Pay it Forward

49 days down, 316 to go.

Dear Russell,
I want to thank you for saving me from my cranky self last Friday. You might not have realized it but the one word you said to me helped me get through the rest of the day. It gave me the pep in my step that I had a lost. So thank you. You are amazing.

Cheers,
The Orange Rhino

*
Day 45 sucked. You already know that. But what you don’t know is that it only mostly sucked, it didn’t completely suck. All thanks to Russell.

About 6 hours after my Day 45 morning meltdown, and about 2 hours after my afternoon meltdown because #1 and #2 came home from school, looked at me, and started up AGAIN, it was time to get all the boys out the door to take #3 to speech therapy. #3 and #4 had opted to shorten their naps (wasn’t that considerate?!) so I took advantage of the beautiful weather to walk to town instead of drive. I SO desperately needed the exercise and sunshine. I prayed that together the two would snap me back into a good mood; that they would snap me back to being a good, on the ball parent.

So I strapped one kid on my back in my Ergo baby carrier, buckled two in the double stroller and took the other one by the hand. And off we went for our mile walk to town. I felt rejuvenated as hoped and thought,

“I can do this. I can make it through Day 45. I feel MUCH better. Mental note. When struggling, get out and walk.”

Am I the only one who thinks positive things out loud and jinxes herself? UGH!

We arrived and within minutes of #3 heading off with his speech therapist, I immediately, thought “sh*t I CAN’T do this!” #4 was screaming again because he was hungry, but wouldn’t take his bottle. And #1 and #2 were whining because two of the boys in the waiting room had doughnuts and they did not. So they opted to show their dismay by climbing all over the chairs, rolling around on the floor, not listening and reminding me every 30 seconds that they did not have doughnuts. It was AWESOME, mostly because there were three other moms watching me (judging me?) as I struggled to keep my composure.

At last #3 returns. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I load everyone up and head for the door. As I maneuver myself and the stroller out, Russell, the office manager, stops me.  He takes one look at me. I clearly look frazzled. And overwhelmed. And probably pretty fragile too.

“I just want you to know that I think you are Amazing. You do an amazing job.”

Well, I certainly didn’t feel “Amazing” and I don’t like to think I am. But guess what, at that point, I said thank you and believed him. Because I needed to.  That one statement made my afternoon. It kept Day 45 alive. It gave me the confidence I needed. It filled my heart with happiness. Seriously.

Because how often as a mom do I feel unrecognized, unappreciated, and unsuccessful? OFTEN.
How often do I feel amazing? HARDLY EVER, if ever.

Why?

Part of that is my nature. I am insecure. Part of that is the nature of being a mom. Of being caught up in the diaper changing, fight stopping, nap training, meal making, mini-van driving craziness and forgetting to stop and realize, wait, I have good kids, I MUST BE DOING SOMETHING RIGHT.

And part of it is that there is no report card in motherhood, there is nothing telling me I am doing a good job. There are just kids telling me they need milk and their bottoms wiped!  And well I like report cards, always have, always will. They inspire me. They make me feel good about myself, my efforts. They remind me that my hard work is paying off. And if my hard work isn’t paying off, at least they say, hey, you get an A for effort. Oh how I miss report cards, oh how I miss the tangible positive reinforcement.

Yes, I could easily say that my boys are my report card. I could say that their behavior 100% reflects my efforts. That their politeness (or not), their empathy (or not), their listening (or not!!) is a direct correlation to my efforts. But at the ages of 5 and under, I think it is unfair, to me and to them, to consider them my “report card.”

Right now, at this stage of motherhood, I can only be evaluated based on me. On my actions. On my efforts. So to hear Russell tell me that I am doing an amazing job, well, it felt great. And it was the kind of positive reinforcement I needed at that moment because the other reinforcement I was getting was   from my boys and it was the importance of birth control!

Russell took 30 seconds out of his day to compliment me as a mom. 30 seconds. Those 30 seconds reinvigorated me and helped me parent the next 4 hours with more love, grace and a heck of a lot more fortitude. You know, like an Orange Rhino. I know I am not alone in wishing someone told me I was a good mom more often…and I know I am not the only one who NEEDS to hear that more often. So I am going to pay it forward. Any time I see a parent doing being amazing, I am going to tell him/her. Starting now.

If you are reading this, chances are that you are trying to yell less at your children. In my book that makes you amazing, because admitting that you need to change takes courage, and trying to change takes even more.

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