1.13.2009

What other people think of you is none of your business.

A very important thing for me to remember. You see, I care. A lot. To the point of obsessing over it. Then I calm down and go about my busy life, but once things slow down and the thought process invades my mind once again, I start this ring of rationalizing and thinking how I was perceived, and what I could have re-worded to sound better, smarter, kinder.

"People are like fun house mirrors, they reflect a distorted image back at you. Sometimes they are flattering, other times they are not. But ultimately, their observations have more to do with their own insecurities than you. We all tend to take other peoples perceptions of us way too seriously. There are always going to be people who think you could be dating a different guy, dressing better, or following a different career path. Maybe their right, maybe their wrong. Who cares? This month, decide that while you'll listen to what others have to say, you'll focus on what you want. That is, after all, what's most important."
~ An excerpt form Shape magazine written by Jared Matthew Weiss, a life stylist.
I read that this month and there was a click, and I thought, yeah, that's what I can do to stop this madness. But then, can I really undo a lifetime of this thought process in a month. I realized it will take a new way of thinking and lots of discipline to fix this obsession with what other people think of me, but one that has to be done. After all, I have 4 children who at one point or another, despite my best efforts to keep it in when their around, will be exposed to these insecurities. My favorite place to talk with my husband is in our packed full of kids mini-van. Honestly....it the only place my kids are all tucked securely into their car seats, not allowing them to dart somewhere that I have to run off to to keep them out of mischief, thus losing my train of thought every nano second. Of course there are interruptions to tattle and requests for the book on tape to be changed or turned up, but I can sit in one spot and unleash my emotions to a listening ear and get it all out. Every now and again, one of the kids will say, "why are you mad at so-and-so mom? And I downplay it best I can and usually just say they made me sad. Because it does make me sad when people say things insinuating I'm a certain type of person when they've gotten the wrong impression and then I wonder what gave them that impression, or think maybe I am that person they think I am.
I think like most mom's, my biggest area of insecurity is my parenting. What if I'm doing it all wrong? If I dress my kids.... shirt, pants, underwear, socks, shoes, hat, gloves, coat, scarf.... and before we get to where we're going on of those items disappears into thin air off any one of my 4 kids, I worry people will think we don't have those items or we didn't have those items clean and were fine for our kids to go without. If they get dirty before we arrive, or once we arrive I notice a stain that I hadn't noticed before we left again I worry that people will think we don't do laundry around here (we do A LOT of laundry, and for the record never start out with dirty clothes on the kids) or that all we can afford is stained clothing, rather than whet they probably think...kids don't stay clean no matter how anal their mom is about it. My husband thinks I'm insane when I get like this. Like, who cares if the baby's in a blue outfit and has a green pacifier? People aren't going to care for one thing, but do you really think they'll know we had a blue one and still grabbed the green one? Again, most people don't care if their kids nuk matches, so they sure aren't going to care if my kids nuk matches.
If you want to kick me where it counts, suggest...insinuate...hint at....verbalize...shout out, your observation of my bad parenting skills. Nothing scares me more than to be perceived as the bad mom. Nothing makes me worry more than that my kids will think I was a bad mom all those years from now when they tell their spouses about their childhood. Nothing makes me cry harder or longer than when people say things to suggest I'm intentionally doing something that's just convenient for me and not the best for my kids. No matter what notion you have in your head about my intentions on anything pertaining to my kids, I have the best interest of my kids at the forefront of my head all the time. No matter what you think. I would sacrifice for any of them in an instant. I love them more than life itself, and I would never do anything or not do anything knowing it was better for me, but not for them. I do what I think is best for my kids all the time barring nothing no matter what. I'm not saying I don't make mistakes or that I don't look back sometimes and think I should have done something different, but I intend to do what's best fro them all the time.
So the question of the day is if I know I am doing what I think is best for my kids no matter what, then why do I care if you get the wrong impression? That's just how I'm wired, that's why. I can blog about my family life and if I leave one detail out, or assume people remember certain things just because I've blogged about them before, and don't mention it again, then they can get the wrong idea about why I do certain things the way I do them, but it rally doesn't matter because I know I did what needed to be done to keep them safe and who really cares if so-and-so didn't get that? My closest friends and family will know the circumstances and they know me and my intensity when it comes to my kids and they get it. I love them, I do the best I can for them, I would never do anything intentional to hurt them or scar them, end of story.
(I realized what a run-on this sentence is when I proof read, but I left it to give you an idea of how the thoughts flow through my brain. Never really a period at the end of the sentence, it goes on and on and on.)
So then we go from the topic of my parenting skills and on to my wardrobe. Or my zit. Or then fact that this Sunday, I wore a brown skirt that matched my tank top, with a black shirt that matched my tights. They really didn't match each other, but I was tearing around trying to make my kids cute and didn't have time to do my normal 8 outfit rotation. All day I commented to people, "just so you know...I know that this doesn't really go, but I was in a hurry and couldn't get my whole outfit to work. Surprisingly, I went with this, it's so not like me do do things like this..." and on and on making excuses for an outfit that I got a lot of compliments on and people would say they thought it looked really nice, they hadn't noticed the absurdness of the outfit at all. I even had someone say I looked really pretty that day, they couldn't figure out what it was. I'm hard wired this way, and doubt the obsessing over what I wear will ever go away. But maybe the rationalizing it to other people and apologizing for my bad outfit could. There are lots of things I would never wear, but I don't fault other people for wearing them, so why should I care what you think of my outfit? I shouldn't, but I do. I worry about what everything thinks about every detail of my life, I'm not even exaggerating a little.
And I care what you think if my kids misbehave, and if you'll judge me if I admit to needing time away from them, and what you think of my house, my work, my blog. Additionally, I care about what you think about me breastfeeding in public, until what age, how long before my child is potty trained, how well they read, if they sometimes don't brush their teeth before bed, if they color all over their body time and time again. The list is endless.
So then someone makes a comment that insinuates something that wasn't the case, and I lose sleep thinking everyone got the wrong impression. What if? Will the world end if I made the "mistake" someone thinks I could have, although they weren't there so how could they possibly know?
It never rolls off my back, it always nestles itself into my heart, right where my insecurities lie, and no matter how much I say I don't care what SHE thinks anyway, I still can't shake the shame? Why am I ashamed about things that never actually happened, someone just nonchalantly slipped it in where everyone could hear that I may have done this that could have done that to my kids. If I know I did the best I could and everyone came out fine, then why do I care so much about the impression you got?
I especially love the part of the quote that says that other peoples observations have more to do with their insecurities than us. Because Jason tells me that. He says they just feel better about themselves when they make other people look bad. Or they don't know who I really am, and why do I care what they think? And that the people who know me, know me. They know my intention, regardless that someone got it all wrong.
Also, I loved that it says we tend to take other peoples perceptions of us way too seriously. First off, I love that word perception, because it's what people think they see, not necessarily what's actually there. But if he is writing this in a magazine that thousands of women read, it means I'm not alone in my insecurity.
So here starts the path of forgiving myself when others make a wrong diagnoses. Here's to not taking their perception and punishing myself as if that's how it went down, when I know better. Here's the time in my life when I stop wasting energy on worrying over other peoples opinions on my life and instead wrestle with my family on our living room carpet, because that's best for all of us.

21 comments:

Tim and Melissa said...

Relax Amber...you're a great mom! Who cares what everyone else thinks. I agree with Jason...

Ben, Heather & kids said...

Amber, This post is WONDEFUL! As a mom of 4 to another mom of 4... what you wrote, is what I feel so often. I haven't seen you in action as a Mom, but I have a very strong feeling you are WONDERFUL! People will always think what they want, but in the end it never will matter. They are your kids, your respondsiblity, your decisions! I'm working on not worrying about what others think, just its hard. My other blog is hard for me, because I have to open up.. but its slowly getting there!
The next time I get back 'home' we NEED to get together! :)
P.S. I'm glad theres another mom with 4 kids that I can relate too!
P.P.S You just made my day a little better.. thank you for that!

Heather said...

I hear ya...I used to care ALOT what other ppl thought of me...slowly(ever so SLOWLY) I am learning that it doesn't matter...it really doesn't. We're not all the same in what we like, what we don't like, etc, but we do all have an insecurity or 12...;0) So, I'm no longer afraid to say that I don't like cooking, I don't mind buying myself things when I know my kids have everything they need and I do need time away once in awhile to keep my sanity! If anybody things anyone is a bad mom or wife or person or whatever because of anything they do that's not in their own little list of perfection then that's their problem....not ours. We all have a different way of how things work for our own relationships, our own families...no two are the same. So, after all my rambling...here's a hug!;0) Oh yeah, and if I look like a dork when I go somewhere...more than likely it's because I had about 5 min to put myself together after putting everyone else together...it's one of the parts of being a mom, and I'm ok with that...;0)

Heather said...

oops, that's supposed to be *thinks....;0) can u tell i have 2 kids screaming in the background...i think tonight might be a good time to get away for an hour! care to join me?;0)

Amber said...

Heather 1: I actually read last week on your blog and did this post from that...because I have the same insecurities as you. I also am glad to have another mom of four to relate to, and would love to get together sometime.

Heather 2: Thanks for the hug, I kinda needed it this morning, when poor Archer is moaning and lethargic from the shots I consented to and seems to be feeling awful. That's a great point you make about the little list of perfection because everyone does have their own little list and we all expect people to fit into ours. One thing I'm not afraid to do is call it like it is, and I feel if you have to tell people how great you/your husband/your kids/your life/job whatever, then it can't be that great because if it's really there, you don't worry over whether people see it or not, because you know they'll see it on their own.

Amber said...

Heather....maybe. I'll talk to Jaosn, we don't have a lot going on, so maybe I can sneak away.

Neisha said...

i think every mom worries about what others think of her as a mom but parents aren't perfect so we know we aren't perfect and will make mistakes but our children will grow up to be great kids regardless.
from reading your blogs I've learned that you're a great mom who loves her kids very much!

Mindy said...

have you ever heard of Landmark Education? craig & i have done it. so have evan & shannon. it's awesome & really helps you with a new way of thinking. i used to worry so much about what i'd wear to mtg. & during landmark it just dawned on my that most sundays i had no idea what anyone else wore to mtg. & figured they didn't notice what i wore. everyone is too busy worrying about how others perceive them to actually be perceiving others. not sure if i'm getting my point across. anyway, check out the website.

Shannon said...

oh sweetie! i agree with mindy. i'm almost completely the opposite....i don't give a rats hinder what other people think of me. but i also think this makes me a bit insensitive and abrasive and a little too outspoken. my wardrobe would make you cry. i've been known to wear the same outfit 3 sundays in a row. and I DON'T CARE! i NEVER notice what other people are wearing. but that's just me. i'm sure you look fantastic at all times!

Mindy said...

we did the forum, the advanced course & the self expression & leadership program. i highly recommend all 3.

Shannon said...

this past sunday i put on the only clean shirt i had that was meeting-worthy and it had a stain on the chest...i told evan "oh well...i'm a mom. i'll just hold cole and everyone will just think he just spit up on me".

i knew i wore the wrong bra the moment we walked out the door but i didn't have time to go change it. we sit down in meeting, i bend over to put the diaper bag under the chair and my left boob popped out. not out of my shirt...just out of the bra. so i went to the bathroom to do the old tuck. good ol' nursing boobs.

feel better about yourself yet?!

Amber said...

Shannon: Thanks...that's funny! I wish I could get my old boobs back once this nursing thing is all over, but I sincerely doubt it. They were 2 cup sizes smaller and much firmer.

julesann said...

Hi Amber-I just read (most) of this--wow, that was a long one! :). It sounds like you sweat the small stuff. I know I do too. As far as what everyone else thinks: Hopefully we are looking at one another with love--seeing all the good things & overlooking anything else.

NanaK said...

Awwww.....Amber, you are a wonderful mommy....and I know it doesn't matter how many times you are told this, you need to believe it yourself! But.....what your kids are going to remember is that you were a WONDERFUL mommy to them...trust me. Ever since Elliot made you a mommy it has been evident that you LOVE LOVE LOVE your children! As far as what other people think...huh...who cares!!! Anyone who judges simply hasn't had enough 'experiences' in their life to help them empathise....and if they 'worry' over you telling your child 'no' for something they think you shouldn't, just remember, they have NO idea what preceded your answer (and this is just an example, not anything I have heard you say!! :) ) So....tho I didn't mean for this to be so long, please know that I think you are a great mommy!! And I have a hug for you as well as Heather! You young mommies are inspiring to us 'experienced' mommies....notice I didn't say 'old'!

Amber said...

Karen: I do think I'm a good Mom, but I let it get to me way to much when people say things to suggest otherwise. Thanks for the hug:0)

Lindsay said...

thanks for voicing all that- i agree, but could never say it because i don't have thick enough skin either... thanks SO much for sharing! and for the record, i too think you're a great mommy. once you have one kid, let alone four, there are things that no longer take top priority and anyone who doesn't understand that should spend a day in a mommy's shoes and see how it really is.

Shelley said...

I know where you are coming from... and I don't even have any children.

My observation... for what ever it is worth.
1. You love your kids.
2. Your kids love you.
3. People without kids are the most critical. They may one day say, I sure didn't know what I was talking about. I am one without kids of course, but my standard response when someone complains to me about another's child care - "It is not your responsibility so you did not see the whole picture."
4. Some helpful hints are not given to criticize you nor to say you are now required to follow this wonderful new advice. It is just that - a helpful hint that worked one time in one situation for one person. Now you are free to use it if you want to.
It is not criticism, it is just a comment of "I know what you are going through."
5. Yes you make mistakes. Everyone does. What is important is you keep trying and improving. But then a new test comes along, and you have to do what you think is best at the time.

Keep on keeping on. Smile! You are a hero to at least 4 people every day.

Alaina said...

Hey chica! Love and hugs. You're a great person, mother and friend. And I'm lucky to know you.

Ben, Kara, Taylor and Hailey said...

I completely understand. No matter how good of a mom your are, there are always those that are doing it differently and think their way is better. Sometimes people make comments or say things that weren't even directed towards you or meant to be mean but it seems that way. I'm slowly learning to let it roll off because those kinds of people aren't going anywhere. You are a great mom! P.s. I didn't notice the outfit on Sunday, sorry. I'm one of those moms too that spend most of the morning getting their children ready and 5 mins on myself and tend to focus on other people's children and how cute they are instead of the parents. sorry :)

Sam said...

your so right Amber, its none of our business what they think....

p.s. I wish I was half the mom you are...

Amber said...

Come on Sam, you're a great Mom. I'm not winning any awards over here...

Related Posts with Thumbnails
http://www.linkwithin.com/