( If you are seeing this post/journal for the first time, please scroll down and begin with the post titled 'Day # 1'.)
Today's post is a slightly longer post, since it combines three days worth of 'yelling less' and also has a few footnotes on what I learnt from the challenge, so excuse the length :)
It's always refreshing to finish something that you begin with the best of intentions. It is especially exciting when you reach and cross the halfway mark of your predetermined goal.
Let's begin with the good news: We made it! Yes, a whole week went by and I stuck to my guns and did not yell!
It was incredibly tough to complete this challenge. Why? Well, here are some of the reasons:
- This week, I was holding the fort on my own, since the spouse was away on business for ten days.
- I had a birthday party to prepare for and it took every ounce of patience and self-control I had, to prevent myself from losing my cool, every single time Gy would decide to do something to annoy me.
- I threw my back out in a severe muscular spasm on the morning of Day 6, which was coincidentally Gy's birthday.
So, there I was, feeling extremely sorry for myself, but the fact that I had publicly declared the undertaking of the challenge made me accountable and thus, determined to complete what I had begun.
Day # 5:
After Day 4, yelling less or not at all seemed to become easier. Gy woke without too much fuss, was very thrilled about the upcoming special day and left for school with a smile on her face. The rest of the day went in prepping Gy's bag with treats to be taken to school the following day. She arrived home, beaming, full of good intentions and completed her homework with little supervision.
Since it was 'birthday eve', we spent the evening, talking, joking, reading a book together and snuggling in bed by the end of the day. To be honest, it was one of the best days we had had in a long time.
Day # 6:
Very often, I have to remind myself that she is a child, learning as she goes along. I cannot expect or demand understanding and reason at this tender age.
The sixth day dawned and so did my darling's seventh birthday. It was a great way to begin Day 6, dressing up my daughter for her special day, picking out accessories, deciding on how to wear her hair. . .
Then, it happened. I went for my workout, bent down to pick up something and felt an excruciating, shooting spasm along the lower back area. I couldn't move, walk or even sit without shedding a tear. And, I don't know about the rest of you, but physical pain and discomfort are my biggest temper triggers. It takes very little to set me off on a rampage, especially when I am not in the pink of health. Sensing impending disaster, I planned to drop the rest of the challenge and focus on my well-being instead.
That afternoon, a neighbour picked up Gy from the bus stop and dropped her home. Her first reaction was so much concern and love that I made a resolve to see the challenge through, even if the pain was intolerable. She promised me that she would not do anything to make me yell at her!
It struck me then that this is exactly the kind of situation I should face and see how well I fared. After all, life is known for being rather annoying and insensitive. It throws boulders in your path just as you're happily covering that last mile in the marathon. So, if life isn't going to stop, why should I?
True to her word, she quickly donned her dress, polished off her meal, wrapped up her homework and insisted that I stay in bed, while she answered all phone calls. After popping a painkiller, sleep overwhelmed me. When I awoke, the pain was back and I decided it was time to see the doctor. In the interim, Gy had intercepted calls and told everyone that her mother was in pain and couldn't answer calls. She even told my sister ( who wanted to chat via Skype) that she would come online only if her Amma felt up to sitting at the laptop that evening. My sister was so impressed by her niece's candour that she couldn't wait to share it with me!
The rest of the evening, a very close friend took complete charge. She took me to the doctor, stayed with me, came back home and put on a pot of tea, got Gy fed and into bed and left only after ensuring that everything was within my reach. With that, a very painful but emotionally satisfying day # 6 came to a close.
Yes, it was the last day of the challenge. No, the pain wasn't gone.
In cold panic, I realised I was unable to get out of bed. This meant that Gy would sleep through the alarm and not be ready on time to board the bus. I steeled myself, inched my back to a position where I felt the least pain and gingerly turned over on my side. It took another five long minutes to prop myself up to a sitting position. With tears stinging my eyes, I nudged myself out of bed and walked very slowly over to Gy's room.
Being in the throes of agony, I couldn't sit by her side, cuddle her and wake her, as I had begun to do in the recent past. There I stood, by her bed, calling out to her. To be honest, I wanted to yell, since it was already 15 minutes past the wake-up call, but I reminded myself that she wasn't to blame in this case.
Then, something wonderful happened. Her eyes snapped open and she jumped out of bed. 'Amma, why are you walking about? Your back! Go and lie down. I will get ready quickly.'
Words failed me. I went back to bed and watched from there as she quickly ran around, getting bathed, getting dressed and packing her bag. In the ten minutes left before the bus arrived, I made my way to the kitchen, prepared her milk and braided her hair.
All this occurred while I cherished how concerned she had been for my well-being. Since said friend from the previous day had offered to pack her lunch, that was one thing less to worry about. Another friend had offered to pick her up from home and drop her at the bus stop.
As I saw her off that morning, I wondered where my baby had gone. There was a mature young lady walking out the door, with enough love and understanding to rival any woman my age.
Footnotes at the end of the challenge
What impressed me the most about this challenge was how brutally honest I had to be, in order to see things the way they were. The fact that most of the yelling triggers originated with me and not with the child, was an eye-opener; or the fact that I have a 28-year headstart on her, as far as being mature and understanding is concerned and even the fact that I could deal with a situation without raising my voice or losing my cool, is something that I truly learnt in the performing of this challenge.
Can I honestly admit that I will NEVER lose my cool again in the face of unpleasantness or disobedience? No. But if I do lose it, I promise to step back and recall this challenge. I will remember how I felt during the 'Less yelling week'. I will relish the sense of calm and control I experienced in that time. Most importantly, I will cherish the image of my daughter's face when she realised that Amma would not yell at her if she slipped up or made a mistake.
Read more on my weekly challenge here:
You can read all about my 'Yelling Less' journey under this tab
(Linking up with the moonshine grid over at Yeahwrite )