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The Orange Rhino

 Mama's Boys  

I have a confession to make.

Even though I love my boys to the moon and back, I yell at them.

Not just once in a blue one either.

It’s more like … I don’t actually even want to admit this to myself … but it’s kind of all the time.

Not every minute of every day, and not every day, but way more than the none that is okay.

I have yelled so loud my throat hurt.


Sometimes it’s HEY! Yelled from across the room or the front seat of the car.

Sometimes it’s GET IN THE CAR NOW to make sure we have a cheerful start to the day.

Sometimes it’s GO TO SLEEP because that’s as relaxing as any lullaby.

But always it makes me feel like an asshole.

And always it makes me wish I never did it.

A while ago, Sam said “I don’t like it when you yell.”

I responded with “And I don’t like it when you don’t listen.”

So there.

What. The hell.

I heard myself saying from that voice that knows it’s not right to yell at these little people I love the most.

Last night, after I yelled at Sam to quit screwing around at ten p.m. because that was the only time I had to myself all weekend and I really wanted to get some writing done.

But as Sam did that thing where he flinches at the sound of my voice rising I realized it wasn’t even him I was mad at.

I just want you to snuggle me, Mama.

So, I did. And I apologized in one sentence for yelling and told him I would work on that. I didn’t spend any more time on it because a) I wanted him to go to freaking sleep and b) he doesn’t need to deal with the burden of my emotions around why I’m angry and how I’m going to deal with that.

As I snuggled with him I thought, well maybe I’m just a yeller and that’s just the deal. We can laugh about it later like my mom and I laugh about her “flying hand.”

But right now, it’s not funny. Right now I have a little boy who doesn’t deserve getting yelled at even if, especially if, he is pushing my buttons.

I don’t want to yell at them. I know other ways to handle things but yelling seems to be my default mode. What if I can’t change it?

Those were some of my thoughts as I prayed about the situation and guess what I randomly stumbled upon: The Orange Rhino, and this article specifically spoke to me:

Sometimes marriage makes me want to yell.

It reminded me there are other people out there wrestling with the weight of similar issues and somehow it helps to know that.

So, I’m jumping in and taking the Orange Rhino Challenge: no yelling for 365 days.

In it’s most basic form it’s like this: if you yell, you go back to day one.

Day one: so far, so good.

Of course, my little darlings are still fast asleep.

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{What’s working}

tune on tues 7-9


What: Tunes on Tuesday

Why: It’s one of those things that makes Summer feel like Summer. Plus, it’s part of my focus on being connected to our community. Oh, and it’s a good reason to dust off the picnic basket!

Where:  At the “Music Park” as the kids call it.

Note: It’s free and super fun. It’s still kind of a cluster getting us fed picnic style but I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it by the time the season ends. Also, if I hadn’t put Tunes on Tuesdays on our summer manifesto list, I don’t think I’d be trying as hard to make it happen.


Sunday Breakfast


What: Waffles

Why: Saves time in the morning

How it works: I cook a bunch of extra waffles, pancakes and/or breakfast burritos on the weekend when I like to make a bigger breakfast for the fam. I freeze the leftovers to use for breakfasts during the week.

Note: Why is it so intimidating to do this for dinners?


What: Battle picking

Why: Sanity

Where: at every opportunity

Note: A recent example is letting Jake have orange juice on his breakfast cereal instead of almond milk. He asked, I resisted but then couldn’t think of a good reason why not so now it’s his thing. Whatever.

(Yes, it’s a hit of sugar, no they don’t drink juice on most days and no Jake can’t have a cup of juice with his cereal – because he also has to learn to pick his battles. Oh, and yes I water the juice down just like my mom did for all the same reasons).

So, friends – what’s working for you lately?

{What’s working: from the archives}

Works in Progress | DIY Furniture | Project Life

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Shift happens

I’m off my meds, in a good way.

I think.

I hope.

Did I really just admit to the world my parents, the handful of friends and few frenemies reading this that I was taking medication to deal with anxiety and depression?

Totally did, and this is why: ever since I had my blogging identity crisis I’ve been managing my own personal life crisis which turns out to have been one of those life opportunities disguised as heartbreaking pain that makes you stronger and more whole than before you became broken.

Background on that another day for those who are interested … today I want to share a shortish story to illustrate the significant shift I’ve experienced  taking place.

I’m actually not sure how this works. Will I forever be like “oh, that’s how I used to do things and this is how I would have felt” as a gauge of how I’m different now, or will my new way of being just become a way of life?

So I’m in my seventh week of this intense self-recovery process (intense, I think because it’s not like I’ve checked out of Real Life as I walk this new road).

We pulled into the driveway after being gone a few days and there was a package addressed to someone across town. Totally different address, house number, etc. I was instantly overwhelmed and pissed.

Now I have another thing to deal with!  I stressed that I had no way to get this package to the right place that day and it was probably important and damn it why are people so irresponsible and why does all this kind of stuff fall on me to do!?

(Are you getting this awesome internal dialogue? Doesn’t that sound like a fun way to roll?!)

So then it occurred to me that what I’ve been working on personally applies to all facets of my life and these ordinary annoyances can be met with a new mindset.


I decided it wasn’t my mistake and I didn’t actually have to do anything about it.

So, I threw the box away.


I put it in my car to be dropped off on my way to work when it was more convenient for me.

The next morning I got to the business, left the boys parked where I could see them, and ran in to drop off the box.

As soon as the woman at the counter saw the address she said technically I was in the right place but the package belonged to a group contracting a building for the summer and I could just “run over there behind the X building, just off of Y street.”

And again I was furious. I am doing someone a favor! I am going out of my way to deal with something that isn’t my problem and now it is my problem and I don’t have time to take it anywhere else …. I put spaces in there to make it easier to read but in my head these thoughts run more together like this: ihavetogotoworkrightnowiamalreadylate which comes with this crushing pressure in my chest.

So, I paused and drew a deep breath. After I stared at her for a moment I said: Actually, I am on my way to work and have my kids in the car. This is far as I’m willing to bring the box.

I smiled when I said it because I was actually calmed down and had realized that she wasn’t doing anything TO me on purpose. She was just better at advocating for herself than I am used to be. It worked better for her to have me take it to this other place, or maybe her boss told her to direct people that way.

But, this errant package was an odd exception and I’m sure someone at that company could make the trip to X building on Y street.

Because it wasn’t going to be me.

Duh! Might be a response for many but truly for me this is big. Even a couple weeks ago I would have schlepped that box all the way to Y Street, kids in tow, wondering why I was suddenly all irritated and put out.

Not feeling put upon anymore is one of my new favorite things.

Right after being free from that crushing pressure of ohmygodihavetofigurethisoutrightnoworelseidon’tknowforsurebutsomethingreallyshittyican’thandlewillhappen.

Dang I struggle to keep the story short. And think of all I left out!

Happy to fill in the blanks for those who ask, feel free to use the comments here or email (see that cute “email me” button in the upper left part of the screen? I spent hours making that, feel free to use it … but I won’t feel put out or anything if you don’t. I did it because I wanted to.)

Shift. Happens.

By the way, when readers subscribe to my blog it’s like getting a high five in my inbox. Of course when they unsubscribe I get all self-conscious. Thanks for signing up to get these free updates from Nathalie’s Notes.



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