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The Playground is Half Full Mentality

Why is it that as mothers, we feel the need to compare ourselves and our children to others.  Particularly if the “others” appear to have their act together.

I can tell you that I am deliberately chosing to stray far from that well worn path.

I don’t have my act together.  I may never have my act together.  And frankly, flying by the seat of my control top pantyhose suits me just fine.

I have (in my not-so-distant past) gotten caught up in the playground banter.  Just like any competitive mother.  I could keep up with pregnancy and childbirth horror stories, and what with my gift for embellishment, I would usually emerge victorious.

But all that has changed as I navigate being mother to Jensen.  Life is a free-for-all, and my sanity is up for grabs.  My coping mechanism?

Brutal honesty.

A playground mom might begin a conversation with me by confiding, “My little darling was walking by 8 months.”

To which I respond, “My child can projectile vomit two days worth of groceries.”

It’s all good.

That’s when playground mom can really let her guard down. And get real.  A walking 8 month old can send even a seasoned mother over the edge.  What it comes down to is that we moms need to encourage one another.

I listened to an excellent seminar over the weekend given by Linda Werner on finding and celebrating our strengths.  And particularly the strengths of our children.

And what I came away with is the intense need to be more about the business of being an encourager, and NOT a discourager.  Party over the little things.

Tonight as I was kissing Jensen before bed, he said cheerfully, “SORRY FOR EVERYTHING, MOM!”

(Jensen speaks in all caps.)

A broad smile spread across my face, “Goodnight little boy.”


And to you big mommies out there in the trenches, listen up:



27 Responses to The Playground is Half Full Mentality

  • Thank you! I have been discouraged. Deeply discouraged. And through it God said to me that I could try to help others never feel this way. So at that point I tried to be the encourager. The pep club. And God has helped me do that. But I homeschool. That invites discouragement from others. I still haven’t figured out why that is, but discouragement is dished out often, and still I try to encourage. Even try to encourage the discouragers to homeschool their own children… yeah, right! I don’t often comment on your blog because I love to read and would say the same thing every time and then you’d think I’m a stalker, but today I just had to comment and say that you encouraged me and brought me a tear. A good tear. Thank you.

  • DeeDee….yes. God Bless you.

  • You rock! That is all. 🙂

  • I have a little boy that talks in ALL CAPS too. Great post! I needed it =)

  • Being a parent tends to take the smugness right out of us 🙂 I used to tell friends, “You just have to make them eat it.” LOL

    Yeah, what planet was I born on?

    My first child ate anything and everything that wasn’t nailed down. Then God gave me my daughter. Who turned up her nose at anything and everything. I’m thankful my mom was still alive then because she wisely told me, “They’ll eat when they’re hungry.” Duh!

    But to counteract his will-eat-anything charm, the first child didn’t learn to read until age 8. I had him tested, tried forty eleven reading programs…and prayed. I felt like such a failure as a homeschool mom. God is good and gave me those to encourage rather than the kind who tear down. And there was great rejoicing in the land when he finally learned! (He’s an avid reader today.)

    That same child walked early, and you might tell your playground buddy to have her child see a doctor. I didn’t know it could be a problem, but their little legs need lots of crawling time before walking or there can be issues. My son had to wear leg braces at night for six months or he would have ended up pigeon-toed. We wouldn’t have caught it had it not been for a regular check-up at the right time.

    Oh, and the daughter who was such a picky eater? Will eat anything now 🙂 It’s called growing up. She’s more of a foodie than the rest of us, and that’s saying something!

  • Oh, DeeDee, what an AWESOME post!! I love your honesty. And little Jensen? What a sweetie!

  • Thank you for the encouragement! I am feeling like a failure as a homeschool mom because my son, who is about to turn 9, still can’t read. Like Kim said in a previous comment, we have tried a million different programs…but the kids is amazing with math and has a real knack for building things. I am discouraged and HE is discouraged.

  • Wow, yeah, that’s pretty crazy – I was going to say, walking at 8 months? That’s not so much an accomplishment as it is a NIGHTMARE!!! 🙂

  • Thanks so much for this awesome post Dee Dee! I think we as mothers need to hear we are doing a great job from time to time. Because like you I’m smack dab in the trenches! I get discouraged and feel like I’m failing more than I care to admit! So I needed to hear it, see it, read it.

    THANKS!!! (in all caps)

  • Thank you Dee Dee for that great ENCOURAGING post! I too am done with the comparing and contrasting! I needed your post today!

  • Amen! If the conversation ain’t positive, I ain’t contributing.

  • “Party over the little things.” I like that.
    Good words to read this morning.

  • I LOVE your blog. I found yours after you left a comment on mine about convention. You bring a HUGE smile to my face!


  • What a great reminder! As a mom of 2 quirky little boys, I often find myself never quite satisfied with their actions. Thanks for the reminder that it’s all about encouragment!!

  • You are on the same page as I am. I get so sick of moms competing…and so sick of comparing myself and my children to those moms who look so perfect from a distance.

    Your words hit home today, and I’m going to be sharing this post with other moms in my life. You know, the ones I love and encourage, and who do the same for me. 🙂

  • Wow and thanks, dear, sweet, honest friend. I needed this kick in the be0hind today. I am competitive. To the point where, in 1st grade, Jonathan had to describe his mommy. One of his words? Aggressive. At 6, he knew. And he is a chip of my old block. Holy Moly, he is like me.

    I need to remember these words. Every minute, every day.


    And oh, I still have “that” picture up on m computer. And think of you every day 🙂

  • See, I was doing fine, laughing along with your post (I always enjoy your sense of humour!), until the ‘You’re doing a great job’ part…and then you made me cry!!! Thanks! No, really, thanks! I needed to hear that tonight. I’ve just been ‘melting down’ over it all and ‘who am I trying to impress?’ and yada, yada, yada! It’s great how the Lord hands us a bit of encouragement when we need it most!

  • I found that a lot of the competing went away after I had my second child. I’m sure it was all based out of insecurity, and once I felt comfortable as a mom (not to be read “felt like a GOOD mom,” mind you) and was busy every nanosecond of the day — I just gave up on the whole game. Sure makes it a lot easier to “just get along,” as I tell my boys.

    The other part of that is that I have two kids are (in general) right on target with milestones and such, but the third is in a planet all her own. She does nothing by the books. She throws the books. Eats the books. She’s the child that no parenting advice ever works on. And she likes to serve me big helpings of Humble Pie. Mmmm.

  • Well, I guess I needed that. -’cause I actually teared up. Which surprised even me (: But thank you for sending out the love! I can feel it all the way out in the Rockies! And back at you “Big Mommy”!

  • I thought I’d chime in, not to comment on DeeDee’s post (which is brilliant, as usual), but to comment on the comments from you homeschooling moms who are feeling discouraged. I am NOT a homeschooler. And I admire what you do SO much. It’s really remarkable. And I ENVY what you do. I wish I had it in me to do it myself. But I don’t. And MOST people don’t. So if you are feeling like many non-homeschoolers are critical, or questioning?…REMEMBER that they’re probably just terribly envious and BLOWN AWAY that you are willing and able to do this for your child. It’s the best gift. So…be proud, stand firm and don’t listen to playground mom.

  • I know a woman who would talk about “honoring who her children are.” That is something I try to always remember…not who they aren’t, not who I think they should be or might be, but who they are. It’s the only thing the woman said that ever made any sense.

  • I’m with Carrie – a kid who was walking at 8 months would make me insane! And like Gretchen, I am also a huge admirer of any woman who can homeschool her kids. I would like to but have never really known how to get started and it’s all sort of overwhelming. So if you do it: you’re amazing, imho (just learned that little bit of fancy shorthand lingo, aren’t you impressed? ha!)

  • More power to ya DeeDee!

    A couple of months ago at Costco, a friend and I spotted a mutual acquaintance who was having a heckuva time with a whiny, yelling preschooler. We could see she was embarrassed (at the Costco?) and quickly running out of patience.

    My friend and I looked at each other and started a loud conversation about how that preschooler wasn’t really putting on much of a show for the rest of the moms. My daughter screams WAAAY louder than that and my friend’s son is a much better flailer. Heck, this kid hadn’t even thrown himself onto the concrete floor in front of oncoming shopping cart traffic. “What an amateur,” we said.

    Then we looked the mom in the eye and recalled several more embarassing and awful things our children have done in public and mentioned that her child’s behavior wasn’t nearly outrageous enough to even be remembered and frankly, she was making us look bad. Our kids could out-tantrum her child in under 30 seconds.

    She smiled a teary smile and mouthed a big “THANK YOU” to us as she scrambled over to the next aisle to retrieve her son.

    That felt better than any child-bragging I’ve ever done.

    Please keep it up, Dee Dee. We all need to remember what wonderful (and thoroughly human) beings we and are children are.

  • What a great post!

    I have a friend that is super duper homemaker mom, and I tend to feel about (this) big around her.

    Thanks for reminding me that what you see isn’t what it always is. There is so much more encouragement in the real moments. Those “been there too’s”


  • Oh you always make my day! …usually in a spitting my coffee on the monitor kind of way but this time it was a true heart tug.

    Thank you, dear! 🙂

  • Brutal honesty, I LOVE it! Especially as some of my kids are now teenagers.

    I don’t want to know your kid is on the honor roll — I don’t care.

    I don’t want to know what sport / position your child plays — I don’t care.

    I also don’t care how popular your child is, or beautiful or anything along those lines.

    But, should your child sass off to you, or lied — how did you deal with it?

    Caught them cutting class? They flunked a course you know they *know*? Are they hanging out with a bad crowd? Caught them on the internet looking at things they shouldn’t? What if your child is sullen?

    If you’re my friend, I don’t want your annual “feel-good” Christmas card; I want your real life.

    And that way, I won’t feel quilty when I share mine.