The No Nelling Challenge
I’m a yeller. There. I said it.
I used to think it was because I’m half-Italian but now I think it’s because yelling is my default when I feel like I’m not being heard. I hate not being heard. In fact, when I think of all the times my husband and I have fought in the last nearly 20 years, I blame the escalation of the fights on me feeling like he’s not listening to me. He blames them on me not shutting up, which is directly linked to me having to yell louder to be heard.
That was all fine and dandy when it was just me and him but now we have kids. Not just kids but mirrors, sponges and encyclopedias of everything ever spoken within their hearing range.
Even though my husband and I haven’t had a shouting match in a long time, there’s still plenty of yelling going on. Often, there’s no real heat behind the shouting. It’s more like the loudest wheel getting the grease. But, I’ve gone to bed too many times with a sick feeling in my stomach over things I’ve yelled at my kids during the day.
Apologies aren’t enough. As I like to say, don’t be sorry – be different.
So, I’m going on a yelling fast for 30 days. If you’re reading this on Saturday, I should already have 48 hours of no yelling under my belt. I made a point to tell my kids that I’m going to work very hard to not yell anymore and my 3 year old daughter said, “No nelling Mama!”, hence the name of my challenge.
Why am I doing this? Our house is so loud and it’s commonplace for the four of us to yell at the same time to be heard. My kids (ages 3 & 4) are yelling at each other more and more. There have even been times when I was afraid of my anger and prayed to God to help me get a grip. Now, I’m praying to be shown why yelling has become almost automatic for me. It’s not just the volume of what comes out of my mouth, but the words themselves. Sobriety has given me more patience than I ever thought imaginable but the only thing I want being automatic in my life is love and kindness.
How am I going to do it? Like with drinking, I’m quitting cold turkey. I’m also not going it alone. There are countless other moms who’ve done the same thing and have documented their journeys. I’m taking help from wherever I can find it but I’m mainly going to lean on The Orange Rhino Challenge. I’m also going to blog about it as a way to hold myself accountable. Not incessantly, but enough so that if I relapse, others will know. That’s been a very helpful tool for me in sobriety.
Why only 30 days? Why not stop yelling forever? I’m half-Italian, remember? I want to keep it real, folks. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a lawyer because I was told I’d be able to argue as much as I wanted. I’m a passionate person and don’t think that all loud vocalizations are negative. The point of this for me is to be hyper-conscious of my words and delivery so that I don’t scar or shame my kids. Someday, after I have my kids fooled that I’m the Virgin Mary, a well-timed ass chewing might be very effective. 30 days of focusing is long enough for me to learn from the experience but I don’t want to count days forever.
What am I hoping to gain from this? My goal is to develop the tools to be a kinder, more patient mom. Yelling doesn’t work. All it does is make everyone involved feel stressed out and shamed. It’s hard to not be afraid of your parent’s anger when it’s coming at you loudly. My job as a parent is to be a guide. They’re kids and they’re going to make mistakes that I deem stupid but I never want them to feel stupid. How I guide them is how they’ll guide others. Most importantly, how I speak to them is how they’ll speak to themselves. I have a direct influence on what their internal dialogue sounds like.
I hope you’ll come back to see how I’m progressing on my journey! If you need some support in no nelling, here are some resources: