The Big Picture

I was commiserating with a good friend the other day about our mutual bad habit of noticing our children's shortcomings, when we would so much rather be celebrating their great strengths. Perhaps it's the same instinct that drives us to always improve our environment - like the picture on the wall hanging crooked which we must set straight. Why do we have to see what is wrong rather than what is right? The picture, even crooked, is beautiful.

As a mother, I worry. I worry that my children spend too much time on the computer, too many hours at their friends playing video games, not enough time reading. They don't do chores, they fight too much, their rooms are messy. All they want to eat is sugar. How many days has it been since they bathed? So many worries, which sound a lot like complaints when I listen to myself. I'm an "accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative" kind of person, so why is it so hard for me to do this as a mother?

Well, today I found the silver lining. I was laying on the couch, not feeling so hot, fighting a sore throat, reading a book, and I looked over to see my kids playing together. They were getting along, sharing, chatting. Avery had an hour before she had to leave for gymnastics, and Aidan said, "Don't go to gym Avery. Stay home and play Legos with me!"

I could tell she was entertaining this idea.

the big picture

Not long after Avery left for gym, Aidan dumped his picnic basket full of Legos on the floor and said, "Look Mom, I'm rich in Legos!"

I looked past the mess and saw his wealth.


  1. So well written, I also struggle with focusing on the negative (in my own head) when what I really want to do is embrace the positive, the wonderful moments of their childhood, all the good things about them instead of just trying to deal with the bickering etc. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. yikes. I have had those same thoughts about my kids. thanks for sharing this. Oh, I am rich in legos too. or at least my son is.

  3. I feel like hugging you. I could have ghostwritten your first two paragraphs, and it's soooo comforting to know that another mom, especially a talented, creative one who strives to make home a place of beauty and artistic expressions, shares my struggles.

    Touché, my friend. Thank you for sharing this.

  4. you're a good mom. I needed that.

  5. I do the exact same thing. I do it to myself too and perhaps my kids are an extension of that. It is so easy to come up with the things they do that drives me crazy - when what I really want to/need to focus on is the things about them that I love.

  6. A great reminder! Thank you.

  7. This post is such a wonderful reminder that I really needed right now.

  8. Oh how I needed to hear this. I struggle with the same thing. I want what comes out of my mouth (to my children)--the positive /reassuring/loving words to outweigh the negative ones. Tomorrow is a new day with no mistake in it. Thank you. Good to know that I am not alone in this journey.

    PS Thank you for what you have done to make Craft Hope a reality. It's amazing and I am so glad I was able to be a part of it.

  9. thank you, thank you , thank you. :)

  10. What a great thought - it is true - even when I get together with my best friends we do this - I think there are great things we are doing as moms and we so easily forget that.

  11. When I started reading this post, I thought, "she's writing about my kids and me!" Sigh. Thank you for this.

  12. Why is it that the negative jumps out at us and we have to really look for the positive? I don't know, but thank you for reminding us to be looking for those positive moments. I think if we consciously look for them we will find more than we ever thought were there.

  13. Dear Molly...

    I only wish I would have read this this morning before I sent my kids off to meet the bus. Sigh. Maybe they'll still have a good day despite it's beginning.

    Thanks for kicking me in the butt. I needed it.


  14. I have learned through childcare training classes that the brain soaks up and absorbs the negative more so than the positive, so you have to create more possitive memories to shut out all the trash. It isn't easy, since negative thoughts and experiences like to replay like bad movies on TBS. (Over and over and yikes! over again.)

    Since I had to wait a long time before having kids (7 years married), I had a lot of time to think about it. I realized that I could spend my time worrying, or doing. I chose doing. This allowed me the freedom to celebrate the accomplishments and the joys of life, instead of bogging down on the should'as. Free yourself. It's never too late.

    My kids aren't perfect. They watch TV and computer too often, too long. They bicker and posture, but when their Dad was diagnosed with cancer, they stepped up to the plate. They've taken care of the household and each other when I needed to take care of their Dad. They've learned to do instead of worry, and they have grown immensely. And like I've come to realize, a school grade doesn't tell the whole story.

    You are rich in so many ways that don't involve a Bank. Just remember that.

  15. Lovely and so true. Thank you!

  16. I hear ya. I've gone to writing myself notes on the mirror in my bathroom to remind myself to overlook certain things. Right now it says,
    1-Hug my children
    2-Do not yell
    3-walk away and regroup
    Sounds funny, but it works. The kids also ask what they mean which gives me a reason to explain them and makes me accountable. It's a work in progress...

  17. By looking at the other comments, I think that it is obvious that many of us fight the same battle daily. It is so easy to get frustrated with the little things, and miss the big picture. I think you guys will agree that the same thing can be said for our spouses - right? We love them completely, but sometimes get wrapped up in the negative. Thanks for putting into words what we all feel as well!

  18. That is so cool!

    Hope you are feeling better soon.

  19. Wonderfully written. A much needed reminder for all of us who share this same struggle. Every evening my husband and I look at each other and say "Tomorrow is a new day."

  20. Ah yes, it's easy to do eh? Hope you are feeling better, sore throats are the worst.


  21. Oh good. I'm not the only one guily of this! whew. But like me, I have a feeling you also spend a whole lot of time thinking "they are soooo great(cute, smart, creative, kind, funny etc...)!"
    Love that photo, btw.
    If only legos could be cashed in...

  22. I just found your blog. I can't wait to read more.

    Rich in Legos? I love it!

  23. Great post. Really great. Yesterday I came across a great quote by another blogger:
    "Don't compare your kids to anyone else's in a negative or positive way. Either way you are breaking them down or feeling superior and neither one of those are good. Love your kids exactly for who they are."
    Now, of course, I cannot recall where I read this, but it did impact me. Sometimes I think of where one child was at a particular age or stage, and where they actually are. I am trying to stop that since I see it as counter-productive.
    Thanks for this post.

  24. Very cool. Even the comments are great. :) we have one child who is four, and i find it just as difficult to "find the silver lining" in him without a sibling to fight with, or want to stay home for. It's so important to focus on the good stuff, but so easy for me to worry, complain, and want something else...more. i try to remind myself that this could be the MORE and more would cause it to be less.

    i love the photo and the "rich in legos" quote too.
    thank you. :)

  25. I think those same thoughts A LOT. I'm thinking we all have to have those "off" times, either worrying or squwabbling to get to and resonate with thise "right on" times. It's tough though, as a mom, I worry and struggle to make sure everyone gets the best. In the end, it's all good! Thanks for leading me back to here!!


  26. as much as we worry and doubt ourselves and kick ourselves in the pants for the little moments when we fail, they never seem to amaze us when they catch us unaware.

  27. "All they want to eat is sugar. How many days has it been since they bathed?"

    Oh, ME TOO!!!

    Thanks for the perspective- and the giggle....and the knowledge that none of us is alone in this fabulous journey of motherhood.


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