Gifts for Dad ➔

Our dinner table can often be loud and messy, and eating out is risky business. But this particular meal in a small town restaurant was one for the books. We had stopped to take a break from our four-hour road trip with three kids under six. We had spent the weekend at the beach, and everyone in our car was overtired and on edge. So we weren’t too surprised when our quick trip to a restaurant with our tired crew went south within moments of entering the front door. 

Before we reached our table, our oldest was in tears. He heard “biscuit” when we ordered “brisket” and upon finding out no biscuits would be served, he decided we had crushed his lifelong dreams of biscuit eating. As one stopped crying, another one started because he had changed his mind, and now wanted chicken instead of grilled cheese. Meanwhile, the baby refused to eat because he wanted whole chicken strips, not cut. 

You get the picture. 

So when a man approached our table, I held my breath, bracing myself for what was to come next. Surely, he was about to pass along some unsolicited and judgmental advice about how we could be doing better. 

But what came next shocked me. 

He actually complimented our three boys on their manners. We genuinely thanked this man but, after he walked away, my husband and I looked at each other completely confused. We were shocked. Moments earlier, two-thirds of our children were in tears, and I felt far from earning a gold star for our parenting skills. So what did he see in us that sparked his desire to pay a table full of strangers a compliment? What did he see in us that I couldn’t see myself? 

What I saw at our table was a tired team of parents just trying to scarf down a quick bite while keeping our three kids quiet enough to not disturb the tables around us. Did he see the tears burning in the back of my eyes? Did he see my shoulders sagging in defeat by my tiny crew? Did he pity us or did he simply look past the chaos of our table and see the good in us? 

I’d like to believe he saw us trying to address the issues at our table with grace. I’d like to think he saw past the fits my kids were throwing, and saw the potential of their sweet, kind hearts.

I doubt this sweet, gray-haired, man knew the impact his words had on me that day. He made me smile, when I honestly wanted to cry. When I felt we were failing, someone else saw us thriving. 

Now that’s perspective! 

No child is perfect 100 percent of the time. No parent is either. That doesn’t mean we’re failing. There is value in the effort teaching, and also value in learning from our mistakes. Teaching manners involves lots mistakes at the table. 

What took him less than 30 seconds to convey, filled our hearts with so much joy and changed the entire mood of our table. Our kids heard the compliment, and immediately rose to the occasion. He saw the good in them. And in us. He saw two tired parents continuing to teach manners even though we were exhausted, and he saluted us for it. He offered grace, when we had none to give to ourselves. 

So to the man who stopped to say, “Good job, Mom and Dad! Your boys are so well-behaved.” 

Thank you! 

From the bottom of this tired mama’s heart. Because although you may not remember us, we sure remember you. And on my hard days in the trenches of motherhood, I still remember your sweet face and your kind words, prompting me to keep up the hard work because it does, indeed, pay off. 

Parents who are trying DO stand out. 

Even when we feel like we’re failing. 

Michelle Tate

A native Texan, born and raised, I married my college sweetheart, and now spend my days raising our three young boys. In another life, I was an elementary school teacher, before diving deep in my true passion for my own babies and writing. My new children’s book, “Be” encourages kids to be the best versions of themselves while being accepting and kind to everyone they meet. Follow me on Facebook at Raising Humble Humans

There’s Tenderness in Tween Boys Too

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Mother and young boy smiling, color photo

My 9-year-old son, Waylan, had a flag football game last night. It was chilly. It was windy. I didn’t want to dig out my heavy winter coat, but I knew I would need more than a windbreaker, so I reached for the fuzzy blanket we keep on the back of the sofa in the living room.  My 11-year-old son, Liam, walked in as I was folding the blanket and said, “No, Mom. I’ve got a more ‘football-ish’ blanket for you.” He disappeared to his bedroom and returned moments later carrying his beloved Kansas City Chiefs blanket, which is typically not...

Keep Reading

Oh, How I’ll Miss Little You

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child standing in leaves, looking up, color photo

Oh, my sweet little child, I wish you could stay this little forever. I wish these days would never end. They are busy, loud, and chaotic—but, oh, how I love them! They make my life feel whole. Complete. I don’t know what I will do when these days are gone. I will miss your sweet little face looking up at me. The innocence in your eyes. Your sweet little grin. I will miss how your face lights up when you see me. How your little arms manage to give me the biggest hugs. How I can make everything better with...

Keep Reading

There’s Just Something about a 4-Year-Old

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
4 year old girl smiling outside

There’s just something about a 4-year-old. The way their bubbly laughs and sweet little faces still have some traces of babyhood while they’re transforming into more and more of their own unique person right before your eyes.  The way they ask questions about everything under the sun, listen wide-eyed to your clumsy answers, and believe every single word you say. It’s so innocent (and scary) the way they believe absolutely anything you tell them—just because you’re “mommy.”  The way their still-a-little-chubby hand finds yours. And the way they still come running to you for a hug and kiss when they’re hurt. Or...

Keep Reading

Find the People Who Will Root for You

In: Friendship, Kids, Motherhood
Empty sports field, color photo

My son participated in tryouts out for a new travel soccer team at the end of a recreational fall soccer season one chilly evening in November. He has been playing recreational soccer since he was three years old when we started with the local club. He has been asking about joining a travel team since kindergarten. In recent seasons, I watched him struggle in the recreational league. I watched him wanting a little bit more in the sport as he developed his passion—he was ready to grow.  We knew he loved soccer, and it was something he had always wanted...

Keep Reading

You Don’t Raise Your Babies to Be Little Forever, but I Thought I’d Have More Time

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Little boy peeking over wooden fence, color photo

I can see the yellow blur of the school bus passing in front of my window. Soon my little boy will excitedly burst through the front door with his picture of a giraffe from art class. His big brown eyes will meet mine as I get a toothless “I missed you, Mom” grin. He will tell me everything he had on his tray for lunch, recount the whole soccer game at recess, and share all about that hilarious thing his friend said on the bus. He will then sit on my lap as he takes each school paper out of...

Keep Reading

No Man in a Girl’s Life Holds More Influence than Her Dad

In: Kids, Marriage, Motherhood
Father and daughter on amusement ride, color photo

As I sat outside Walmart watching my husband of nearly 16 years walk in with my 9-year-old daughter to buy me a box of tampons, I realized how blessed I am.  This is real life. Not only does he not care about running into the store and picking up these items, he asks our girls if they want to join him, and they use this time to talk. They talk about real-life—about growing up, changing bodies, what tampons are even for, how they can wait years and years before they need to start dating, how he will be waiting outside...

Keep Reading

My Little Girl Has Big, Brave Dreams

In: Kids, Motherhood
School paper with little girl's handwriting, color photo

My 6-year-old daughter wants to be a soldier.   When we heard from the ultrasound tech that we were having another girl, that was not exactly the career path that popped into our heads.   There’s something absolutely terrifying knowing your child wants to do something big like this. I’m sure I’d be petrified if I had a son with the same ambition, but there’s something extra scary about it being your little girl. There’s something weighty about raising a daughter who wants to be a soldier. But honestly, it’s not a surprise at all. RELATED: God Has Filled Your...

Keep Reading

As My Children Grow, I Miss It All—Even the Sick Days

In: Kids, Motherhood
Toddler on mom's shoulder

I whisk my daughter through the doors of urgent care and cradle her head as I stand behind three other mamas clinging to their babies. We’re each rocking in different ways but moving nonetheless. The silent, comforting rhythm of motherhood. I see sad, sick eyes from the babies with their heads nestled into the necks of their mama. I’m tired from the sleepless night, and I shift from foot to foot. There is hushing and humming and back-patting. A pacifier drops to the floor. All of a sudden my daughter feels heavy. A vague sinking feeling comes over me, like...

Keep Reading

Life with Autism Is Full of Ticking Time Bombs

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother, father, teen daughter, color photo

Many of us who live with autism are familiar with the comings and goings of the ticking time bomb—one that disappears for periods of time, so much so that we might forget about it. Then, suddenly, this bomb drops at our doorstep in the form of a returning or new obstacle, so intense that it causes us to pause our lives, alter our plans, maybe even change our current paths. For our family, the new challenge has been sudden, piercing, sporadic screams. Not constant, not even often, thankfully, but jolting nonetheless. So here we were, in the midst of our...

Keep Reading

Youth Sports Build Strong Kids

In: Kids
Young girl with gymnastics medal, color photo

My kids are heavily involved in sports. My son plays for an elite basketball team and my daughter competes on an Xcel gymnastics team. It takes up a lot of our time and a lot of our money. Even though prioritizing youth sports seems to be an American norm, we still sometimes receive criticism and judgment as to why we would spend so much of our time and resources on it. (“Don’t you know the chances of your child going pro is less than 1%?”) As I sat at my daughter’s gymnastics meet, listening to the parents cheer so excitedly...

Keep Reading

 5 Secrets to Connect with Your Kids

FREE EMAIL BONUS

Proven techniques to build REAL connections