Sunday, May 13, 2012

You just don't know.

It's Mother's Day. But you knew that. Hallmark, Dairy Queen and every department store in the mall told you.


Moms have a tough job. It comes with no job description and yet you're responsible for at least one other human life.

And while many of us would not be where we are, or who we are, without the influence of our mothers, I caution those who jump to the conclusion that children are the way they are because of those mothers.

Not every child who is successful in life had an encouraging mother who taught a strong work ethic.

Nor did every child who is a mess have a mother who refused to discipline or didn't try to raise her child well.

I was bothered by some comments made by a mother about a fellow mother this morning. A young child - not more than three or four, probably - acted defiantly. The woman asked him to pick up some crayons that dropped on the floor to which he replied with an emphatic "No! I don't have to!"

The woman was appalled, and immediately determined this child was not disciplined by his parents and was likely the result of a parent who puts her child in daycare and then feels too much guilt at the end of the day to properly discipline and correct the child's behavior.

Uh. Say what?!

Important to note is that this woman is the mother of three very mild-mannered children. Are they that way because she disciplines so well herself, or is it merely their personality and she's never had to deal with a strong-willed child in her home? I suspect it's a bit of both. This woman's children are respectful and show tremendous character. I commend the parents for raising them toward that goal.

But I don't commend her for passing judgment on one of our own...we're moms, and ladies, we've GOT to stick together.

I mean, don't we all try our best to raise our children to be helpful, kind, honest and respectful?

But can't we all agree that this work is a lot easier with some children than others?

I don't know the circumstances of that little boy who refused to pick up his crayons, but I would guess virtually everyone has watched a child of that age test authority in a manner such as this.

Frankly, she could have been talking about my child. Typically, he is pretty good about following instructions like that, but he also likes to throw a 'tude on occasion, and I'd be pretty heartbroken to think someone automatically labeled him as "undisciplined" because of it.

All this to say, I struggle tremendously when people pass judgment on moms. Early on in motherhood, I had a dear friend who taught me a fantastic mantra when witnessing what we may deem as an unfit mother.

You just don't know.

You just don't know what other moms are dealing with in the midst of trying to raise those kids.

Yes, I mean the 4-year-old who still has a baby bottle in her mouth.

Because what you don't know is the little girl battles sensory issues something terrible and that bottle is the one thing that mom can use to calm her sweet soul.

Or the child who is climbing the walls and refuses to sit still.

Did you know his Dad was laid off and had to take a job where he's on the road 6 days a week? His mom is doing all she can to keep the home together, and her child has his own way of coping the loss of Daddy.

Certainly there are cases where a little more effective parenting could make a difference, but I refuse to be the one to be judge and jury in it.

Because you just don't know.

We moms have the hardest job on the planet. Some days we deserve a pat on the back and others a slap in the face, for sure.

We're not perfect.

Our children are not perfect.

So the second you think yours are superior to mine, or I think mine are superior to yours, that's when we've failed our children most of all.

So today, I join in the chorus of "Happy Mother's Day, Mom." Here's to the next year - a year I hope is full of encouragement and love from other moms. Because while we just don't know all of your circumstances, we do know the sacrifice, joy, heartaches, frustrations and total satisfaction that comes from turning a tiny baby into a functioning adult, with hopefully enough sense to clean up what they dropped.

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