This week I wrote a blog post. The theme is clear, the photos are all edited; it’s ready to go. It’s sweet and poignant and thought-provoking and practical. But, you see, it’s also personal to my 8-year-old daughter. I asked her permission to share, and at first she seemed excited. But then she hesitated. I could tell both of us felt uncomfortable about it going public.
I’m struggling because I know the topic would be relevant, and I know you’d all enjoy it, and I know you wouldn’t think any the worse of her; in fact, you’d probably all collectively sigh, “Awwwww.”
But I can’t do it.
There’s always so much I want to share with the world. Back in my teenage years, one of my dearest friends chided me that I was an open book, and she didn’t mean it in a good way. And with the Face(open)book app within reach at all hours of the day, I think we’re all tempted more than ever before to share the intimate details of our existence.
It’s validating, sure. And sometimes our motives aren’t so bad; we think our story could encourage someone, or we want to update the eager family members with baby pictures, or we simply want to document events for ourselves to relive through Timehop later. I’ve done all of those things. Often.
I’d like to encourage you though, to choose a few things to keep sacred. A few memories that you ponder in your heart and tell to no one. Write them down in a journal so you can one day tell your children if you want. Don’t forget them, by all means. Just make their specialness even more special by keeping them to yourself.
Sometimes though, our motives aren’t so noble. When we “share” our troubles with a difficult child or discuss all the ins and outs of each kids’ mistakes, is it really just a sneaky way for us to get attention? To make ourselves appear long-suffering in our friends’ eyes as we put our kids down?
There’s a nasty little term that we use to describe all those actions.
We all know that gossip is an ugly beast. At least when it involves our friends. We know that talking negatively about someone is just a trick to make ourselves look better in comparison. That it often indicates where we feel insecure or inadequate and feel the need to promote our own virtues. So how about with our kids? Maybe we are feeling insecure with certain issues that have come up, not sure how to address our children’s needs, or not sure the best method of discipline for the problem at hand. But instead of seeking help and guidance in our struggles, we decide to put our kids down so our “failures” don’t look so bad.
Or maybe we aren’t gossiping, but subconsciously just want an outlet for to complain without feeling guilty. Life as a mom is hard stuff. There are bad days. And all we really want to do is vent (code word for complain) about just how hard and just how bad it’s really been. We compare notes with others who empathize and sympathize with our bad attitudes.
Yes, I said bad attitudes.
You thought I was going to give you a free pass on that one, didn’t you? I get you, mama. I get how hard it is, and believe me, I do my own fair share of grumbling. But that doesn’t make it right. I’m learning to call it what it is, instead of trying to make my ingratitude sound like something innocuous. It’s okay to have a bad day; let’s just encourage one another to see the end goal, to stop and savor the fleeting moments in the middle of chaos, to express gratitude for the gifts throughout our days, hard though they may be.
And let’s be careful what and how we speak about our kids.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Proverbs 18:21 ESV
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