Each morning, I wait with my boys for the school bus. Our neighborhood is filled with early morning walkers, most past their parenting years. One of my sons was on the ground investigating something on the sidewalk. A walker approached and I shouted, "MOVE!" The polite walker said, "Oh it's okay." Not wanting to seem an overbearing mom, I replied, "We're trying to teach him awareness of others."
Little did I know that statement would spark a five minute conversation. I discovered my neighbor was a retired 4th grade teacher. In her opinion, awareness of others and basic social skills are just as important as academics. She shared some things she'd encountered in her years in the classroom and reassured me it's never too early to start teaching good manners. Our conversation ended as she said, "You're a good mom. Keep up the good work!" She popped her earbud back in, turned and resumed her power walk.
My neighbor had no idea three days ago, I'd taken my children to the pediatrician with claws for nails and scratch marked arms from a recent brotherly tangle. She couldn't have known my husband found a cup of spoiled milk in my minivan when we swapped cars yesterday. I hope she couldn't see the toys strewn on the floor from our front windows. She had no idea of my recent mom failures.
What she could see was that I was a mom that cared enough for my children to invest in what I believe will make them the best people they can be. My daughter may have wild, uncombed hair in public, but love, manners and concern for others are drilled into my children. That's what is important to our family. That was enough for her to deem me a "good mom".
I feel I have pretty good parenting self-esteem. I work hard not to compare my family too much to other families. I was surprised at how much her simple positive comment reassured and fortified me. It also made me realize I need to be more purposeful in supporting and encouraging other parents as well.
Have you encouraged a good mom or dad lately? Share your story, I need some ideas.