Since joining the ranks of motherhood nearly 5 years ago I’ve been reminded time and time again about the importance of encouragement and kindness.
We live in an often cynical world. A world where people frequently allow their own insecurities to rule them and justify their judgmental and unkind behavior. Sadly, this is all too evident among moms. Especially in cyber-world. Working moms, stay-at-home moms, work-from-home moms, formula feeding moms, breast-feeding moms, helicopter moms, free-range moms, if you potty train too late, if you potty train too soon, if you let your kid eat sugary food, if you only let your kid eat organic locally sourced food, if you spend too much time on yourself, if you let yourself go, if you’re too skinny, if you’re too fat, if you co-sleep, if you use cry-it-out, if you spank, if you don’t spank. DAMNED IF YOU DO, DAMNED IF YOU DON’T!
It’s easy to find someone ready to hurl criticism. Why not be the person ready with a kind word of encouragement and support?
I’m not perfect. Not even close. I’ve judged others and perhaps offered criticism when I should have just offered support. But in the end, that isn’t positive or constructive for anyone. Why is it so difficult for us to just smile and be kind to others? Are we afraid that if we acknowledge that they’re doing something right, than maybe that means we are doing it all wrong? And why do we always believe there is only one correct way of doing things?! We are all different. There are an infinite number of ways to do things. Just because what works for me is different, doesn’t make it any better or worse. Just different.
Motherhood is hard. Like, super hard. The last thing most of us need is someone else feeding our own doubts and insecurities. You don’t have to agree with someone’s particular methods to support their efforts. Sometimes a few kind words can go a long way.
I remember one time when I was struggling with a newborn and a toddler in the grocery store parking lot. I was trying to calm a fussy baby, wrangle a fidgety toddler, and unload groceries. I must have looked particularly defeated that day because a kind lady approached me and said, “You’re doing a really good job. It’s so difficult when they are this young, but it will get easier.” Then she gave me a wink and was on her way. I almost cried. It was exactly what I needed to hear that day.
Conversely, I can remember a time I had taken my flight-risk toddler to the mall play area. I was very pregnant with my youngest at the time and of course feeling hormonal and lousy. In the bustling chaos of a play area covered in tots I lost sight of my own little one. Panic set it. I began dashing around the play area looking for my daughter only to hear someone say “Is that your daughter running through the mall?”. There she was. Halfway down the corridor, tiny blonde hair flowing behind her as she ran barefoot through the mall. In my rush to get my pregnant body to catch up with her, I passed a group of moms standing by the entrance. One of them said (in a tone that was obviously directed at me and intended for me to hear), “Somebody needs to keep a better eye on their kid.” Not what I needed to hear that particular day.
And try to be mindful of the fact that we all have bad days. I would hate for someone to base my entire ability to parent off of a single snapshot of a really bad day I was experiencing. I’ve had moments I was less than proud of when I’ve handled parenting situations like crap. That doesn’t mean I’m a crappy mom, it just means I’m having a crappy moment. It means I’m human. Extend people the same courtesy you would hope they would also bestow upon you.
So this week I have decided to extend a challenge to you.
At some point during the next week, I challenge you to lift up a mom with kind words or a helpful act.
It can be a stranger or a friend. It can be a small gesture or a grand one. If you feel it is something you can share, please tell us about it in the comments. Also, please feel free to share about a time when someone lifted you up in kindness.