Fruits of Your Labor

Our deck started to show some wear-and-tear over the summer. While the thought of delaying the project was appealing, the inevitability of replacing the deck sooner than later became apparent. My husband decided to take the task on, carefully determining what tools he would need, amount and size of the material, and came up with a plan to build the new deck.

After working on the project for several weeks, he was recently able to start laying down some of the boards. At the end of his second day we were admiring the job he had done so far. He shared that working on the project felt very rewarding because as he completed tasks, he could see the result of his work. He continued sharing that as a parent it’s not always easy to see the results of the foundation we are laying and knowing if what we’re trying to teach is working, and if we will ever be able to see tangible results. I stopped him there and said, “You just gave me my next blog entry!”

As parents, we often are looking for confirmation that we are doing a good job that we are doing right by our children and we’re teaching them, as we should. With the amount of judgment that goes on and everyone having an opinion, we can often feel like our parenting skills, no matter how thorough, how diligent or well intended, aren’t measuring up.

My sons and I were in a coffee shop recently getting a snack when my youngest had a meltdown. The food item he wanted was sold out, and nothing else would do. He quickly went from being excited to dismay to shouting and tears. As I worked to remain calm, my mind was racing with the thought why do you have to do this right now in public? Everyone must think I’m a terrible parent! I could feel anger simmering inside and knew nothing would quill him, and we would have to leave the store immediately. When I told my younger son we would have to leave without him getting anything to eat it only made him more upset. I was angry and embarrassed. He was angry and disappointed. Once we were outside, I asked my son how else we could have solved the problem. Him getting angry and upset only made us leave the shop. It didn’t get him what he wanted. I also reflected on myself, was there some other way I could have better handled that situation? I asked my son the question, “So, what do you think? Is there some other way we could have handled that? Sometimes places we go aren’t going to have what we want.” He seemed to consider this for a minute and then shared some problem-solving techniques he heard in school (Kelso’s Rules): take a break, talk about it, and take a deep breath. I stopped him there. “Those are good ideas,” I said. I also shared some insight with both my boys, “Sometimes Mom feels like she is being judged by others and it can make Mom feel embarrassed and angry. That’s Mom’s issue, not yours. I’m sorry I got angry.” It wasn’t fun to admit, but it felt good to be honest with my kids.

Like my husband pointed out, I’m not sure we’ll ever know the full fruits of our labors of being parents. We won’t necessarily know if we are truly successful in fully teaching our children everything we’re trying to, but it feels good when you see a glimmer of your efforts sinking in, your children making choices that they feel good about, and instances where your child makes a decision that allows for a positive outcome.

How do handle situation where you feel like you’re being judged?

How are you experiencing the fruits of your labor?

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