I was around 10 years old when I was at the grocery store with my mom, my mom’s friend, and the friend’s three-year-old son. The friend had put a package of decorated cupcakes in her shopping cart and for five minutes the boy screamed. He wanted one. Now.
The other mom kept explaining that they were for after dinner. She threatened and she pleaded with him to stop, but he continued to whine. Finally, at the checkout line the boy’s whines exploded into tears. I still remember my shock when the mom got the cupcake out of the package and gave it to her son.
“There, are you happy now?” she asked. He was (at that moment, at least). He ate the cupcake with a frosting-and-sprinkle-decorated smile.
Even though I was a kid myself, my common sense told me she’d just encouraged his horrid behavior. When I had kids, I understood the problem better. The mom had been embarrassed. She was no doubt tired from a long day. It was only one cupcake, right? What would it hurt? Yet that memory molded my own practice with my kids. Even though I “gave in” at times when I shouldn’t, common sense won out the majority of the time. Common sense told me that if I allowed that behavior when my son was four there would be BIGGER problems when he was fourteen.
Common sense means telling our child “no” when she asks for a snack before dinner—even if it means she’s going to throw a fit. It means praying with your child and reading a book before bedtime, even though you’ll miss the first ten minutes of your favorite show. It means actually looking at your child and answering when he is talking to you, even if the email/Facebook message piques your interest more.
When common sense is mated with our sense of responsibility as a mom, two key ingredients of Mommy Sensibility are in place. But like the little ones in our care, Sensibility must be unwrapped, appreciated, understood and nurtured. And with nurturing, our Mommy Sensibility grows.
My friend and homeschooling guru Amanda Bennett says, “As a mom, it took some time and bad consequences of me not acting on a bit of intuition to finally learn to listen for that still small voice and act on it. From the choice of my child’s friends, to heading in to the pediatrician when that certain look in my child’s eyes gives you an impression that it just might be an ear infection, to seeing his hesitation about joining in with other kids at the co-op, and knowing when it is time to check out what’s going on.”
As a mom, when does your Mommy Sensibility kick in?