Mother’s Day is long-gone, but hopefully all you moms out there are still smiling at memories of being pampered and loved all day. I know I am! Which is saying a lot for a family with two daughters adopted from foster care. Because of their history, celebrating a “mom” is a bittersweet proposition – and usually more bitter than sweet. Let’s just say I have a tradition of flying to my mom’s house the weekend following Mother’s Day in order to celebrate it being over!
But this one was different. No tantrums, difficult behavior and intensive therapeutic parenting like in years past. In fact my oldest showered me with so much appreciation during the week, I surprised her with a little mom-date to celebrate. We came home from our movie laughing and giddy, with sugar highs and giant smiles that lasted days afterward. It was my first truly Happy Mother’s Day.
Of course most days as a mom aren’t as profound a high as that one. The other 364 days a year, we moms do our best with little praise or even feedback. It’s easy to feel so affirmation-starved that we become resentful of any constructive feedback or criticism people offer. I call it the What-do-you-mean-‘we’re-low-on-syrup’?!-Is-that-the-only-thing-you-can-think-to-say-after-I-wake-up-Saturday-morning-and-cook-pancakes-and-sausage-for-the-whole-family???!! mode. It’s the overwhelming desire to toss the pancakes across the room and spit in that person’s eye.
When I get that way, there’s no relating going on.I shut off to the relationships in my life and start to feel like a victim. Victims are relational vacuums, not participants, thus we end up cutting ourselves off even further from the people we value most. Which is the opposite of what we really want and need.
So what can we do to strengthen relationships in those moments when we feel unappreciated and oversensitive to feedback?
1. Take a deep breath. Remember nobody ever died from criticism.
2. Consider the source. Relationship truly value? Then read on…
3. Decide to listen and receive their feedback. (Receive, not automatically implement.)
4. Step into their shoes. See the need they’ve revealed from their perspective.
5. Give ourselves the pat on the back that we seek from them!
This is much easier said than done, and it takes practice and intention. My kids will attest to the fact that I as often snap at them for their demanding or unappreciative behavior as I step back and handle it with grace. But I choose to keep growing in how I receive feedback. Because, after all, what’s more important? Feeling appreciated right now or having a life filled with people I love?
…Even if I do sometimes want to spit in their eye.