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Cherishing the Me in You

Affiliate Disclosure | in Motherhood | by | with 29 Comments

WHOMP! The Dryer Smacks Shut And I Turn Around

All that’s visible over the countertop are her bright eyes and a captivated expression. Oh, and her little hands lifted high, thrumming something fine and feathery between her finger and thumb.

She looks as if she’s playing a tiny harp of silken reeds, and I lean against the dryer to watch quietly in the adoring way that mamas do. And then it dawns on me: She is stroking Micah’s hair, and it is no longer attached to his head. Uh, WHAT?!?!? What came next will probably not surprise you, but it did my Katie.


It’s so pretty, mommy!” She looks up at me through her long lashes and for just an instant the absolute wonder and adoration for her brother almost melt me. **Almost**

I check Micah’s hair, and yay! – it’s not too bad. Yet another reason to proceed calmly. Is that what I do? No. It has been one of those days, and I am feeling D-O-N-E.

Then about halfway through my rough lecture, an inner dialogue begins:

Are you scolding her for the severity of what might have been, instead of holding her accountable for what actually is?

But she was wrong! AND I need to make a big impression so my son doesn’t end up bald somewhere down the road.

Really, you NEED to make a big impression using condemnation and/or shaming to keep her from doing it again? You can’t just put the scissors out of reach??


You know, overreacting has now cost you the opportunity to instruct your daughter. YOUR actions have stolen the show, and she will now learn one of two things: how to justify her behavior even when it is wrong  (as you are doing), or how to admit fault and make things right.

Two years ago, the next words you’d hear from me would be about what an inadequate mother you are: failing constantly in this way and that. But I am not going to say that, because you need grace as much as she does.

A few seconds later I was asking Katie for forgiveness, inquiring if her heart was hurt in any way. No, she told me, but she really would like her (children’s) scissors back!

Later on, when I told Daniel about all this, he said something that cast things in a whole new light. “Don’t you remember trimming Micah’s mullet the other night right in front of her? You held each lock like it was sooo precious before you put it into a keepsake envelope. She learned it from watching you, Heather.”

UGH! Stab me through the heart why don’t you?

Suddenly the whole event looked completely different. This was not a simple repeat offense from the girl who had hacked her own hair with plastic safety scissors three months before. Sure, the method may have been the same, but the motive was totally different. Katie had picked up on how important that little act was to me and sought to write it into her own soul . . . and my anger interrupted it.

Was she wrong to cut her brother’s dirty blonde locks with scissors I had already asked her to put away? Yes, definitely. Have I ever done something I knew I was not **supposed** to go but had a very strong urge to? Like, eat a whole box of Julie’s Ice Cream Sandwiches in one sitting? Um, yep.

My point in saying that is not to lower the standard for my daughter (or myself). It’s to remind myself that we all allow our impulses and desires to rule us sometimes, and that parenting is about helping her find appropriate ways to work through that.

“This is how a mother _________.”

Isn’t it funny how versatile that phrase is? How a mother loves? Scolds? Comforts? Teaches, maybe? Or yells? In every interaction with her dolls – and sometimes her brother – Katie seems to be trying to answer this question.

And actually, so am I. So a few days later we pulled the scissors down from their new home and took a little snip together. Placing the golden strands into Katie’s very own keepsake envelope I whispered, “This is how a mother cherishes.”

What lessons have YOUR kids taught you about parenting?


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29 Responses to Cherishing the Me in You

  1. Renee says:

    Hi Heather,

    I’ve been lurking your blog for a while now. I have learned a lot from your blog and not just about cooking. I love how you interact with Katie and Micah. Your love for them is so evident, and I wanted to thank you SO much for sharing this post. It was very encouraging for me and it made me shed a few tears (that you would ask your toddler-aged daughter for forgiveness is incredible). Thank you so much for being a great blogger and sharing these moments with us. You have really been an encouragement to me in Christ.


    • Heather says:

      Thank you for the kind words, Renee. I’m an idealist when it comes to food, and parenting, and just about everything except housework. :) I am also completely unable to live up to my own standards! To be sure, before becoming a parent I thought I was a pretty good person, but now I know I am selfish, quick to anger and jump to conclusions. Without grace and forgiveness, I’d be sunk.

  2. Julie Whetstine via FB says:

    aw… i <3 this!!!!

  3. Mommypotamus via FB says:

    Glad you liked it, Julie. I’m trying to be more open not just about the approach I’m trying to take, but also the ways I mess it up. It’s a vulnerable feeling but hopefully it will keep me honest :)

  4. Julie Whetstine via FB says:

    it is the same stuff we all struggle with — just trying to do our best for our precious kiddos… we aren’t perfect — but they are so well loved… okay, forget the laundry, “it’s play-doh time!!!”

  5. Elisabeth says:

    That last line made me tear up a little. Beautiful, Heather.

  6. Elisabeth says:

    Hey, have you ever read the positive discipline book, by the way? I picked it up a couple months ago and found much of it pretty profound. Your inner monologue while scolding Katie is what made me think of it – you were pretty much quoting the book’s thesis, there.

  7. Heather says:

    I have their A-Z book, which I often run to when Katie does something and I have no idea what the appropriate response should be. Like every parenting book, I don’t 100% agree with the author, but it has helped me wiggle myself out of some pretty tight spots!

  8. Heather says:

    Either you must stop writing such beautiful posts, or I must stop reading them on a break at work. People are going to think I’m depressed, crying all the time at my desk 😉 Anyway, I’ll start reading your posts at home, where my husband can look at me in bewilderment and wonder what in the heck is making me tear up today? Just a truly wonderful post. You always inspire me to be a better mommy, and I truly thank you for that!

  9. Jesse M says:

    Your posts always make me a little teary (but so do the end of Disney movies and watching 5 minutes of a sad movie)…… BUT, thank YOU for sharing the beauty of life and helping us to see the world in such a beautiful light that we can strive for everyday in our hectic-ness!!

  10. Alison says:

    Can I be honest here? Sure, why not! Heather, you wrote a post not too long ago (sort of) about how we act and react toward other mothers. I think it’s refreshing to hear how we are all on a journey. We can then relate with and encourage each other!

    About 3 weeks ago I had a similar “mother of the year” incident. One where I ended up learning more than my son. It was a about a week after his 6th birthday and a few days before he was to start first grade in a ‘real” school. Since the birth of his brother in May we hadn’t had as much fun “Zane time” as we used to, so I grabbed the bowling pass we hadn’t used all summer and loaded the car. He was beyond excited and my heart was full! I made sure to bring some quarters to play in the arcade after what was sure to be a short bowling game. We don’t usually play in the arcade because I firmly believe it just sucks gobs of money out of our already tight wallets! But I knew how much HE liked playing in there so I planned ahead. We played our game, each scoring higher than we had before, and proceeded to the arcade.

    He was running around, excitement oozing from every pore in his little body. We played games together and laughed so much. When the quarters were spent I announced it was time to go. His baby brother was with us and had just woken up, ready to eat. My oldest then asked for one of those 25 cent toys out of the dispenser and I told him no, that we had spent all the money we brought. From what seemed like *nowhere* he BURST into tears. Sobbing loudly, “I just wanted a toy! I didn’t have any fun here and I didn’t get much for my birthday.” Instead of just taking a breath and calmly going home waiting for him to quiet down so we could talk, I lost it! I was so hurt by his words. I knew he wasn’t really feeling this way. I knew he was just disappointed and wanted what was right in front of him, but I allowed myself to react selfishly. “Don’t you know how much I spent on your birthday”, “don’t you have so many toys you can’t find a place for them”, “why aren’t you appreciative of what you have- you always seems to want more ” and similar phrases can spewing out of my mouth. I told him I was hurt by his words (which I still think is fine to say) and by the end of my “rant” both of us were in tears. He apologized and wanted to make it better. “We can come back tomorrow, mommy, and I will be good and we will be happy.”
    Wow. I really must have made him feel terrible!! As we both calmed down and talked more rationally I realized something… I do the same thing all the time. How many times do I say, “God, I just really want those shoes (or car, or purse, or whatever). I don’t have as much as _____.” Where’s my appreciation? Don’t I have too much stuff and not enough room to fit it? Don’t I know what God’s done for me? Gracious. I needed to hear the rant. I needed to be in tears.

    I stopped my son immediately and shared this revelation. “You know what? I do this same thing, too. And God is long suffering and gives me grace.” I apologized to him and asked him to forgive me. I told him I would be working on this issue and would help him, too. I know he appreciated hearing how I was still learning and growing.

    Those were some growing pains, though!

    • Heather says:

      Alison – This helped me so much! Katie often pronounces doom on a day I have spent a lot of effort on because something small doesn’t go her way. Her phrase is “this is not a fun day” even though I think she really means “moment” She three, so who knows? But it still hurts! Love that you shared not only how you REALLY felt but how you put into perspective, too. Definitely learned something here that I will be using in our home <3

    • Misty aka Elvisgirl says:

      You’re response reminds me of the book, One Thousand Gifts. The author, Ann Voskamp, says that even Eve’s sin was born of being ungrateful. I was blessed by reading both your story & Heather’s. Thanks!

  11. Emily Brown says:

    love this Heather (as I do every. single. thing. you. write. about.)! :) So wish we weren’t 1000 miles apart….I’d love to know you in “real life”. :)

  12. Misty aka Elvisgirl says:

    That was such lovely story. I nearly cried. I saw in reading the other responses, some did. Thanks for being real and sharing the hard stuff.

  13. Rachel J. says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. I have to say that I had a little laugh right there in the middle. “She learned it from watching you, Heather.” prompted a flashback to the anti-drug PSA where the dad finds his son’s stash and asks where he learned to use that stuff. Just in case I’m way older than I realize and you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s a link to the commercial.

  14. Margo says:

    This was such a sweet, wonderful post and a great lesson to share. My little miss isn’t old enough to have these moments yet but I know they’ll come and when they do I hope I can remember perspective and grace!

  15. Vanessa Stegner says:

    There are nights my head hits the pillow and I wonder if all I did was RE-ACT to things today rather than Respond…This post got me…lumpinthethroat and all. I have to CONSTANTLY remind myself “seek first to understand then to be understood”. Thank God for grace and that I get reminders like this post to help me along the journey. Thank you for transperancy :)

    • Heather says:

      Thank you, Vanessa. It’s so funny to think could encourage you when every time we get together it is the other way around!

  16. Vanessa Stegner says:

    *transparency* I couldn’t leave it incorrect! <3

  17. barbara says:

    Heather, this is soooo touching. I loved it! and the photos are priceless. I love you and the awesome way you share yourself with others. I’m proud to be your Mom!

  18. Jess says:

    This really allowed me to hear God’s voice this morning, in the midst of my own very loud mental chatter. You are such a beautiful person and writer. Thanks!

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