This year has been a year of tremendous personal growth for me. I have learned many lessons, but there are three in particular have really changed me. I thought I’d share. Since I am into “looking back” this week.
1. Being critical and judgmental is just a waste of energy. So are friends that bring out these traits in me.
Before I had a child, I had all kinds of opinions on how to be a parent. The woman in the store with the screaming child was a major irritation. “I would NEVER tolerate that” I thought to myself. And then I had a baby & I learned that sometimes, there is a story behind that mama. Maybe she had a husband deployed and has been on her own for a month (or five) and has a teething baby who has kept her from getting more than two hours of sleep in a row for three days straight. Maybe not. Maybe she is not a disciplinarian & is reaping the rewards of that choice, but maybe there is more than meets the eye. WOAH, Shawna. Do you hear yourself?
I used to be highly critical person, both of myself and others. For much of my life I carried on thinking that because my way worked for me, it MUST work for everyone. My standards should be everyone’s standards. I spent a lot of energy criticizing others for “x, y & z.” But boy have I learned my lesson. My successful system may be someone else’s greatest failure. What is right for one mama just isn’t always right for all & as one of my dear friends always tells me, “your way is the right way for YOU. Period!” (If I could add her North Dak-ooohhh-tah accent in there, I would!)
Being someone who chooses to do things far from the norm, I get a lot if noses stuck up in my face. Lots of people pass judgement on me, and you know what? It is not very nice. I have encountered some very harsh online discussions recently on several different forums. Women can be really mean sometimes. Often, when I look at the root cause of the snide commentary, it’s one person saying “x” is the right thing to do, and judging another person for not doing it her way. Why can’t we all be tolerant of others choices regarding parenting? We don’t all have to do it the same way. I see a big learning opportunity. I know I have learned a lot from my friends who are doing different things than I am.
This year I have rid myself of acquaintances that have brought out this side of me that I am trying hard to shed. This blog will always be a place of support for innovative parenting & creative thinking. There is plenty of room in this world for nice mamas. When you find good ones & surround yourself with them, the days get just a little bit brighter.
2. You get to live with the kids that you raise.
Awesome for you if you raise great kids. But you get out of them what you put into them. Maybe that mom in the grocery store with the screaming child gets that every time she goes to the store. Maybe that happens at home too. Maybe there is a reason for the behavior. BUT…she gets to deal with it. Not me!
I am at a place in life where I am comfortable choosing my company wisely & I choose to spend time with those who have children I enjoy. You are the company you keep!
3. Manage my expectations.
This has applied mostly to my relationship with my husband. The root of all our arguments the past year was nothing more than my mismanaged expectations. He said he’d be home at eight. He was home at ten. I was frustrated he was not honest and I had no way to contact him. Truth was, he was in a case that ran over…and that supersedes his promise to me, oh you know, because someone’s health is at stake. Got it. But I was mad. So, we managed expectations and our attitudes improved. “Just plan on me not coming home.” (Indeed, the life of a young surgeon.) And it totally worked. It was rough, but it worked. My job=baby. His job=patients. We expect both are 24 hour-a-day jobs & somehow, we manage. Wise words from a dear friend of mine: this is just a season. I can hope so, anyway.
Can you share your biggest lesson? I bet we could all learn a lot from each other!