Breathe More, Honk Less

I was driving to a mammogram appointment the other day when in the process of making a left turn the man behind me blared his horn at me.  This was no friendly little toot, it was a long drawn out angry BEEEEEEP!#!#! causing me to jump.  I admit I am not the best driver, but in this case I truly didn’t think I was doing anything wrong. Apparently, however, the man behind me thought I was turning too slowly because he blew by me as soon as the turn was complete.  After uttering a couple bad words and raising a certain finger, I took a deep breath and thought about this angry man behind me.  What if he knew that I was on my way to a mammogram?  What if he knew that I had had a very scary breast surgery a year and a half before and I was feeling pretty nervous about what my mammogram might show?  What if he knew that I had a friend who had just beat breast cancer and that I was thinking about her?  

If this angry man in such a hurry had known all these things would he still have honked at me so loudly and obnoxiously?  Would he still have sped by me in a rage?  Maybe, but it sure made me think.  I have honked at people too.  What if the people I have honked at in my human hurry have had horrible things going on in their day and I added to them with my impatient honking?  What if the people I’ve honked at when I’ve been in a hurry have just received some awful news?  What if they were just driving the very best they could drive that day because they were in some kind of physical pain?  Do the two seconds I have to wait for someone in front of me to go or turn really, truly affect the time in which I arrive somewhere?  Probably not.  Did that man behind me get to his destination more quickly because he blared his horn at me or did he just cause me undue stress?    

And it’s not just honking that I’ve done without thinking.  The other day I said something really rude.  While my daughters and I were in the car leaving school pick up my oldest daughter pointed out someone’s mom she knew.  I looked where she was pointing and meaning nothing by it blurted out:  “The big one?”  How horrible!  I couldn’t believe I said it and all three of my daughters (bless their sweet souls!) immediately yelled “MOM!  That is so mean!”  and I quickly apologized.  I meant only to be descriptive but it came out pretty darn rude whereas I could’ve said instead, “The lady in blue?”  But instead I used the word big, and I might’ve even said fat!  (I think I did say fat actually….).  Either way, I had absolutely nothing against this lady, but what a horrible thing to say.  And do I know why this woman was overweight?  Maybe she’s sad or stressed or filling up something empty inside her with food.  Maybe she has an illness or is on a medication that makes her gain weight.  I just don’t know and it is not my place to comment on it, especially in front of my daughters!  Shame on me!  One of my very dearest friends became extremely overweight when her father died because she filled the void with food.  I’m sure people said things about her behind her back or even made an unintentionally negative comment like I did, but how would they feel if they knew her father had just died and that she used to be thin before he passed?  I do not know why people are how they are and I have no right to say anything negative about anyone.  Especially about their looks!  I still feel awful about describing that mom in that way and I am sorry for it.

Being a parent often presents difficulties in holding in anger or judgement as well.  How many times in the heat of a moment have I unintentionally criticized a child or a teacher or another parent right in front of my children?  Right now there are some girls my oldest daughters age doing things I am shocked are being done in middle school.  I have to be a social media spy on my daughter’s accounts (as we are advise to do) and I see these things posted with my own eyes.  Just yesterday in shock I brought something I saw up to my daughter and said  “I can’t believe their parents let them do that!” of course, judging the parents.  But, again, I don’t know the story.  Do their parents know they are doing these things?  Are their parents going through something in their own lives that makes them oblivious to what is happening with their kids?  Did the parents have an upbringing that makes them think these things are ok?  Are the kids so lonely, so insecure, so neglected that they are looking for  ways to make themselves feel better about themselves?  Looking for other people to love them?  I cannot judge, I am not their parents. I know now, however, that I need to try to find ways to talk to my daughters about what I feel is right vs. wrong without making a rash statement that judges others.  And how can I do that if I myself am judging?  

I feel overall I am a good, loving person, but I am sure there are many other examples of my reacting in haste and unkindness.  The man who honked at me so rudely is not alone.  The more I think about some mistakes I have made the more I am now determined to try not to honk, try not to comment, try not to state negative opinions out loud, and try not to judge.  I know it is hard and I am human and I am not perfect, but I want to try harder.

If someone is moving slowly in traffic and I am in a hurry, I will try to take a deep breath.  Remember how I felt on the way to my mammogram when I was honked at.   If I am about to say something negative about someone I will try to take a deep breath and change my words.  If I hear something about other kids who are doing things I do not agree with I need to remember they are not my kids and that I don’t know what’s going on in their household.

Why do I want to make these efforts?  I want to make them because what example do I as an adult set for my daughters if I honk at others, if I name call, if I judge?  And truth be known we teach our children a heck of a lot by our actions, words and judgements.   Probably a lot more than we know.

My dear friend’s toddler daughter dropped the lovely F-bomb in a conversation about her brothers getting smoothies when she didn’t.  It’s a funny story to tell because it is pretty darn cute at her age, but she probably heard the F-bomb from me (truth be told because I spend a lot of time with her and say that word sometimes when my kids aren’t around!) and she imitated it.  My point in sharing this here is that even from the very youngest of ages kids imitate the adults they are around whether they realize it or not. And as they get older even if it may not be as obvious, they continue to imitate us.  I even still use the same laundry detergent my mom used when I was growing up!  We as mom’s impact our children’s lives in even the very, very smallest of ways.  Everything we do makes a difference!  (No pressure right!?!)

So for me, it all circles back to me to slowing down.  Breathing.  Thinking about what I am doing or saying before I do or say it.   For me it goes back to that old lesson we all have memorized:  “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it.”   Easier to say than to do for sure.

I am not perfect and I will make mistakes, but I’m going to try.  Maybe that man who honked at me was sent to me as a little reminder from my Angels to remember to be the way I want my daughters to be.  Treat people the way I want my daughters to treat people.  Act the way I want my daughters to act.

And if that man out there who honked at me before my mammogram is reading this, I just want him to know that my test results were perfect and he didn’t affect my day one bit.  In fact, he gave me quite a lot to think about.  BEEP, BEEP, BEEP!

And breathe.

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