THE LITTLE RED HEN
Have you ever heard of the story of the little red hen? It is one of my personal favorites. It goes something like this….
There is this little red hen and one day she decides to plant some wheat. She asks all the folks around her if they want to help her plant the wheat. “Who will help me plant this wheat she says?” wanting someone to help shovel the dirt and sow the seeds. No one seems to want to help they even tell her they are just too busy. Then she asks if anyone wants to help her tend to the seeds she planted. Will they help her water and weed the garden. Nope, again no one wants to help. Then she asks as the seeds begin to grow who will help her harvest the wheat. Still a resounding no is heard across the land. She next asks who might like to help her grind the wheat into useful flour. The same answer all around. No No No! they all say. Next she asks for help in baking the flour into a loaf of bread. No one is available to help the hen with this chore. Soon a lovely smell wafts through the air as the little red hen begins to pull her freshly baked bread from the oven. She then asks one last question. “Who wants to help me eat this lovely bread?” They all of course yell yes, because it smells great, it looks great I’d bet it’s wonderful. Do you know what the little red hen says… FUCK OFF!!! I did all the work and now I will be the only one to reap the reward!
Ok so that is not EXACTLY how it goes but you get the general idea right? So how does it apply here… Well of course you know I’m gonna tell you. I am by no means perfect. I am not the best mother. I am not the most wonderful wife. I am learning, growing and changing everyday. I am happy in this constant changing state. For it is when we no longer strive to be better or to grow and change that we become stagnant and we all know what a stagnant pond smells like. It’s the same with people. Stagnant people smell rotten and can spoil a great day of fishing! I want to change, I need to change and I love not being perfect or not knowing the answer to every question life asks me. I think imperfection is also a good thing for my kids to see. That way they know they too can fail and that failing in life is sometimes even more important than succeeding because some of life’s greatest lessons are learned from our failures. Having said I am not perfect and that I do not have all the answers I am once again going to remind you that you do not have to listen to a word I say here in this Blog. I do not have a Psychology degree, I am not a doctor. My only area of expertise is my own life, and what it’s like to be me. No one knows how to be me better than I do and no one knows how to be you better than you do. So read this blog if you want, or don’t. It’s no matter. I am simply writing it as I said from the beginning because I have heard more than one woman, on more than one occasion say the exact thing I am thinking and so I figured if there is ten of us maybe there is 100 or maybe 1000 or maybe even 100,000 who feel the way I feel and wonder the same things I wonder. This blog is nothing more than my collected thoughts on how we can bring about a change in our lives and maybe just maybe start living a little happier. I am all for happier aren’t you? So if you want that change and you feel the way do then read on because I do have some ideas. Anyhow back to the little red hen before I trail too far away. I was saying that I am not perfect. I make mistakes all the time. My kids are not always dressed before 11 am, and not always in matching outfits. Sometimes we forget to brush our teeth, sometimes I stop at McDonald's because I don’t have time to fix a perfect dinner. I yell a lot more than I should. I cuss in front of my kids sometimes. I talk on my phone while driving. I let them stay up late too often. I let them see me get stressed out over bills sometimes. Because of my mouth sometimes my son says the F-word. Because I used bottled water without fluoride for my daughter in her formula as a baby she has three cavities. I did not breastfeed my third child. Sometimes I say “Shut up kids!” Sometimes I don’t read to them at bed time. Sometimes I let them eat candy. Sometimes we do not have a well balanced meal. Sometimes when I am stressed my anger comes out at them and not at the person it should be directed toward. These are the things I lie awake at night fretting over. These are my failures. These are my pitfalls and my open wounds. The things I feel guilt over night after night. I am not perfect. But you know what? I am the one who feeds them, I am the one who bathes them, who wakes them up and puts them to bed. Who buys their groceries, who shops for their clothes, who does their laundry, who mends their wounds, who dries their tears, who brushes their hair, who teaches them about life, who reads them stories, who sings them their alphabet, who talks to them about the friends they chose, the boys they will date, the girls they will marry. I am the one who has planted these little seeds. I am the one who is tending this little garden. I am the one who will reap this wheat and grind it into flour and I am the one who will bake this wheat into bread. So if you have no plans on helping me with any of these arduous tasks, if you have nothing constructive to add to this recipe, then do not for one minute think you will be eating this bread. You will not try to arm chair quarterback me. You will not yell from your house across town a commentary on my mothering skills. You will not sling words at me in fit about the job I am doing. You will not whisper you observations to one another about how you think things should be done. You will not tell me how to raise my children, and you will not sit in judgment of the things I chose to do. My children and I will have our own day of reckoning where they will be my judges asking me why did you let me cuss? Or why did you let me eat so much candy? Why did I not get to go to cheer leading camp or tryout for football? Just like I asked my mom why she did so many things I now think were so wrong. I am fully aware that that day will come. I live everyday of my life with it in mind, but THEY are who I will answer to. No one else, not my neighbors, not my in-laws, not my mother, or my father, nor my sister, not her husband, not my friends, not the woman down the street, the man in the mall, the couple at the table next to us at dinner. My three kids will be the ones who get to line me up for the firing squad. No one else, it will be between me and them. When I yell too much I think of this.
So having said all that I leave you with a thought? When did we all think it was suddenly OK to pass such harsh judgments on other mothers? Think on it a while. Have you done it? Have you sat back and tried to partake in bread that you had no helping hand in making? Her kid is fat, she must take him to McDonald's too much. Her kid has cavities; she must let her drink too much soda pop. Her kid isn’t talking yet, she must not be reading to him. Her kid cusses, she must be a terrible influence.
Maybe time would be better spent thinking about what our own kids might be saying to us when that judgment day comes. How will you measure up to their little rulers? I feel pretty certain that if you stopped once in a while and asked yourself, "Is this good for my kids?" your choices might differ. If you lived all your days with that thought in mind don’t you think you might be a better dad or a better mom? Don’t you think you’re kids might be happy with the mom you turned out to be? I think you will agree that the answer is a resounding "YES."
Judgment is the catch phrase of the next decade. You hear people saying that it is not good to judge others. The fact is that we all at some point do this. At some point was all have found ourselves forming thoughts about the person next to us and they may not be nice ones. That is simple human nature. The problem occurs when one loses the common sense to instead of keeping that idea, that opinion, that "judgment" to yourself and decides to tap the person on the shoulder and say .."You know I think what you are doing is bad." It is not your place to say. Keep those judgments to yourself. As I have already said. My kids are the only ones who will have a say in what I have put them through. They will be the ones to "Judge" my actions. I do not go through a day and wonder to myself .."What would my friends think of the punishment I just gave to my daughter." I do however wonder what my daughter will think and if she will someday understand that I did it to send a message and that the message was for her good. The only approval I need is theirs. Having said that. To sum up again. Ask yourself... Is the way I am raising my children a way that will in the end leave them thinking that their parents loved them? Will they think that their parents gave all they could to them? Will they think that their parents did the best the could possible have done everyday of their lives? Then and only then can you relax. Then you can eat the bread.