When I walked into the store I had exactly one hour to get my grocery shopping done. Armed with my list and fueled by my coffee, I knew I could do it because for the first time in ten years I’m alone during the day and I can run errands by myself.
I’ve grocery shopped with a baby in a carseat taking up just enough space in the back of the cart to lull me into thinking I can fit my groceries around her. Filling nooks and crannies with bread and broccoli and the occasional box of OREOS, I wouldn’t realize that I was out of room for things like milk and toilet paper until all the spaces around the carseat were completely filled. I’d leave the store teary-eyed and dazed, wondering when I’d ever make it back.
I’ve grocery shopped with a new baby in that carseat and that first baby all “big” and toddler-like, hanging onto my leg or wanting to hold my hand or not wanting to hold my hand and running away from me or (therefore) strapped into the front of the cart requiring songs and words and attention ensuring that I would remember the OREOS but have not a single teeny tiny hope of remembering the toilet paper.
And I’ve grocery shopped with two toddlers strapped into the biggest cart ever and a baby in a Bjorn because by my third baby I was so over the cart in the backset and hallelujah, the toilet paper (and the OREOS!) made it home.
I’ve left stores because any one of the four of us was crying or whining or yelling. And those quick-footed steps out the door came with a frustrating, overwhelming feeling of wasted time and not knowing when I could come back and embarrassment and lack of control and exhaustion.
So to say that I was peaceful and grateful walking into the store this week, is an understatement.
I finished my shopping quickly and was waiting in line when I heard it.
The sound of a toddler whining and a baby crying and a mother shushing was so familiar I wanted to sway with that mama and shush with her and walk right out that door with her.
The checkout clerk was quick and efficient. As she loaded my groceries into neat bags those wails and whines were getting louder and closer. I could feel their urgency and she could, too. She caught my eye, shrugged her shoulders and said, not unkindly, “Someone’s having a bad day.”
And the truth is that they probably both were. I remember how panicky I would get in those moments. Heart pounding, skin sweating, voice rising. So what I said back was filled with those memories. “You just want to bring her a coffee, don’t you?” Not because she necessarily needed it, but because those days are so ridiculously hard.
We’ve all been there, haven’t we?
Just when I was on the cusp of leaving days laced with kids and entering days wrapped in alone time and my kids were a little older and a little quieter and a little more in school, I came across The Orange Rhino Challenge. An anonymous writer was (publicly) sharing the rawest, toughest, most humbling moments of her parenting and how she was trying her very best to overcome them.
Her story began when a worker in her home overheard her Wild Mama Yelling at her boys — she was pumping, her baby was sleeping, and two of her boys were having a sword fight with the pump parts.
There was crying and jumping and waking and it was all just too much. So she yelled. But when the worker made an “excuse me” noise and she knew he had overheard her, she dug beneath the surface of how she was feeling, how we all would have been feeling, and realized that she’d never have yelled at her kids if she knew he was there.
So she challenged herself to not yell at her kids, even when her own heart was pounding and her own skin was sweating, and she asked other parents to join her.
She was onto something.
Her challenge grew quickly — to the tune of 52,000 Facebook fans. Parents were drawn to the idea that we’re all in this together, we’re all trying our best, and that there might be another — better — way to treat our kids than yelling at them, and we could muddle through figuring out how together. So when she decided to write a book about the topic, her fans jumped on board.
I was thrilled to review this book. Not only do I adore the author, who eventually went public as Sheila McCraith, but I truly believe in her message and love the way she delivers it.
The book is humorous and light-hearted and absolutely filled with easy steps you can take the second you read them. Sheila shares her own stories in the same way she did when this challenge started: humbly. She makes you feel like you’re getting advice from the mom next door or the one in the pick-up line or the one at the grocery store.
By the way, that mom that I saw at the grocery store? She handled things so beautifully and I told her so when I saw her in the parking lot. We stood together and teary-laughed in the rain, her kids safely strapped into the car, her cryer already sleeping.
I’ve heard many people refuse books and topics like these because they don’t want to “be guilted.” I need you to know that’s not how this book works at all. Reading this book will feel like two moms on the same team, talking about parenting, standing in the rain, drinking well-deserved coffee.
You can preorder Yell Less, Love More: How the Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids – and How You Can Too!: A 30-Day Guide That Includes: 100 Alternatives to … Steps to Follow… and Honest Stories to Inspire right now.
And you can also enter to win an autographed copy of the book and an Orange Rhino goody bag right here! The details are below — good luck!