Saturday, May 16, 2009

Of course I think I have the best kids in the world! What mom in her right mind wouldn't think that? I'm sure you all do. With that being said, I know the faults of my children better than anyone. I teach them each day, try the best I can to remedy any problems we have, and strive to help them feel good about themselves. That's why whenever someone says something remotely negative about one of my kids (no matter how small and how unintentional) it kind of gets my guard up. I am ENTIRELY aware that this is due almost completely to my own thought processes.

Take this for example. Complaint number 1 - comments about my son's weight. I have a rather chubby baby boy... he's 7 months old and is over 18 lbs. He is also VERY short which makes him look even bigger. Everywhere I go I get comments.... (with eyes large as if they can't believe what they're seeing) "Wow, he's really big." Or "what are you feeding him?" Most the time this is said with a smile and I get these comments as often as "I love his chubby cheeks" and "he is so cute." So, there is absolutely NO REASON for me to be bothered. Yet sometimes.... I am. I think part of it is that I just get tired of hearing the same comments over and over again (it gets wearing). I think another big part of it is that I filter the comments through my own worries, frustrations, and ideas. While a sweet mom is saying, "oh he is a big boy" and she means me to hear "he is really cute and healthy" I am actually thinking this: "maybe he is too big, maybe I feed him too much, maybe I should cut out a feeding, what am I doing wrong? etc...."

Number 2 - I also like to read into things. :) Someone says to me or my 2 1/2 year old little girl, "are you potty trained?" with a big bright smile on their face... and when one of us says no, their face falls and they say, "oh well..." and of course I'm thinking that she should be trained by now and it is my fault and I feel I have to justify to someone why she isn't potty trained yet. And then I hear all the amazing stories of 18 month olds and 2 year olds who are potty trained and how someone had a child who trained in a week.... and I'm thinking again, "what am I doing wrong?"

But, let me be straight, these are all fleeting feelings!! I feel like I am good mom, I love my children, and I feel confident in my abilities. :) I'm not saying that I let others affect me, but I am bringing up a very real part of being a mom that we all probably experience. I have no doubt in my mind that (for the most part) when someone says something that annoys me, that was not his/her intention. It is my choice!! I need to choose to not be offended (and I think for the most part I am pretty good at this). In a moment I might be annoyed, but I let it go rather quickly. So here are my two questions.

What have other people said about your children that gets to you (even if it is momentarily) - sometimes it is good to share. I'd like to feel like I'm not the only imperfect one here..... :)
What do you do to make sure that the comments of others don't make you doubt your abilities as a mother?

Let us know! I'm excited to see what you have to share with me.


Jared and Delia said...

Oh there are many! My baby is very small for his age. We actually are working on it very hard and had a month when he actually lost weight because of illness...anyway that is all a long story. When people say harmless comments about how small he is, the worry I already constantly feel gets heavier. Even when they say reassuring things like, "Well you and your husband are small so that is just the way he probably is." I know they are trying to help, but any attention on it makes me more worried.

My oldest is small too and it used to bug me when people commented on that, but now that he has shown me over 4 years that is just the way he is built (and it is not my fault), I can easily let those comments roll off my back...most of the time. :)

The best is when I am in Sam's club, my oldest son's tantrum store of choice for some reason even though we spend less time there than anywhere else AND they have samples, and he is screaming because he is enduring a consequence for misbehaving. I am just trying to buy my purchases and get out of there. Many people are sympathetic and say " he sad? Did he miss a nap?" Some employees offer to give him candy to get him to be happy and stop crying to which I reply "no thank you." I am not going to reward bad behavior with candy. I feel like I am doing the right thing but all the disapproving stares (most of them I am sure I am imagining but some I am not) make me second guess myself. Am I a bad mom for letting him just cry while I finish my shopping? Should I be more embarrassed for my child and duck out of the store and then return later? I also begin to question my parenting. Am I not teaching him compassion by ignoring his cries? Am I being too strict or harsh?

Deep down I think/know I am not, but I get hyper sensitive about it especially in a stressful situation like this one. It think it derives from a good part of me that realizes that even though I am trying my best to be the very best parent I can be, I know I am not always right. I could always do better and should continually reevaluate myself to ensure I am doing the best job. Others' opinions can help me see that. It is when I let this good process get warped and twisted and allow it to diminish myself to a self perceived terrible parent that it goes from good to bad.

andrea and heathe said...

I also have a very chubby baby! He is 8 months old and weighs over 20 pounds. Like you, I get comments all the time about how big he is..."he is such a brute!" or "what a brick!" or "what are you feeding that kid?" I try not to let it get to me but it is hard! I am constantly wondering what I should be doing different with him.

Also, my little guy didn't roll over until he was 5-6 months old and I heard it from everyone..."He isn't rolling over yet? You should do this or that..." I wasn't too worried about it until people started commenting on it which made me worry but then he fnally did it!

Most recently, I get comments and suggestions about how my son still doesn't sleep through the night. We live in an apartment with fairly thin walls and our son is awake and screaming at least 3-4 times a night! I get horrible comments all the time from neighbors about how loud he is or how he keeps our neighbors up, etc. Like I don't already know that!!! I'm the one in there with him :) It's hard because I am really trying to help him learn to sleep better but others' don't see it I guess.

Because of these things, I realized that you can't control what other people say but you can control what you say to others. I try not to be the person commenting on others' kids and making them feel inadequate because I know how that feels.

Chris and Laura said...

I really like this post, Tannie. I've been thinking about these same things lately.

Those of you who know my family know that my daughter has a large birthmark directly underneath her right eye. It is dramatically improved now from the huge purple, bumpy mass it was a year ago, but it still looks like she has a perpetual black eye. The constant question: "Oh, what happened to her eye?" with looks of great concern. Most of the time, people are either worried that she really got hurt (which is nice, I think, that strangers worry that any small child might be in pain) or else they're just curious enough to ask.

The thing I really, really hate is the questions that obviously mask the real question: "Do you beat your child? Do I need to call the police and report child abuse?" No one has ever been blatant enough to actually ask that, but there are times when you can see it in their faces and hear it in their tones of voice.

It amazes me sometimes how quickly people will jump to conclusions after literally meeting us for two seconds. For my own personal comfort, let me state that No, I DO NOT HIT MY CHILD.

Thanks for letting me get that out. :)

That's the one thing that really, really bothers me. My other thing that bothers me sometimes is more related to what Delia said. A friend of mine commented once that I seem more like the parent of a third child than the parent of a first child--meaning that I am laid back and casual about a lot of things that most first-time parents are more concerned about to begin with. I am totally fine with that. Maybe it comes from being in a family of seven kids and my mom doing day care in our house for my entire growing-up life, but I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on what matters and what really doesn't matter in the long run. I do get comments and looks though (real or imaginary?) that suggest that I am too laid back and don't care enough about what my child is or isn't doing. I am confident that she is growing up just fine, but the comments do occasionally make me wonder if I should at least fake it around other people so I'll look like a better mom. Is that terrible?

Like Tannie said, I feel like I'm a good mom and I'm doing the best I can for Jane. I know that there are always things I can improve on, and I do work to fix things as I feel it is necessary. But I don't stress about what other people think is necessary. I may stop for a moment and evaluate how valid their point is and decide if I need to do something about it, but beyond that, I let Jane direct what kind of mom I need to be.

One random funny story: When my sisters and I were little, it really irritated my dad when people would brag about their own children, always trying to show how their child was better than anyone else's. He wasn't one to brag about us, though. He would let a mom go on and on about how amazing her child was, long enough that she realized that he wasn't saying anything at all. She would stop and ask, "Well, what about Laura? How is she doing?" In complete deadpan, my dad would respond "Oh, Laura's retarded."

Now, I am not trying to make any politically incorrect statements or crack an inappropriate joke. The point I want to make with this story is that I was obviously not retarded in any way, but it would point out to the other parent that maybe she should be nice to other kids, too. My dad's method for dealing with annoying or bothersome questions was jokes (and some sarcasm...). Sometimes you have to turn something uncomfortable into something funny so it doesn't bother you anymore.

Again, thanks for posting this. Every now and again it's nice to be able to vent some of the things that bother us to someone else who can really relate. If any of my comments came out weird, it's because I was retarded when I was little.

And by the way, I think you are all amazing moms with amazing children. :)

Megan said...

When people start to make comments, it is mostly from people I don't know and I have to remind myself that they don't know me or my child. The one thing that really bugs me is when people don't believe my how old my son is. I had someone in a supermarket not believe me that my son was over 1 years old. It was frustrating and annoying and I finally walked away. Those situations really frustrate me, but I just try to remember that I know my son and where he should be and that is fine.

Laura, like you, I have been told I am too laid back. The thing is, I had two younger siblings, and have watched my brother and sister with the oldest kids and have learned that it's okay to not be laid back. I figure as long as my child is not hurting and is healthy, it's okay.

Liz, Karl and Madison said...

I HATE when people make comments about Maddie's hair or Lack of hair. I KNOW she doesn't have hair... do you think I don't notice it or something??? Anyway I don't want to go into a lot of detail but I also hate when people call her a boy JUST BECAUSE she doesn't have much hair. Her face is girly, her clothes are girly, what other clues can I give you? I have had her called a boy while wearing a VERY girly dress. AAAAH. Anyway, sometimes I just don't think people really think about what they are saying and how they really do affect us as moms.

Jes said...

The things I hear the most about my child are shocked comments about how chubby she is (same as you guys mentioned already) and that "she STILL doesnt crawl?! Well my child WALKed at 7 months blah blah blah..." lol now, she doesnt crawl, and she still wont even roll over (though she can and has). The chubby comments Ive just heard so much that Ive become to bored with them and being annoyed by it (mostly when they ask about how much she eats and etc.. Im not just annoyed by it in general until they hint thats its a negative thing)that I dont really even notice anymore. However, the crawling and walking comments do bother me since she's 10.5 months and the comments are increasing. That one makes me wonder whats wrong with how Ive tried to help her and so on... sigh oh well. Im sure she will eventually.
So yeah, how I handle it mostly I guess it just try my darndest to ignore them! -and focus on the nice/positive comments that usually follow (ie "Wow she's a chubby baby! What are you feeding her?!... oh she has big pretty eyes!"...see? Ignore the size one and focus on her pretty blue eyes)
Im very interested in the discussion for this topic, because I need to learn how to deal with this kind of stuff a lot better and not to take things so personal.
Also.... I dont know how it was for you ladies, but while pregnant I got TONS of 'well-meaning' comments!! I HATED it! favorite? *rolls eyes*
(said after comments about how I was 7-8 months along and supposedly not showing very much) "Oh you ARE getting bigger! Youre just CARRYING IT ALL IN YOUR LOVE HANDLES!" ... I didnt know whether to laugh or cry! Some poeple!

Kaylyn said...

I also get comments that seem very well meaning but just seem mean. My girl has been walking for a long time it seems, but is very shy around people. I get comments like "is she walking yet!" I say yes and then they seem like she must have just started walking because she is shy. Or that she must not walk a lot because some times she is not very stable. She is a really good walker/runner now. I can now let these comments go pretty easy.
I also get size comments a lot because she is so small. Most are like you and your husband are small to. It doesn't really matter what size we are, she is healthy and happy focus on that.
Thanks Tannie for posting on this subject. I also want to say sorry to those friends if I have ever made those comments to you to make you sad or mad. I am also working hard at filtering my comments to other moms to make sure they are genuinely nice or not to say anything at all.

Tannie Datwyler said...

I LOVE all these comments! I especially love hearing that I am in the same boat with so many of you.

Delia (and Megan and Kaylyn) I really like what you said about it being annoying when people mention that your babies are/were small. Because I am used to getting the fat comments, sometimes I think it would be nice for someone to say, "oh, he is so small," but in reality, it is the SAME THING! I have been more aware of this and careful as I talk to other moms. I try hard not to say anything about a baby's weight/height/size anymore.

I appreciate how Delia said that it is best to not worry about the things that really are not your fault. I think I do that sometimes, but really, some things are out of your control.

I also love how Delia said that part of the reason we get so offensive is that we know we aren't always right. But, I think if we are aware that we can always improve and do our best to be the mothers we know we can be, we can give ourselves a break to make a few mistakes!! Thanks so much for that thought Delia.

Andrea - I feel your pain! You sound like you have my life. :) My son is 7 months old and STILL doesn't sleep very well (sometimes he does... it is hit or miss). Sometimes I get offended when people tell me how to do it... since I've tried everything. We should start a support group "mom's who can't sleep" HAHAHA. :) My son is chubby too - so hence, I feel very keenly what you were saying.

Laura and Liz - I laughed so hard reading your comments. I will be so careful about those things from now on. I know that it is hard Laura. I felt so bad that when you were at my house and a friend of mine (who you didn't know) said rather boldly and a bit rudely "what is wrong with her eye." I wanted to die of embarrassment because I had invited her there and she was being kind of rude. Liz - Maddie is a doll, so know that must be annoying to get those boy comments.

Jes - hahaha, the pregnant comments. People should just BE QUITE. "You look like you are about to pop," was my least favorite.

Most of all is what several have already said. I am going to be MORE CAREFUL about what I say to other moms. I don't want to hurt anyone, so I will be more censored.

Cel Frumos said...

My daughter was a HUGE baby. Rolls everywhere! I'll never forget our first night in a new ward, the only comments I got were, "Wow -- she's only four months? Are you sure? She's so big!" Not a single person said she was cute or oohed and ahhed over her.

As a first-time mom, it was devastating. I'm sure the comments were well-intentioned, but they left me wondering if I was doing something wrong, and the obvious question: is she going to be overweight as a child? a teenager? an adult?

From one to two years old, my daughter barely grew -- going from the top of the growth charts to the bottom. Now she's 4 years old and weighs 33 lbs sopping wet. Over time, I learned that size as a baby has NOTHING to do with size as a child or adult. But it was trying. I know I shouldn't have been so easy to take offense, but I would have loved to have more positive comments instead.

A more sensitive subject that hasn't really been addressed is commenting on a child's behavior. One of my neighbors has a daughter who was just diagnosed with autism. Her daughter was having a fit at the store in the checkout line and the cashier said: "Send her home with me for a few days and she won't act out like that."

My friend kindly told the lady that, with all due respect, her daughter had autism and was unable to control her emotions like most kids her age. Rather than apologize, the lady launched into a tirade about how you can train even the most difficult children if you'll just put enough time into it.

My poor friend is a GREAT mom, and having just received the autism diagnosis and being devastated by it already, this was more than she could bear. She left the store bawling and vowed never to return.

I know this is an extreme example, but it was a good reminder to me that we NEVER know what someone is going through with their kids. Even commenting on a child's unruly behavior in sacrament meeting or their inability to stop crying at nursery drop off can be really hurtful. Comments like "Your kid sure has a lot of energy" and "Is she always like this?" are hurtful, too.

Megan said...

Cel, I love your comments regarding behavior. It is so true that we don't know what someone else is dealing with. I got a comment in church yesterday regarding something my one year old had done and the person commenting probably didn't know I had been husbandless all week and was at my wit's end on trying to get my son to behave. Thank you for the reminder of not assuming things about others situations.

Jes said...

Oh Cel! I cried when I read your comment! Id never thought of it that way! My little brother has severe behavioral 'disabilities' (I hate that term, but they havent diagnosed/figured out what exactly he has still) and Ive never thought about how people's constant comments would affect my mom! Ive only ever thought of my little brother. Thats a good thing to keep in mind!

Tannie Datwyler said...

I LOVE that comment too. It reminds me to be more open minded. I NEVER say anything to a mom about her child's behavior (that is just hurtful), but occassionally I do think "what is up?" I love what you said about no one knowing what their situation is - and I will give the benefit of the doubt to that mom - she is doing the best she knows how. My brother had severe ADD when he was younger and he had a primary teacher who was VERY rude to my mom about it, so I know about those types of stories as well.

Thank you also Cel for your comment about your chubby sweet baby girl turning into a thin 4 year old. I know I shouldn't worry about things like that, but I do. I am happy with a chubby baby, but I too hope that he won't be overweight later. You can't be more right, some babies are really tiny and later on in life they get bigger and some babies are chubby and thin out fast.

Beth said...

This doesn't have anything to do with the current post, but I just wanted to say: I don't like the new layout design. It's too busy. I liked the old version of the blog better; it was much cleaner and you could actually read the things on the side.

That is all.

Kym, Shaun and Riley said...

Just as Delia said, one thing that bothers me is when my baby is fussing people always seem to jump to conclusions that he "missed a nap" or "has an upset tummy" or "doesn't feel good" or "he's must be hungry", etc.
And, it's probably true that the one of those things is wrong because Riley doesn't really fuss too often unless there is something wrong.
And with baby's weight....unless there is a huge drop in weight why does it matter what they weigh? What do you think our parents, grandparents, etc. did? I don't think they had studies/doctors telling them that their babies were "too small" or "too fat". I have a niece that is 1 month younger than my little boy and she weighs at least 4-5lbs. more than he does. They both seem healthy to me.
And finally, kids and potty training. I know it may seem frustrating to some of you who have kids that are "old enough" to be potty trained. But something I have learned and observed while growing up is that kids will do it when they are ready. I have several younger siblings and my mom tried to potty train them when she thought that they should be ready. But then they would both be frustrated.
Thank you for this blog. I really love coming to read it and see what other moms have to say about the topics other bring up. And, my son isn't old enough to do the crafts yet, but I really like the craft corner. I'm always up for some new ideas in case my sister and brother come down, or in case I baby sit.