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Mean People, I Don’t Understand You.

The best parents are those who haven’t had kids yet. I was guilty of this as well, knowing for sure what my kids would and wouldn’t do.

I knew they would always be dressed in clean clothes with matching socks and tied shoes. They wouldn’t have sugar that first year. And maybe the second. They would never sleep in my bed. They would always speak respectfully to me, about me, to girls, and about girls. Tantrums? No need to mention those, since they wouldn’t be part of our vocabulary.

I had it all figured out. And then I had two boys, and my pride ever erodes with more and more rainstorms of reality.

So there’s a certain grace I have for not-yet-moms, although it’s not a super wide margin in which I want to hear their criticism and idealism. They just don’t know yet how freaking blessed hard this is, day in and day out, forever and ever, and it never stops even when you’re asleep.

But I had a new encounter this week. Twice.

Two moms with grown children said to me, with a tone of judgment and disgust, “I can’t believe your stories. My sons never, ever behaved that way. And if they had, I would have handled it better than you did just now.”

Isn’t that the most edifying and encouraging way to bless a young mom? You might imagine, I’m not quite over it.

I do not understand mean-spirited people. I am always shocked by their lack of sensitivity and boundaries and willingness to just keep plowing forward, leaving so much damage in their wake. I do not get it.

And right here, right now, God I ask you to put a guard over my lips, tie my hands, so that I may never speak or write such judgement.

Look for a mom to encourage today. Even if your kids never behaved quite as badly as hers. Try to bless and encourage with grace, not judge with self righteousness. She’s got a long road ahead of her, and it doesn’t end tonight at bedtime.

Tricia Lott Williford

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  1. Something I realized early on in motherhood – a track record of so-called “perfection” is actually less about the parenting than it is about the child. For example, my eldest was a super laid-back baby and a dream of a two-year-old (the threes have been…let’s just say, interesting!). For a while, I took credit for that and yes, I was critical of other moms whose children weren’t as well-behaved as my little baby. Shame on me. SHAME on me!!! That is just his natural temperament. God put that in him. I didn’t. God made my firstborn with this unique little sensitive, obedient soul and it’s my job to shepherd that soul. There’s a big difference.

    And of course then I went and had a second baby who is the COMPLETE opposite of his big brother in every way and threw every parenting method I had thus far employed out the window. Big ol’ slice of humble pie there. πŸ™‚

  2. Tricia, I remember reading Robb’s mother’s devotional book for families. I was searching for ideas for Sunday school and classroom ideas prior to getting married. I had a few questions on how free or less structured some of the activities were. Yet, I knew her boys were fun, spirit filled, young men of God. This stretched me. Maybe, living out goldy freedom encourages godly freedom. Now, as a Mom, I laugh at my former self. I love your stories and am glad that you parent with grace and truth πŸ™‚ I, myself, have experienced a similar situation. Newly divorced, my son and I were eating at a restaurant one Sunday, when a couple sat down next to us. We smiled and exchange greetings. Then, within five minutes, the husband said, “He should be your only one, right, at least until you can get married.” My heart bled for the body of Christ. They were dressed in their Sunday best. I am just so thankful that God is omniscient, HUGE, and loves us all to the core. Praying for God’s best for you. Your journey has blessed me so much.

  3. Tricia, I read your stories all the time & think this “I cannot believe how GREAT she handles her 2 boys compared to how I handle mine”. I feel like the “bad” mom when reading your stories!!! shame on those people that say those things to you – I used to worry a lot about what other moms thought about me & how I handle my sons but it got to the point where I just don’t care. Sometimes you just have to yell at one of your children in public or sometimes you need to let them tear up the house & be bad. Your stories truly inspire me to have more patience with my kids.

  4. Classy release of that energy. So nice to read your experiences. Sounds like raising children is not unlike nurturing a business and employees! Meanness and judgement just doesn’t serve anyone. Good to keep moving and know yourself:)

  5. Raising my umbrella with all these other loyal readers; don’t let anyone rain on your parade, Tricia. You are a tremendous mom. For every comment posted there are a dozen more who are nodding.

  6. Wowzers! I wish I could apologize for other people’s meanness. It breaks my heart that you had to go through that. May the bird of paradise fly up her nose. πŸ˜‰

    • That made me laugh, Molly. May the bird of paradise fly up her nose, indeed.

  7. sorry to hear about your encounter….I know from experience that a criticism sticks with you so much longer than a praise. Hopefully, these words of encouragement will tip the balance in your mind and reassure you that from an outsiders view point, you are doing one heck of a great job!

  8. This makes me so very upset. Grrrr. My girl is 8 years old and my boy is 6. They are similar in some ways (super sensitive, artistic, compassionate), but also very different in other ways (think boy–think girl!!) I have struggled so much with how my kiddos are perceived by others, how I am perceived as a parent. Girls are often soooo much easier as far as behavior goes. Boys are boys. The majority of boys are wiggly, squiggly, shootin’, tootin’ boys. And I LOVE them that way. But, I feel like not everyone does. Especially in school. After reading Dobson’s book, Bringing Up Boys, I really cut myself some slack. I love being reminded of how God makes boys. I love your boys so much, Tricia. I love them.

  9. Wow, I’m with Janet. Can you block them? And you are showing so much more grace than I ever would as I would be more likely “share my thoughts” on their opinion, with them, nose to nose, on your behalf. Tricia, all the posts and comments from your other friends and readers here should reaffirm just what a great mom you are to those two boys, and demonstrate to the world what shallow women those two are; those two who should be pitied, then forgotten. That’s the best revenge of all. Your boys are blessed to have a mom like you and we are blessed that you share your life so freely, without judgement. This is the true lesson here, for all of us. πŸ™‚ Laura

  10. I want to echo all the encouraging words from your other readers. And I have a really hard time believing that the children of those DIScouraging moms never behaved poorly. In my opinion, our memories are gracious to us. Maybe by the time our kids are out of the house, we will only remember their angelic moments!

  11. I am so sorry, Tricia. So uncalled-for!

  12. I too was one of those moms that had it all figured out before I had children. There is nothing quite like the wake up call. I would not change one thing of getting to know and love each of my children. I miss the messiness, silliness, and maybe even a tantrum or two. Looking back, they really were quite cute when the were at their worst. πŸ™‚

    I wouldn’t give a thought to what those women had to say. You are FABULOUS with your boys! I often find myself wanting to be you when I grow up!! Never mind the fact that my children are grown, one in college and the other beginning her high school career today. You handle everything with Humor and Grace! Your boys will be the type of men that I hope my daughters will one day find to marry!

    Trust that there are far more of us in your corner and the corner of mothers of young children than those who are so willing to criticize.

    I love to read your thoughts and about the experiences you share of you and your boys. I can’t wait to read your book! I’ve already taken advantage of the pre-sale!

    You are “One AWESOME Mamma” in my book!!

  13. β€œI can’t believe your stories. My sons never, ever behaved that way. And if they had, I would have handled it better than you did just now.”

    Does that mean they know who you are, and what you’ve been through? They actually know your story?

    Shame on them.

    And if they have children, they must know by now that EVERY CHILD is DIFFERENT. I had a dozen of ’em, so I know a thing or two. Some of our kids were very well behaved. They were naturally introspective and quiet, and wanted to please, so it would never cross their mind to behave badly in public, or even at home. Others of our kids were more feisty. They wanted to test every boundary, to assert their independence, to try the reins and see what they could get away with. If someone had seen my feisty kids behave badly, they may have jumped to some (incorrect) conclusions. If they had seen my introspective kids behave well, they also may have jumped to some (also incorrect) conclusions.

    Every child is different, and every set of circumstances is different. It is not wise for an older mother to come across to a younger mother with condemnation. It’s certainly not edifying.

    I wish you could block them from the blog, if they do read it.


  14. Wow. Just wow. For what it’s worth, I think you’re a GREAT mom, and very, very often after I read your posts about something one or both of your boys have said or done, and of what you did or said in response (or DIDN’T say or do!), I fervently wish I could go back and use some of your wisdom and grace in dealing with my own kids when they were young. Your boys aren’t bad boys (as was implied in the comments by the other moms), but are very intelligent and energetic, with lots of spunk and a keen wit thrown in, all of which are great but truthfully bring with them their own challenges when it comes to parenting. Compliant, easy-going children (who, yes, can also be very intelligent and have good senses of humor, etc.) are of course easier to parent, so I guess parents who value kids being on their best behavior can consider themselves lucky if that’s the type of kids they were blessed with, but kids who aren’t like that (and we don’t get to choose!) at least provide you with lots of fun and interesting things to write about!

  15. My auto response is, “Let me AT ’em!” May life, and reality, humble them:) I am so sorry… It astounds me that Mean Girls sometimes grow up to be Mean Mommies, too.

  16. It is easy but wrong to judge when you are the perfect “never have been one” mother. It is also easy and sort of understandable to judge when you don’t remember what it was like to be the parent of a young child. It is totally uncalled for to judge a single parent if you have never been one. Praying that you don’t have anymore of those type of people in your path, Tricia! And praying that both of us will have our mouths guarded and that we will learn from our circumstances to be merciful to those in our lives.

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