Wednesday, October 01, 2014

CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: ‘Silly Mommy’ beats mean mother every day

By AMY NEWMARK, Chicken Soup for the Soul | 4/18/2014

Mark Twain wrote, “Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.” He must have been talking about the behavior of unruly children. Whenever my young kids had a screaming match, I would tell them they were welcome to continue on one condition: They had to stand on the furniture as they yelled at each other. The scene was so ridiculous that they would immediately start laughing, and the fight would be over.

Anastacia Grenda wrote about a similar tactic in her story “Silly Mommy to the Rescue,” published in our book for multitasking moms. Mornings in the Grenda household were always a trial. Anastacia’s son never wanted to get dressed; her daughter preferred to dance around the table instead of finishing breakfast. Anastacia, who had to get the kids to school on time and then get herself to work, sometimes lost her temper and snapped. “You can be very mean sometimes,” her 8-year-old son told her after one outburst.

Mark Twain wrote, “Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.” He must have been talking about the behavior of unruly children. Whenever my young kids had a screaming match, I would tell them they were welcome to continue on one condition: They had to stand on the furniture as they yelled at each other. The scene was so ridiculous that they would immediately start laughing, and the fight would be over.

Anastacia Grenda wrote about a similar tactic in her story “Silly Mommy to the Rescue,” published in our book for multitasking moms. Mornings in the Grenda household were always a trial. Anastacia’s son never wanted to get dressed; her daughter preferred to dance around the table instead of finishing breakfast. Anastacia, who had to get the kids to school on time and then get herself to work, sometimes lost her temper and snapped. “You can be very mean sometimes,” her 8-year-old son told her after one outburst.

One morning, Anastacia’s daughter was watching “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.” No one was ready for school, the clock was ticking, and Anastacia could feel her blood pressure rising. “Mary, please eat,” she said to her daughter. Then, perhaps because she was sleep-deprived, she made the bizarre choice to start speaking in the drawling voice of a Clarabelle Cow from the TV show playing in the background. “Or else I’m going to eat your breakfast with Minnie and Daisy,” she said. The kids burst out laughing and asked her to say more.

“Go up and get dressed for school. And don’t pull a Donald Duck and forget your pants,” she continued. The kids were in hysterics. “You’re silly, Mommy,” Mary said. And then, amazingly, she and her brother did exactly as they’d been told.

“Since then, I regularly call on Silly Mommy,” Anastacia wrote. “I’ve added more crazy voices, Jack and I have raced around the house, and I’ve spun Mary around while we pretended she was on a ride.” Mornings are fun now. It turns out that “Silly Mommy” is a lot better at getting ready for the day than “Mean Mom.”

•••

There’s a difference between being positive and ignoring reality. Kathleen Shoop explained this difference and how it changed her outlook on her multiple sclerosis diagnosis in her story “I Feel Like Crap Today,” published in one of our books on positive thinking.

As soon as Kathleen got her diagnosis, it seemed like all she ever heard was success stories about others living with MS. “You’d never even know he had it,” her brother said about a friend. “He is really doing great.”

Kathleen knew what MS was about — the struggle to carry her toddlers, the numbness followed by extreme sensitivity. There was nothing great about it. Kathleen didn’t want to be happy with MS: “I wanted to live my life as I had for three decades.”

One day in a meeting, her neurologist told her that the best thing she could do for herself was get a lot of rest.

“I think I cackled,” Kathleen wrote in her story. Then she went on to explain to the doctor, “in excruciating detail,” why extensive rest wouldn’t be possible: anxiety, severe limb discomfort, two young children.

When she finished, she expected the doctor to try to cheer her up with “stories of others living grand lives with MS.” Instead he said: “This really stinks. Your life has been completely upended, and I can’t pretend to know how awful that is.”

He was right. Having MS was horrible. And hearing the doctor say that freed Kathleen from feeling like she had to pretend that it wasn’t.

From then on, she didn’t hide the way she felt from herself or anyone else. When someone asked her how she felt, she sometimes answered, “I feel like crap.” But then she would add: “But I’m good. We went to the grocery store and played at home, and that is a good day.”

She found that “being a positive person isn’t shaped by the words that come from a person’s mouth, but how they approach their life,” and that being optimistic in the face of a bad situation requires you “to expose the awfulness of it so that you can truly rise above it.”

Syndicated by Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, online at www.chickensoup.com

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