Friday, January 9, 2015

The Truth About Yelling

At least once a week it happens. I am on Facebook minding everyone else's business, looking at a picture of the salad that bitch from high school had for lunch when it pops up. A very helpful not at all sanctimonious link to an article about Positive Parenting. Positive Parenting means not yelling at your kids or saying anything negative to them. Ever. Not at five o'clock when your kids resemble gremlins with full bellies after midnight. Not at nine thirty P.M. when you are trying to catch up on last week's DVRed episode of The Real Housewives of Somewhere More Exciting Than Here and your son needs one more something or other. Not even when your teenage daughter spills your nail polish all over the bathroom counter after she has been told 7,858 time to stay out of your flippin things and after you bought her her own nail polish in every color of the rainbow. No, you are supposed to take a deep breath, count to ten, channel your inner Stepford, and say something like, "Now Sweet Cheeks, we need to try and make better choices, okay?" That is what I say. When I am under the influence of alcohol. Or muscle relaxants.
After seeing one such article I decided to consult Doctor Google, PhD on the matter because these articles never fail to make me feel like like a shitty mom. Sure, I am not dropping f bombs on my kids and I shower them with love, but after the third spilled cup of milk that morning or when called a stupid poopy head I have maybe raised my voice several octaves. I figured Google would make me feel better because it never does. Surely I would find funny yet wise parenting confessions from great moms who sometimes every day yell at their kids. Surely Psychology Today would comfort me with a study proving that children who are yelled at do not grow up to be Norman Bates. As a result of my Google search I found an insightful article by the Huffington Post (always a reliable source, by the way) listing ten ways to stop yelling at your kids. Oddly, none of the ten things cited were, "drink more". Judgey McJudgerton from Nowhere, Ohio wrote a lovely blog post about how she gave up yelling at her kids for good and now the whole family spends evenings hugging each other and chanting positive affirmations. Ah, Google. You never make me feel better and yet I keep coming back to you.
I guess it is up to me, now. Please sit down and read carefully while you pretend to have your full attention on your daughter's fourth rendition of the story about the cute boy in her class. I need to tell you a secret about yelling that the other parents don't want you to know. Are your ready? If the feds read this I may disappear. Here is the truth about yelling:
Everybody Does It.
I am going to say that again. Everybody. Yells. That mom in playgroup who bakes kale carrot muffins and says things like, "Sweetie, please put on your listening ears and stop throwing sand at your brother"? She yells. The lady who teaches baby yoga at the park district and always smells like essential oils? Or pot. You can bet your Merlot that when dinnertime rolls around and she has cooked four different meals only to be given a look of disgust and told, "I don't want that,” her inner zen goes the ways of Kim Kardashian's judgement. That woman coming out of Whole Foods with her matching diaper bag and car seat cover? There are days and nights when she can give the Dance Moms a run for their money. While wearing sweat pants. How about your son's preschool teacher who seems  to have the mood of a chronic opiate user? Come on, you think she can keep up that enthusiasm and patience with her own kids after dealing with yours four two and a half hours? Nope.
Before you get all, "enjoy every moment, maybe you should take antidepressants" on me, let me clarify: I am not saying that yelling at your kids is good. I am saying that we are all human and patience is a limited resource, and if it is not constant and the interim is filled with hugs and encouragement and art projects and snuggles your kids probably won't end up on the Dr. Phil Show. He only picks the serious loonies. Sure, you shouldn't have told your son to get back in his damn bed at ten o'clock last night, and you probably did over react to that spill and it would have been better to ignore it when your teenager gave you that look AGAIN instead of flipping your shit. These are not graceful, attractive, Facebook worthy moments. They are human moments. They are not moments that define you as a mom, or as a person. They don't make you a bad mom. You are a good mom, albeit a human one. Listen, kids are beautiful wonderful blessings and we are so lucky to have them, but they know how to annoy the living shit out of us. I think they might take a class on it in the womb. Sometimes you are going to lose your cool, overreact, and not have one shred of patience left by bedtime. That's okay, me too. Any mom that tells your she never ever yells is either a pathological liar or heavily medicated. So what should you do when you go all Abby Lee Miller on your kid for a minor infraction? When everyone calms down give them a hug, explain that even moms have bad days, pour yourself a glass of whine and move on. Make sure little Caillou understands that he didn’t make a good choice, though, okay?
At the end of the day, your son won't remember that you yelled at him. He will remember that you checked under his bed for monsters and snuggled with him. Your daughter won't remember that you yelled. She will remember that you commiserated with her about the mean girls on the playground. Your children won't remember the yelling; they will remember the nights you stayed up with them when they were sick, the hours you spent researching the right school, the crafts you did, the adventures you planned, the time you bought that lego set instead of that pair of boots you needed, and the fact that you were there. I hope that in the midst of blaming ourselves, lying awake at night thinking about how we could have said it, done it or reacted to it differently, and constantly trying to do better, that we can remember those things, too.

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