“Mary Eleanor” 4×4, oil on canvas $50.00 Buy Now

I write this knowing but also hoping I’m not the only parent who repeatedly compares myself to other parents. Last year, my college roommates and I (now scattered in different cities) decided that we were doing a woefully inadequate job keeping up with one another. So we began weekly email updates. One my dear friends has a son my son’s age. And when she tells me he plays (and loves) soccer and didn’t even cry when he got the dreaded four-year-old routine vaccination shots, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Am I doing something wrong?” I tried soccer with Ezra, and I wish I’d decided to get a root canal or wait in line at the DMV instead. He just wasn’t interested in paying attention for an hour. I spent most of “soccer” cajoling him back onto the field or yelling at him to stop tackling the other kids. And don’t even get me started about the doctor’s office. 

Sometimes I struggle to remember that not only are kids different with unique perspectives, needs, and talents, but so are parents. The worst thing we can do is assume there is one end-all-be-all strategy that can handle any kid in any situation. I noticed this when Ezra was a baby. Sleep training saved my life, and I found myself proselytizing the masses on its inherent goodness. But it was one of many solutions. It was the one that worked for me.

Mary Eleanor wrote to me about the time she did something different than the parents around her. Some little thing that she believes paid off big in the end. Here’s what she wrote:

We live in Baton Rouge and my daughters were NOT allowed to cross the Mississippi bridge when they were in high school. One time, my youngest and a bunch of her friends did cross the bridge and thought we wouldn’t find out.  Of course, I found out about it along with the other moms and my daughter was the ONLY one to get punished. And, of course, I heard all the drama of her being the only one punished etc., etc., but I stuck to my guns and stood my ground (it’s hard sometimes). Both my girls turned out to be very responsible.

Today’s little cardinal is quite little. He’s only four inches by four inches on a one and half inch canvas. It’s a tribute to the little decisions we make, the little ways we stand our ground, regardless of what other’s might be doing.

Ezra and I love finding cardinals– that flash of red against the green of the trees in our neighborhood. When we talk about birds, I remember that he and I are a unique family. And while I love the advice and support I get from other parents, I know not all of it will work for us. A lot of families have cats or dogs, but us? We’re bird people.

I am DEFINITELY still taking your stories of bravery. Please E-mail me at [email protected]. Can’t wait to hear from you.


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