Yes, I yell.

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This blog has nothing to do with cancer.  I kind of wish it did — because then I could use the “cancer card” and it would be way less embarrassing. But I’m just going to be honest.

Sometimes, more than I would like to admit, I yell at my kids.  There. I said it.  I yell.

Sure when you see me at the park I am offering choices: “Do you want to leave now, or in 5 minutes?”  “Do you want to race to the car, or hop like a bunny?”  “Would you like me to help your brush your teeth, or would you like to do it yourself?”

And at Trader Joe’s when Andy is pushing the miniature cart into the back of my heels while demanding that I find the elephant and buy every type of cookie in the store, I take a deep breath and compromise on animal crackers.

And sometimes at the dinner table when literally the only words I can make out between their incessant giggling are “penis” and “poop” and “butt hole,”  sometimes I will make a giant fart noise to get their attention instead of lecturing them on table etiquette.

But sometimes I just yell.  Sometimes I just loose my shit.  Sometimes I throw a temper tantrum.

Today I am pretty sure one of my neighbors heard me.  We were late to our haircut appointment.  Both boys needed their hair fixed. (My dad decided to give the boys haircuts over the weekend . . . please reference the picture now.)  I had already picked them up from two separate places, gotten them home in one piece, made them a healthy dinner, and gotten Andy in his shin guards and soccer cleats for practice.  I felt good.  I was super mom.  I had done all of that with no yelling.  We were going to be on time! I was checking things off the list!  And then there was a boy “bathroom issue”.  That is all I am going to say because I don’t want to sell out one of my kiddos.  I stayed calm.  I was Mrs. Patience.  We got some new underwear. No big deal! But then it was time to leave the house and somebody’s shoes were not on, and then he had to sort through all his parade candy to find some particular piece that for some reason he needed at that exact moment, and I looked at the clock.

“Alex! Come on! We are late! I know I already asked you to get your shoes on! Back away from the candy!”  (The exclamation points identify that I am yelling.)  (And please know this is not my worst example.)

It was then that I looked out the window and saw my neighbor.  I’m not really sure if he heard me yelling, but he probably did.  And I thought about what I must have looked like to him.  Both boys bounced past me to greet him and excitedly told them about where we were going. They were so happy, and so cute.

Ugh.

On some nights after I’ve yelled at bed time, I stare at them after they’ve fallen asleep, and I hate myself for a minute.  They are such good boys.  Their infractions almost always boil down to just being a kid.  They are silly and wild, and I love them for that.

And what’s even worse, is that sometimes the yelling works.  Sometimes when I’ve asked them to do something 10 million times with no results — I start screaming, and suddenly everyone stops and listens.  But it never feels good.  Not for them.  Not for me.

I know better.  I’ve read the articles, studied the books, and been to the workshops.  But sometimes even when I know better, I yell.

I wanted to write this because I recently learned that some wonderful moms I know believed I never lost my cool.  I wanted to tell the truth.  In case I’ve fooled you.

We are all works in progress.  Motherhood demands that we forgive ourselves daily.

With all of this beautiful weather, our windows are wide open.  I am doing my best to cut down on the moments where I lose my cool.  But if you are walking by, and you happen to hear me yelling, just promise me you will stick around long enough to hear me say, “I’m sorry I lost my patience and yelled.  Can I try that again?”  I’m working on that, too.

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Lows and High Dives

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A little over three months ago I was recovering from 6 months of chemo and a double mastectomy.   Tonight I went off a high dive and watched the sun set.

When you are in the middle of the tunnel, you might see the light, but it is hard to remember what it feels like to be in it.  And now that I am out of that tunnel, I see the darkness, but it is hard to remember what it felt like to be in it.  Life is so crazy this way.

My white blood cell counts are going up.  They are not yet “normal”, but they are on the rise.  And my energy is bubbling back to the surface like a fancy glass of champagne.  I can wake up early, help get the kids ready for school, work a full day with my at-risk students, pick the kids up, make dinner, give the boys baths, read them books, and still have energy to go on a walk and do my physical therapy stretches.  I would be deceiving if I didn’t mention Joel’s help with all of that.  And I don’t want you to think that any of this is done gracefully.  The beginning of the school year is always kind of a cluster and my parenting techniques have been a bit questionable.  But man, it feels good to back into the routine.  If it weren’t for this stupid port and my herceptin infusions, shots of lupron, meetings with my oncologist and surgeon, heart echoes, and the beginning stages of menopause — I’d hardly know I just had breast cancer.  (That’s not sarcasm).

People keep asking me if I will keep blogging.  Can you keep a cancer blog, when you no longer have cancer?  I’m touched when you tell me that you still want to hear what I have to say.  I always wanted to have a blog.  Those who know me best know how much I love to write.  They also know I never really consider myself a “real” writer.  I never started a blog pre-cancer because I didn’t think I had anything important to say.  Cancer did give me this gift.  Those first weeks of diagnosis when anything was possible I remember thinking: “I have nothing to lose.  I’m just going to say it all.”  And I did.  And I think I still will.  Because every time I sit down to write, it feels like I am sitting down to have coffee with myself.  And every time I share it with you, it feels like you are listening.

And that feels like being up on that high dive.  Like taking a leap and knowing I’m going to be okay.