Obviously, by the title of my blog, you can tell that I have far more imperfect moments as a parent than perfect ones. I don't strive for perfection, but try very hard to be a 'good enough' mommy. I think trying to be a perfect mommy is futile and bound to land your kids in therapy even faster than being imperfect.
I will admit though, that when someone compliments my parenting, it warms my heart. Its like getting a really great review at work. It just feels good to have your hard work noticed. Good reviews at work usually come around about once a year and, I think, in the world of parenting, they are even rarer. My job review will come when its time for my kids to make it on their own in the world and either realize that their parents have equipped them for success or failure.
The other day, I was out to eat with the girls. It was my "treat" day on my diet and I was splurging my weekly points on a burrito. The girls were happy to accompany me as the "Macamole Store" is one of their favorites - that's toddler speak for Chipotle where they eat guacamole and chips and beans and rice. It had been a difficult morning and EC had been particularly precocious, refusing to get dressed, refusing to brush her teeth, refusing to sit on the potty and then wailing when I tried to comb her hair. My patience had been tried again and again and I wasn't really looking forward to taking this show on the road, but I'd eaten all the fruit in the house and needed to buy more.
So, we headed out, first to the grocery store where they were pretty well behaved, then to the toy store where they climbed the store displays while I tried to order a birthday present for an upcoming party and, finally, to the restaurant. By the time we hit the restaurant, we were doing pretty well and the girls were back to their charming, well-behaved selves. As we sat eating lunch and talking, I was trying to get EC to eat some of her beans. I told her that she would make it into the Good Eaters Club if she tried them because they would make her very strong. And she did try them. Then, I staved off a sister fight over the guacamole by convincing them to take turns dipping. Our lunch was turning out to be a rather pleasant one and then it came - a compliment from a complete stranger.
Usually, these take the form of "your kids are so well behaved," but today, the compliment was for me. The woman at the next table stopped on her way out to say that she appreciated the way that I spoke to my children. I was a little taken aback, but she continued, that she often just barks at her kids to, "Eat!" and that she was inspired to try to talk to them better after listening to me with my children. Inspired? I felt the tears spring to my eyes after I thought about the difficult morning that I'd had with the girls and how, instead of losing my cool, I'd endured until we all got into a better mood. And somehow, we'd all turned a difficult day into a nice memory.
I did assure the woman, that she'd caught me in a good moment and that I barked too, but I couldn't help but be a little proud that I got such a nice compliment. And I also got a reminder that it is such a kindness to stop and talk to a stranger who gives us pause. That woman gave me a little gift in giving me a compliment. She had no idea how difficult my morning had been or how nice her compliment would be for me to hear, but she gave it anyway. She has inspired me to stop the next time I overhear a mom talking to her kids and think, "I could use that line!" Inspired me to let that mom know that I appreciate the way she's raising her kids, because I know just how inspiring such a compliment can be.