Seeing Yourself through Others

One day I told my momspiration (the mom friend I hold in high esteem as a parenting example) — we’ll call her W — that I often examine parenting challenges and think to myself: “What would W do?” She was floored. She knew I considered her my momspiration, but she wasn’t aware how highly I thought of her parenting habits. She humbly responded, “But I…” and rattled off reasons why I shouldn’t consider her so exemplary. “You’re a great mom,”I told her. I was surprised she was surprised; I figured she must know she’s a remarkable parent because it was so obvious to me.

Today, I arrived at a playdate with a friend I hadn’t seen in years. I was one kid short (#1 was in preschool). Watching me walk over — #2 holding my hand, #3 strapped to my chest, and the picnic lunch over my shoulder — my friend warmly greeted me: “You are a professional mom!” I thanked her and laughed off the compliment, thinking how I’m just type-A and plan everything. I didn’t consider myself in anyway above the fray.

Each time I nursed #3 in the carrier during the playdate, my friend sweetly noted that she was “in awe” of my nursing on the go. It was so flattering and unexpected, as I never think anything of nursing in public. I do it at least four times daily. I never thought of my routine as admirable.

I drove home from the lovely playdate thinking how often we move about our routines — blinded by our rattling to-do lists and inner monologs — completely unaware of the admiration or flattering perceptions we stir in others. The world is filled with secret admirers.

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