I’m not perfect and don’t belong on a pedestal!

I am so grateful to and appreciative of all of you who shared your feedback with me about the blog in response to my request, either in the comments section or via email.  It was very touching to me and I was choked up reading all of your supportive comments.  It really renewed my positivity about continuing to share here and I thank you all for taking time out of your busy lives to comment.  Amazingly, that’s all it took to for me to again feel enjoyment in writing here!

Practically, a number of good points were made as well. They were helpful in restoring perspective for me, reminding me that I need to do what feels right to me and not worry about those who don’t like what I write, and helped me stop feeling pressured by not having the time to post as often as I’d like.  As of now, I’ll continue posting as time allows, which will probably become less frequent with time but won’t stop altogether.

I received only one email that was slightly negative, though the writer was very sensitive and respectful in sharing her thoughts, which I appreciated.  I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating – I’m so impressed with the quality of the visitors to this blog!  I’d like to respond to her point here, because I think she raised an issue worth commenting on.

>>Here’s the constructive criticism part, and I want to say explicitly that I am only saying this because I have so much respect for you and really admire you, and because I feel that you are my role model in certain areas of life. So — I don’t think you’re fully accomplishing what you set out to accomplish, which is helping young mothers. Young mothers these days feel lost and disempowered. They are definitely looking for guidance. But your posts are too far out of reach for them. You come out as this perfect, all-knowing mother, and I know this is not your intention, but they might feel intimidated and maybe even criticized. I was once telling a younger friend about something I read on your blog, and she told me she read it and felt put off because you said that a child should always listen to the mother and she felt she was nowhere near that, so she ended up feeling incompetent…… I’m just bringing this up because I think it would help young mothers more if you were more aware of their reality and maybe more empathetic …..<<

About five years ago, I was gifted with the opportunity to stumble onto a private blog that significantly improved my life.  This woman had a very large family (I think she had about 15 or 16 – don’t remember the total because she had three children in the short time I read her blog), was homeschooling, and when she shared about her life, hearing the joy she experienced with her children inspired me – I had never met or heard from someone like her.  Even though I had six children at the time (was newly pregnant with no. 7) and I was a pretty good parent, I still felt incredibly inadequate next to her- she seemed to do everything – and I mean everything! – better than I could even imagine doing it.

At the time there were things that my children did that were acceptable to me because it never occurred to me there was anything lacking in the way it was.  For example, when my oldest was 12, he once got angry and said, “I hate you!”  I didn’t react to it – in fact I felt almost amused hearing such a stereotypical comment, and patted myself on the back because I didn’t overreact or become negative.  But when I happened to mention it at a parenting class I was attending at that time and the instructor said, “Well, that’s fine if you don’t mind your child speaking to you in that way,” I didn’t understand why he didn’t share my positive view of how I handled the situation.  Any of my peers I would have talked to would have thought I dealt with the situation well and said it was normal for a child to talk like that.  Now that wouldn’t be acceptable to me at all and the intent of the instructor’s comment is crystal clear. But I couldn’t recognize that there was something lacking there until I saw the example of someone who had a different standard for ‘normal’ than I did.  And it was this woman who took time to share about her life who changed my view of what family life could look like, to show me that there was room for improvement in how I was doing things.

I chose to be grateful for exposure to a more effective way of looking at homemaking and parenthood rather than get sucked into feeling inadequate.  Sometimes I was really perplexed about how she got certain results since they seemed so intimidatingly remote from where I was at as a parent – but she gave me a lot of food for thought.  And those thoughts led to improvements in how I parented and ran my home, and the understanding that while I couldn’t be her, I could certainly be a better me.

A challenge of the internet is that because we don’t see someone in person, there’s a tendency to forget that the person writing is a real person with human failings, and them on a pedestal.  Being aware of that possibility, I’ve been careful not to set myself up as the perfect parent.  I’ve never pretended to have all the answers, to respond to every situation with perfect calm or with the right answers.  Just like everyone, sometimes I’m tired, tense, irritable, and disappointed with my very imperfect responses, and I’ve shared that here!  I have ideals as a parent that I don’t always live up to myself!  But there is a saying, “Shoot for the moon, and at least you’ll reach the stars” – having goals gives me a target to shoot for and even if I fall short, I’m better off than with no target at all.

This blog is a place where I share about what works for me and respond to questions about how our family navigates different situations.  I’m sympathetic to young mothers and having stood in their shoes, and in many ways continuing to be in a place that’s not so different from them, of often facing new situations that I don’t yet know how to handle (that’s the reality of kids growing older and new stages, as well as every child having their own personality!). While I believe I’m aware of their challenges (I speak to many people in real life in exactly this stage), I accept (reluctantly, sometimes!) that you can never make everyone happy and that people ‘hear’ what I’ve written in different ways.   I can only be who I am, and write from my ‘voice’.  I’d love it if every single person who read here sensed the concern and support I feel for mothers who are doing the best they can, and the understanding I have for their struggles.  But of course that’s not possible.

I’ve tried to be as honest and accurate as I could be when posting – it would be foolish to pretend to be more than I am since so many readers have met or will one day meet me in person!  I’m not apologetic for not filling up posts with my fears, doubts, inadequacies, or struggles.  I don’t even want to fill my own mind with that negativity!  Though I sometimes mention frustrations or difficult situations I’m experiencing, sharing that on a regular basis instead of sharing the growth and gains wouldn’t be helpful or inspiring – not for me or for my readers.

On a side note, if any of you are wondering what blog it was that I was so inspired by, it sadly no longer exists.  It was shut down after about a year and the entire blog was erased.  Despite a huge base of appreciative readers, the woman blogging evoked hostility from those who were threatened by her.  They mocked and attacked her, saying she was too ‘perfect’, accused her of making things up and even lying, since ‘clearly’ it was impossible for her to be so organized, or happy, or for her kids to really all get along that well, be so well-behaved, etc.   I think she finally decided she’d rather enjoy living her life without sharing since sharing put her under unexpected fire.  One day I visited the blog, and every single post had been deleted.   I was really sad when this happened and for years hoped that somehow she’d start blogging and I’d rediscover her.  As disappointed as I still feel to this day that I no longer can access her experience, I really believe G-d knew I craved inspiration to grow as a parent and sent it to me via this woman and her blog at a time when I couldn’t find it anywhere.  And because this woman whom I never met was such a help to me, it was her example that was my motivation to start this blog four years ago!


11 thoughts on “I’m not perfect and don’t belong on a pedestal!

  1. I’m so glad you came to your senses (j/k) and understand that your loyal readers adore you! 😉

    I totally understand your feelings about your blogging mentor — for years I read Christian/Catholic/Mormon oriented sites in order to learn how to deal with a larger family, SAHMing, faith based parenting, and homeschooling. With my discovery of Imamother and you, I have no need to lurk there anymore. While I can and do filter out non-Jewish philosophies, it is so much nicer to be amongst people striving in similar ways…

    My only riff off of the comment you mentioned is that many mothers when early on in their mothering careers (when the kids are young) is they feel like they are drowning and can’t even see to understand that you (and other veteran mothers) have been there and you too, probably (??) felt this way and so therefore understand what panicky feelings persist in their mothering. I know I am not too far from those days and remember them vividly.

    Perhaps you can give in your parenting posts your memories (both in a more objective way looking back AND how you remember your feelings at the time) to remind those newer mothers that you empathize with their struggles at their stage of the game…

    I hope your family’s Tisha B’Av was easy and meaningful.

  2. Just to add to what Yael said, as someone who’s not a parent *quite* yet, but looks to your blog for inspiration and practical things I can downscale to fit where we’re at now, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with what you’re doing now, at all.

    However, if you *do* want to focus a bit more on what would be useful to newer mothers (and like I said, you don’t need to – just if you want to), then perhaps a bit on the differences between how you do and did deal with the very young children would be helpful. Obviously you have a lot more people around now (and you have addressed this in the past, which is why I don’t think you need to think about it unless you want to), as well as a lot more experience, but perhaps a reflection on which of these two (among other factors) makes more difference in how you treat your current babies/toddlers from how you looked after your oldest children when they were little.

  3. I am definitely one of those panicked young mothers and would also appreciate your guidance on “newish” parent concerns. Your younger kids have the benefit of older peer role models and an already established family discipline structure that my kids don’t. Sometimes I do flounder and don’t know which consequence to impose, and when I search your blog for keywords for things like hitting, biting, lying etc I can’t always find enough to give me guidance to apply it to a 5yo and a 2 yo. Maybe when you share your approaches on parenting older kids you can also include the approach to be taken with younger ones.
    And to respond to your earlier post about feedback–PLEASE keep blogging–I know I’m being selfish in stating it like that. As a leader and a mentor (and I’m not saying this lightly) you have people who turn to you for guidance. My husband for one thinks I’m addicted to your blog and every once in a while asks me if “The Blog told me to do that.” To be fair, it started when I started making yogurt and leaving beans on the counter to sprout, but still…
    Thanks for sharing yourself with us!

    1. Because my initial focus was on young mothers, I wrote extensively about issues regarding young children earlier on in the blog. I’m happy to respond to specific questions now, but at this point I think I’ve addressed the bulk of the concerns (sleeping, fighting, disrespect, teaching limits, enforcing your requests, etc). I didn’t start this blog until after I had already been implementing my shifts in parenting for over a year, so everything I’ve written is pretty much how I do things now, though obviously there are subtle differences that occur over time. You’ll have to dig back a little in the archives – look at the parenting section, then start from the beginning.

      At this point my focus isn’t targeted to any age range; I write whatever I do with the hope it will be of interest or help to whoever is reading.

  4. Perhaps you could write a post about ten (or some random number) things you have learned over the years (or learned from another’s instruction) or things you have changed in your parenting style…

  5. Avivah, I don’t always get a chance to read your blog right after you post and sometimes I” read and run” without leaving a comment even though I usually have one in my head. I think you should know that there are probably more people reading and running and gaining form your blog than you even realize :) I know I have steered a few moms your way….
    thankyou for sharing your life with us :)

  6. Avivah, I haven’t been around in a while – I’ve been busy with a new grandson! But I’m glad you’ve decided to keep blogging. (And very sad to hear about your “mentor blog” harassment.) Would it be possible to set up a separate place for questions for young moms? Or maybe in your signature you could invite mothering questions in the comments section even if it isn’t relative to that day’s blog. If you’ve answered the question in a previous blog entry, you could reply with a quick link. Or maybe you’d find that you have new thoughts to share.

    But even if you decide to keep everything as is, you are still not only helping young moms but also creating wonderful heritage of memories for your family to glean from in times to come.

    1. I noticed I haven’t ‘seen’ you for a while. Congratulations on your grandson! Thanks for your suggestions – I do accept questions that aren’t on the topic of the post of the day but it would be easier for readers if I regularly noted that below my sig, as you suggested. It’s so nice to know that a visitor to my blog who has your life experience still feels it’s worthwhile to read here – thank you!

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