Wednesday, June 19, 2013

No doubt

I have a big confession. My children do not get along.  They bicker and fight and they try to bug each other constantly.   We've tried 10,000 different things over the past two years, but the reality is... they bicker a lot. It's frustrating and annoying, and it makes me feel like a terrible mother that I can't figure out how to get them to stop.  Then one day over a year ago I confided in a maternal figure in my life and she said, "I have never seen children fight as much as your children."   Those words stung and were seared into my brain.   My kids didn't come with an instruction manual and I have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to raising them.  I'm doing my best, but there is a predominant feeling that I am just guessing what the right answer is.

Today we went and swam with some friends at their house and on the way home we chatted about having gooey, grilled paninis for dinner.  Not wanting to go into the big grocery store in my swimsuit and towel, I opted to stop at a little deli/market in our neighborhood.   I stood there and talked to the owner/butcher "Tony" in my swimsuit and towel, while he gathered an assortment of meat and cheeses for our impromptu dinner.   When I apologized for my appearance he told me, "I was the best thing that walked in his store today."  He went on to explain that he loved that we walked in wearing swimsuits to get something quick for dinner, because we had spent all day swimming and playing. There wasn't a better way for a family to spend the day.  When I unpacked our groceries I found Tony had slipped in cookies and a note, "You are a good mom."  

Later that night, I sat in the backyard painting deck chairs.  My children were giggling and chatting in the tent we had set up for them.  They had insisted on sleeping in there, but I knew there wouldn't be much sleeping going on.   While I listened to them tell silly stories, I thought about the unexpected note.  For a full year, I had felt like a failure, putting weight on one person's comment. I decided at that moment, I needed to let go, and stop berating myself.   I'm setting a bad example for my kids and I'm doing a good job at being a mother.  After all, my brothers and I bickered nonstop and we are the best of friends as adults.

Motherhood is a tough gig, and I feel like there aren't enough people like Tony the Butcher who are cheering us on as mothers.   From now on, I'm going to make a conscious effort to celebrate my mom friends, to let them know, they are doing a good job.  If you are reading this, you need to know that I think you are doing a fine job in life, whatever your role might be.   It's time for me to start putting stock more in the praise, and less in the criticism.  Also, I think I need to make Panini's more, and hit Tony's Deli more often, especially if he is giving out free compliments and cookies. 

Have you ever hung on to a criticism longer than you should? 


Laura said...

I love Tony! He has really good tri-tip on Saturdays too.

Maxmomma said...

I love that Tony and I have no idea who he is! Your story reminds me of a year and a half ago-- about the time my older neighbors would pop their head over my fence to correct my kids and tell me they were "REALLY LOUD". We had had an awful day at home-- Jonas totally painted the entire deck with paint Glenn left out, kids falling apart, Jonas hanging out the car window( and almost falling into traffic) at school pick-up, having to face my two nemesis with all three kids (Kmart, yuck!; and the post office, etc. I had totally gone bazerk on Jonas for his behavior and could feel judgement for my kids behavior in the post office. As I exited I got the kids in the car, exhausted. A man who looked homeless knocked on my car window and held up a small piece of chocolate (he was wearing a sweater in the heat of summer so I didn't think he was very with it. Thinking he was selling the chocolate, I nodded okay and rolled down my window offering him some money. He shook his head and said "No, No-- for you. It tastes good." I was beginning to tear up for his kindness and said thank you several times. He stopped and in his broken English pointed to my kids and said "No-- thank you. Thank you." It felt like heaven sent that message for a burned out mom-- I know He really does appreciate what we give (even when it is so imperfect, like my efforts that day!). I keep the chocolate that man gave me on my bedroom dresser and remember him often.

Maxmomma said...

Apparently I did not believe in using closing parentheses in my last comment... call it grammatical rebellion.

Anonymous said...

The only critics that matter in that equation are G-d, your kids and Mr. Man. I bet all of those they think you're an amazing Mom. :-)

~ Anna ~

Hillary said...

I was waiting at the deli counter today and the lady in front of me said that I had too many children (three) because two was enough for her. Seriously, they were RIGHT THERE. I said my kids are great. She left and a man got in line behind me and told me how beautiful my family is and that he believes mothers have the brightest stars in heaven and that they are especially blessed. All this in the space of five minutes.

Heather said...

HI! I have a question about your blog could you email me please? Thanks, Heather
Lifesabanquet1 (at) gmail (dot) com