

And it's an awful, awful feeling.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A, B, C...

I did not read Matthew a story before bed. Tonight, he read to me.

All by himself!

I am one proud and happy Mama!

That is all!