Do you yell as much in the afternoon as I do?
There’s something about 4 p.m. that makes me feel panicky. It’s as if in that next hour, I have to get done every single thing that ever needed to get done in the entire world.
Dishes. Dinner prep. Laundry that I put in the wash hours ago. Clutter pick-up. Homework and reading started for the girls. Make the bed. Wrap up work. Send a few more pressing emails. Call everyone who left me messages when I didn’t pick up my phone during the day (I never do). Get evening plans in line. Beat that motherfucking level on Candy Crush that’s been haunting me all week. Vacuum the front entry. Again. Keep the kids from driving each other crazy, or at the least from killing each other. BREATHE?
Every day. Same routine. And, I’m yelling the entire time.
God, it’s annoying. And I’m pretty sure my family hates me for it.
So, yesterday, I decided to stop yelling.
Everett and I were home, waiting for the girls to arrive via bus, and I let all of the mess just be while we made a chocolate cake. He did most of it himself, got chocolate batter from head to toe and licked the batters and bowl clean. And, I didn’t yell about it once.
Then, we got dinner started. We worked together. I didn’t yell at him when he put his hands all over the olive oil covered potatoes. Instead, he helped me spread them out on the baking sheet. Then, I gave him the salt and let him sprinkle it on the potatoes himself. We prepped the ham. He threw away the gross, ham-juice dripping bag himself. I didn’t yell. We emptied the garbage together. Emptied the dishwasher. Loaded it again. And cleaned up the kitchen, which was now a disaster. All without yelling.
Instead of yelling at him to get out of the kitchen while I did the dinner prep and dish washing, I invited him in. Instead of pushing him away, thinking I could do it quicker and easier without him underfoot, I made him part of the process and as a result, I spent my time enjoying his company and teaching him where to put the silverware, rather than wasting my time hollering at him from the other side of the house to stop doing whatever he was doing that was bugging the shit out of me, for no good reason.
The girls got home and the no yelling campaign came to a quick stop.
Meg is a yeller. I’ve made her that way. After all, when your mom is yelling all afternoon, you probably will too.
She yelled. And I told her, in my best, trying to be patient, non-yelling voice (I have to dig deep for that one), that today, we weren’t yelling. Then, I asked if she would sit with me and color while I finished up some work. The confused look on her face hurt. I’ll admit that. But she stopped yelling… for a least a little while.
I don’t want to yell anymore. No parent does. But many of us do. It’s a habit that sneaks up on you and it’s hard to break. Some days, I can feel the yelling raising up in my gut and there’s absolutely nothing I can do to suppress it, no matter how hard I try. In fact, the harder I try, on those days, the more the yelling consumes me. It’s toxic.
Today, I will not yell. And I won’t tomorrow. Or the next day. I have to quit, cold turkey. For my family… and myself. Because as shitty as it feels to be yelled at, it feels just as shitty, if not worse, to yell.
No yelling. Can it really all be just that simple? I hope so. I really hope so.