2.14.2011

Free at Last

flowering quince

My husband has always amazed me with his ability to not give a damn what other people think. With such conviction and ease he says, "It's none of my business what other people think."

I've been praying for years to be more like him (while keeping my girlish figure and lack of prominent facial hair, of course). Finally my prayer was answered - in the most unexpected way.

Yesterday afternoon, standing on my neighbor's porch, a mom from our neighborhood raged in my face, with eyes bulging and finger wagging, accusing my husband and me of all sorts of bad parenting, calling my son mean and hurtful names, and peppering her tirade with all sorts of choice expletives. I stood there silently, my head tilted to one side, as I was verbally assaulted. When she finally stormed off, banging the screen behind her, I turned around and walked home. And then I smiled. I couldn't stop smiling.

For you see, while she flung all sorts of poisonous venom my way, I found within myself the antidote: I didn't care what she thought. Her stinging words missed their target for I knew with certainty that her words were false, based on misinformation, and that what she thought about me and my family was absolutely none of my business. Not my issues, not my baggage. She owned everything that came out of her mouth.

Her accusations should have traveled down the well worn path to my inner self doubt, fueling my feelings of uncertainty and fear of inadequacy. I should have started crying and grasping for insults to hurl back at her. But instead I found a new path, straight to self confidence and assuredness. I was finally FREE! I've never felt so liberated!

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.

IMG_4345

It's not the first time I've been insulted as a parent, and it probably won't be the last. Such insults are expected when you choose to parent differently from your neighbors. It's challenging to parent in the midst of other parents. But I can finally say, with conviction, that what other people think about my parenting is none of my business, and furthermore, how I parent is none of their business.

I will admit, being yelled at with so much vehemence shook me up a bit. No one has ever raged at me like that before; I don't know that I've ever evoked that much emotion in anyone. I woke up today with a feeling that something is not quite right. It's as though there has been a toxic spill in my neighborhood and we're experiencing environmental fall out. But as my dad said last night via Skype, "This too shall pass."

A few more words of wisdom guiding me today are:

"Opinions are like feet: everybody has them and some of them stink." ~ My grandma

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." ~ Eleanor Roosevelt (one of my mom's favorite quotes)

"There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it hardly becomes any of us to talk about the rest of us." ~ G. W. Cooke

"Share your strengths, not your weaknesses." ~ My Yogi tea bag this morning

My neighbor has given me a gift she didn't mean to give me. Perhaps I should send her a thank you card (yes, I'm being sarcastic; my husband jokingly suggested a restraining order) , but instead, I'll just smile and wave the next time our paths cross. I like this new unflappable me. Thanks for letting me get it off my chest (not that you had a choice, but all the same, thanks for reading).

58 comments:

  1. What a great attitude.
    I look forward to the time that I can feel that easy.

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  2. Good for you - I think you handled it perfectly...Peace be with you...

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  3. awesome and AMEN :-)

    gorgeous pics, too, btw...

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  4. I think you may be my hero.

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  5. Molly good for you for handling it with such grace!! I got stressed and anxious just listening to you describe that woman. It is terrible how sensitive we can be to what others think when so much of it is about their own garbage. From what I read, you most be a most amazing mother. Thanks for a reminder of how important it is to stand firmly in our own shoes and feel good in them.

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  6. good for you!! i have had to deal with this sort of confrontation from my own father. he now chooses not to speak to us at all....for almost two years. i am SO grateful that i choose to parent differently than him (for obvious reasons) but it was obviously more than he could handle.

    i love your grandmother's quote. ;)

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  7. I think I love your Grandma.

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  8. I always read your blog, but I'm too shy to comment. This time I can't help it: this post is wonderful, I loved reading it. Thank you.

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  9. The mom from your neighborhood must be overwhelmed by insecurity and fear to feel the need to release such hatred in your direction. It's a pity really because your brilliant reaction no doubt made her feel even worse. She's doing it all wrong.... and knows it.

    She needs to go soak her head.

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  10. An arguement takes two participants. By choosing not to engage you took the wind out of her sails and having no one to argue with probably irritated her more than anything you could have said. By my count, not only did you win, but you are untouchable. Bully for you!

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  11. Oh my - what a horrible thing to experience. Sounds like you handled it with grace although you were right to be shook up. I love that Eleanor Roosevelt quote. I once used it on a women's studies paper in college and the professor didn't like it. But it's a good one to live by. That neighbor is carrying a lot more burdens than you today.

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  12. Congratulations on handling such a graceless situation with such utter and beautiful grace. Thanks for the reminder to keep to my own path and my own business :)

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  13. That is a great feeling! I remember having a huge revelation when I read the book The Four Agreements years ago. All of a sudden I ceased to worry about what anyone thought of me ... they don't know me. And in return, I don't assume anything about anyone. Very, very freeing. You don't know why that woman acted so horribly. Maybe her Mom has cancer or her children are in trouble. Maybe she is just one of those people that enjoy conflict because something was missing in their childhood. You just don't know what issues are in people's lives ... and they don't know what is in yours.

    Glad you could make a positive step from such an uncomfortable experience.

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  14. Dear Molly,
    I haven't been reading your blog for very long (thank goodness I found you), but it is my firm belief that you are raising your children with care, love and wisdom. Your words always reflect a woman who is genuinely thoughtful and respectful. I am sorry that this happened. Your incredible grace under such vitriol is something that I admire.
    I had a similar situation happen to me years ago and I wish that I had handled it as well as you.
    Cheers to you and I am going to write your husband's wise words on my forehead.
    Best to you, Ellen.

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  15. absolutely stunning photos! I'm glad you came away from that ugly situation a better person. That's great!

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  16. What is wrong with people these days, that they feel free to yell at another parent? It is not a change in manners for the better.

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  17. Good for you! thanks for sharing your experience and strength.

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  18. i love your subtle sense of humor. all those quotes from such lauded sources and then... "my yogi... tea bag this morning." don't get me wrong. i, too, appreciate the timing and relevance of their powerful little messages.

    also, i can't help but wonder... wow. what did you do? ;)

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  19. "kill 'em with kindness" is what my best friend says. ironically it's what's best for us too.

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  20. you rock!
    and I sure feel sorry for your neighbor's family--I mean it. who would want to live with that?
    Through your grace may be all learn and important lesson.

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  21. Thank you for sharing this. It was a good reminder for me about what a burden it is to try and please everyone. I really appreciate your honest, heart-felt words.

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  22. I had this same experience a year ago, except it's my next door neighbor and he is a big, volatile, scary, unstable man. I certainly had the feelings you expressed of not worrying too much about how he feels, or what kind of person he thinks I am (pretty awful). But we are stuck with this loose cannon. Boo.
    But yay for self confidence, and knowing who you are, no matter what others tell you that you are.

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  23. Good for you! Such strength and courage to not fall back into old patterns, but to create a new path. The possibilities are endless. That woman must be in a lot of pain. How lovely that you gave witness to it and didn't take it personally. Great practice for the teen years. Blessings - Melissa

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  24. I have never had someone come right out at me like that over anything, I can only imagine how it must feel when what she was so angry about was something so incredibly personal as your parenting choices.

    I have known the feeling of rocking my extremely sensitive and very different little boy on my lap at the back of story time while he wails uncontrollably and having the other mothers look at me like what is wrong with him, what is wrong with YOU? Doing things differently, and/or having a child that is different makes people so uncomfortable.

    Sending you prayers of strength for the next time you see this neighbor.

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  25. good for you!

    about a week ago i was given a parenting lecture by another mother. at first i was taken aback but ultimately i just blew it off. i really don't have time to worry about what other mothers think of me.

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  26. It is always a relief to overcome something with which one has struggled inwardly for years. I hope you celebrated this small triumph.

    Thank you also for the beautiful brilliant flowers. It is so drab and dreary where we are and everyone is quite sick of grey and brown. I am truly convinced that if it snowed here, it wouldn't be so depressing but nope, it just rains endlessly. February is the worst.

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  27. I am so happy to know you, Molly. You rock! One day, we will meet face to face :)

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  28. Kudos to you, Molly! And I love your grandma's quote.

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  29. Wooo Hooo! What an amazing feeling. You are right about parenting outside the norm. I forget sometimes that we live outside mainstream when I surround myself with like-minded folks and read blogs that support my views. It is wonderful to feel good and comfortable in your skin despite what others say. BRAVO.

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  30. Hug, and a high five!

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  31. wow, well done! it is really hard not to shout back when someone is yelling at you or defend yourself when you are being attacked. A crazy neighbour did something similar to me recently and I nearly managed to hold back from saying anything in return but not quite. Encounters like that leave me feeling funny just above my knees, like the fight or flight adrenalin has pooled there. I hope I can be more like you next time, its such a better way to be.
    And there's no need to feel bad for sinking to their level.
    Plus as Don Miguel Ruiz says in The Four Agreements - "NOTHING PEOPLE DO IS BECAUSE OF YOU!! IT'S BECAUSE OF THEMSELVES!!"

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  32. I've just discovered your beautiful blog and just had to read through the first page of posts. Your blossom pix are exquisite - I don't know what type they are as I live in the hot, winter rainfall, Western Cape of South Africa and can't grow these sort of shrubs in my garden. With regard to your dreadful neighbour I'm beyond impressed that you were able to hear her out with such equanimity - I can only aspire to this reaction!

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  33. All will be well. all manner of things shall be well. (Julian of Norwich)

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  34. Molly, you rock. I love Marianne's Julian of Norwich quote above- it's true. Do what you know to be right and all will be well.
    and you KNOW when you smile and wave she'll be seething inside. Sometimes peace and happiness are the best revenge.

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  35. Wow. That IS awful and freeing all at the same time. To carry peace in your heart surely gives you strength to walk away from something like that.

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  36. Thank you so much for sharing this.

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  37. Oh... Molly! I know how it feels to have someone come at you like that. Unfortunatly for me it was a family member and it was all about HIS parenting choices... not mine.
    Way to rise above and grow from the experience.

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  38. Wow, I felt anxious reading about her behavior too. All I can add is that such anger is usually the result of sadness or fear... and lots of unmet needs. Maybe she's kicking herself for her reaction (or maybe she just should be!). Lovely photos.

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  39. b r a v o my dear friend b r a v o.

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  40. good for you, Molly! I'm sure that was an awesome feeling, I know it's one that I'm working on!!

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  41. my yogi tea bags have been spot on recently too!

    you go molly.

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  42. I had a experience like that at school 5 years ago - I didn't argue back but out of shock rather than strength...it still plays on my mind from time to time. Thanks for showing me how liberating it is to not care...something I will carry on working on myself!

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  43. i can only imagine how wonderful that felt. good for you, molly!

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  44. Oh, Molly. how strong you are. what a wonderful example for us to follow.

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  45. Oh, that is something I struggle with for sure-someday I might be a bit more like you! I'm celebrating with you!

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  46. Hoorah. Poison is best avoided, indeed.

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  47. I missed this post until just now because you posted twice on Monday. It must feel great to let such vitriol blow right past you! Anyone who lets loose so unfairly like that is surely not someone to worry about--but still it takes so much strength and grace to remain unfazed.

    I had a minor situation come up earlier this week that was hard to shake. Much as I like to think that I don't care what people think of me, I do! But I'm going to think of you and Eleanor Roosevelt and just let that issue go...

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  48. Whoa. way to go, Molly. It amazes me that someone would let 'er rip on someone else about parenting styles.That's meant to cut deep, but when you've decided it's not you business what they think, well then, it's no sweat. I have never had someone scream at me like that and I'm not sure what I would actually do, but I hope it is something similar to your realization. Your grandmother is one cool lady.

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  49. i'm sending you a virtual chest-bump - you know the kind that athletes do when someone makes a brilliant play or scores the winning touchdown!! that you could experience such freedom in the middle of such an in your face attack is awesome, well played molly!!

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  50. I'm just reading this now…a few days late. How inspiring. I think its difficult for many people to know worry, think or wonder what other think of them. For you to have the strength to just walk away, words unsaid it so amazing to me. Fantastic!

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  51. Molly,
    I read your post a few days ago and it has been on my mind ever since. I wanted to think of something comforting, inspirational, thoughtful to say but, I am dumbfounded. I feel sad for the mother whom approached you, then I feel angry for her trying to make you feel bad; however, I do not know the circumstances. But it just seems so sad that a conflict is probably trying to be resolved and she just doesn't have the skills to make it happen. I agree with George 100%. Good for you. You never know, maybe you two ladies will make amends; I wonder if she just feels sick to her stomach for such actions.? There is probably more going on than she let's on....
    You rock Molly!
    Oxox

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  52. I have never posted on your blog before but I am a regular reader.
    My father-in-law has a saying that is a lot like your grandmothers (though a bit more, umm shall we say sassy?) "Opinions are like ass holes they all stink but your own." Makes me giggle every time I hear him say it.
    It's a wonderful freedom to be confident in oneself.
    Best, L

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  53. proud of you - very much so

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  54. Well done! Enjoy your new-found strength :-)

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  55. AMAZING. i am so ready for the day when i will feel similarly. these bright beautiful quince photos totally fit the freedom and levity you must have realized. astounding that someone could be so very rude and aggressive.

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  56. How great ! I wish I could stand like you just for a moment in my life. Luckily occasions like you lived through don't happen often.

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  57. i am going to kick her ASS on thursday. & you can pay me back by helping me with my heart contraption. those are. oh. there is nothing i can say about them. i'm just gonna copy you.

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