What if instead of focusing on what isn’t working, we looked at these stories as an invitation to do better?
There is no shortage of dire news about the state of modern recycling. Most recently, this NPR article shared the jaw-dropping statistic that about 5% of all plastics produced get recycled, meaning the rest of it ends up in landfills. While the underlying concerns here are sound, I worry that the public narrative around recycling has gotten so pessimistic that it will make people give up on it entirely instead of seeing the opportunities to improve it. What if instead of focusing on what isn’t working, we looked at these news stories as an invitation to do better?
This question isn’t rhetorical for me; it’s been the motivation behind how I’ve spent the past five years of my life. It started when my son Owen asked me how we could recycle our dead batteries where we live in Seattle. After making a few phone calls and realizing how complicated it was, we made it a weekend project to pick up our neighbor’s batteries along with other hard-to-recycle items.This novel approach of having your hard-to-recycle stuff “carpool” with your neighbors quickly caught on in Seattle. Our rapidly growing community was looking at their junk drawers with new eyes, felt inspired to be part of something bigger, and kept asking what else we could pick up.
This enthusiasm turned my family’s passion project into Ridwell, a company whose mission it is to make it easy to deal with hard-to-recycle materials like plastics, light bulbs, batteries, & more. We pick up where curbside recyclers leave off, providing our members in six states with a way to recycle and reuse materials right from their doorsteps. In 2022 alone, our community kept more than one million pounds of hard-to-recycle plastic film out of landfills. To date, we’ve kept more than ten million pounds of hard-to-recycle materials from going to waste. All of this impact started with a simple, optimistic reframe. Instead of dwelling on what our curbside service couldn’t take, we instead asked ourselves how we could help.
Ryan Metzger, Founder and CEO of Ridwell
It’s been a lot of work to be sure, but what’s kept me motivated on this journey has been learning about all of the exceptional efforts happening elsewhere to make recycling work better for everyone. Our elected officials are creating new policies that powerfully shift market incentives, like Maine’s law that makes companies pay for their own recycling or California’s law that creates more demand for recycled plastic. Engineers are developing new ways to recycle tricky plastics, while citizens across the country are raising awareness about the need for government and corporations to do more.
The longer I’ve worked in the recycling space, the more I’ve found allies and collaborators who are finding surprising uses for materials that used to be dismissed as trash. Trex has pioneered a method of turning soft plastics like grocery bags into high-performance decking for homes. Companies like ByFusion and Arqlite are turning multilayer plastic packaging once considered unrecyclable into building materials and hydroponics gravel. The types of innovations we’ll need to solve our recycling crisis are all around us; we just need to keep connecting these pockets of innovation into a more holistic system of reuse and recycling.
So while the news cycle around recycling can often feel overwhelming, I always encourage people to use these grim statistics as motivation to lean into the challenge and look for solutions. For some people, that’s calling their legislators, and for others, it’s coming up with new packaging that has a smaller environmental footprint. For those of us at Ridwell, it’s about how we can help make it easy for households to keep hard-to-recycle materials out of the landfill. As the past decade has shown us, the overwhelming “Pacman-shaped” chunk of the pie chart often shows us where the most impactful innovations must come from and where the next wave of businesses must focus. Yes, we are at an inflection point when it comes to addressing the problems posed by excessive waste in this country. To be honest, I’ve never felt more optimistic that we have what it takes to address this problem, together.
Ryan Metzger is a guest contributor to Upworthy and founder and CEO of Ridwell
Talk about playing hard to get.
A woman named Jackie pulled a move straight out of a romantic comedy recently, and it has the internet rallying around her potential love interest. Jackie met a guy at a bar and liked him so much that she gave him her phone number. Well, 80% of her number, that is.
The world heard about it on January 17 when Twitter user Henpecked Hal and shared a picture of the napkin with her partial phone number written on it. "My 22-year-old cousin met his dream girl at a bar and it's going pretty well,” Hal wrote in the tweet.
“Call me! 512-3*1-2*04,” the message read, along with "I'm worth it." The 512 is an area code in Austin, Texas.
After congratulating his cousin on meeting his “dream girl,” he asked: "Did you get her number." The cousin replied, “most of it.” The Tweet also attached a photo of a list of phone numbers the cousin called to try and get in touch with the elusive Jackie.
The tweet has gone insanely viral, racking up nearly 60,000 retweets, 85.6 million views and 776,000 likes.
The next day, Hal revealed that the woman reached out to him. In the screenshot of her message, she wrote: “Heeeyyy, so you likely won’t see this but I’m Jackie from the tweet!”
"Tell your cousin that next time I see him I'm going to...” she continued, but Hal blurred out the rest of the message to conceal her identity.
“I just talked to him! WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER????” Hal replied. “He said he’s halfway through the list, which means he’s actually like 10 per cent of the way through it.”
Update 1/3: WE FUCKING DID IT! pic.twitter.com/ccQ1puS8OJ— Henpecked Hal (@HenpeckedHal) January 18, 2023
“He may not be as clever as he thinks,” Jackie responded, “give me HIS number, I’m taking over this operation.”
A lot of people in the comments said they thought Jackie was cold or arrogant for playing hard to get and making poor Hal’s cousin try 100 different numbers to find out which one was her. But Hal says that it’s all an extension of the conversation the two had at the bar.
"For the people saying she's arrogant, high maintenance or whatever: these kids talked for an hour about a shared interest in true crime, mysteries, etc,” Hal tweeted. “My cousin bragged that he always solves the case before the show ends (editor's note: not this time). I think she's awesome."
So, all Jackie did was give him another mystery to solve. If he’s such a great amateur detective then he should be able to reach her, right?
Some people in the comments have suggested that the story is fake. One person noted that the notebook page with the phone numbers on it had an indentation at the top which could be the “5” in Jackie’s phone number from the napkin. The implication is that Hal wrote on the napkin while it was on top of the notebook, leaving an indentation. But other people pointed out that the writing didn’t match.
Yikes! Forgot to take your napkin off your notepad first… pic.twitter.com/0gCKeSxz12— Tommy Balloons (@franchise193747) January 18, 2023
Through everything, Hal has received a ton of support from people on Twitter trying to help his cousin’s love life.
The cousin could use ChatGPT to create a Python script that could automate much of this 😂— Amir Salihefendić (@amix3k) January 18, 2023
There are only 100 permutations here (10^2), so it's not that bad. pic.twitter.com/Wl2drylf1F
“The programmers who sent scripts and code, the excel junkies who sent me docs to share with my cousin, y’all are wild,” Hal tweeted. “I couldn’t come close to getting back to everyone, but I appreciate it.”
Nearly 90 million people have followed the story of Hal’s cousin and Jackie. Let’s hope there’s a happy ending or at least they get to meet up and see each other again to talk about the mystery that brought them both together.
"As long as they're denying my claims for my services on that ground, they can do that to any trans healthcare provider of any type."
Insurance companies can be a frustrating maze for consumers and for providers. It's not uncommon to call the number on the back of your insurance card and get a different answer every time you call with the same question. But for Dr. Tiffany Najberg, the fight with the insurance companies is a bit more personal.
Najberg is a transgender woman who has run into a multitude of problems in the insurance claims world—not as a patient, but as a provider. After changing her name legally and updating all of the required information on official websites, including the Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare and the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System, two websites insurance companies look at to verify providers' credentials and ability to practice, her claims have been denied.
In the beginning of this year-long saga, Najberg was receiving checks, but the checks were in her dead name and couldn't be cashed. After going several rounds with the insurance companies, the checks stopped coming and the insurance companies started denying her claims altogether. Of course, this prompted even more questions and frustration since Najberg updated the insurance companies with her legal name as required.
Najberg told Upworthy that on six different occasions, she and her billing company attempted to rectify the situation to no avail. These aren't small companies that may have never encountered such a request. In fact, many Americans with insurance are likely covered by one of the companies she's currently challenging. "Human, Cigna and Aetna flat out refused, but Medicaid, BlueCross BlueShield changed it immediately so it clearly has been approved through national databases," Najberg said.
#greenscreen please share help me permanently fix this problem. here is the link for yall: chng🦋it/MLJcPRQNcc replace the butterfly with a dot #fyp #drtiffany #tiffocracy #urgentems #arklatexacceleratedcare #trans #lgbt #aetna #cigna #humana #callmebymyname
The insurance companies' refusal to pay has been hurting Najberg and her practice, UrgentEMS, located in Shreveport, Louisiana. "My clinic treats everyone, but we aim towards communities that are underinsured and uninsured. I don’t have money to pay my rent next month because of this," the doctor told Upworthy.
Najberg explained that between the three major insurance companies, she is currently owed nearly $200,000 in unpaid claims. Of course, she could turn patients who have these particular insurances away, but for Najberg, that's not an option because she focuses on serving those who are underinsured and people in marginalized communities. She currently has over 100 trans patients who need continued healthcare with someone who makes them feel safe.
During the height of the pandemic, her clinic served as a place where people could get COVID-19 treatment, with Najberg proudly saying she treated everyone across the political spectrum. Najberg has built such a reputation on TikTok for her openness and ability to present public health issues in a relatable way that CDC officials have contacted her for pointers on how to engage the public.
But none of that matters if she can't keep her doors open, and the fear that comes from recognizing that possibility keeps her up at night. Through tears, Najberg expressed her concerns for the most vulnerable population she treats, saying, "I'll likely have to sleep in my car, and what about my trans patients? If my clinic closes, a few of them may kill themselves."
Dr. Najberg runs a clinic in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Courtesy of Dr. Tiffany Najberg
Najberg actually found herself in the position to lose everything last month after once again not being paid, but thankfully someone anonymously paid the rent on her office space, which costs around $5,000 a month. Recently, she has relied on donations from her followers in order to keep her doors open until she wins her fight with the insurance companies.
During the interview, Najberg informed Upworthy that one insurance company is now complying. "Aetna has started processing all the back claims and a new contract has been signed. I have no retirement anymore. I have no savings. I’ll never own property. For a lifetime to be wiped away over a name change is ridiculous," Najberg said.
A name change isn't uncommon. People change their names for multiple reasons, the main one being marriage, so it would stand to reason that insurance companies know how to navigate name changes within their system. What makes this name change so different if other companies had no issue?
It took Najberg months of phone calls to find out the reason for her denials was due to her name change and she was advised to submit under her dead name. But submitting an insurance claim under a different name than your own is insurance fraud and kind of illegal, she protested.
For Najberg, who's had a lifelong passion for helping people, the fight isn't just for herself.
"If they’re doing this to me, they have to be doing this to other people. If they get away with this, they’ll do it to other trans providers," Najberg told Upworthy.
If you'd like to support Dr. Tiffany in her fight against the insurance companies, you can sign her petition here, and if you'd like to donate to help her pay rent and get needed medical supplies, you can do that here.
The audience went wild.
Brendan Fraser might be making the greatest career comeback ever, racking up accolades and award nominations for his dramatic, transformative role in “The Whale." But the OG Fraser fans (the ones who watch “Doom Patrol” solely to hear his voice and proudly pronounce his last name as Fray-zure, for this is the proper pronunciation) have known of his remarkable talent since the 90s, when he embodied the ultimate charming, dashing—and slightly goofball—Hollywood action lead.
Let us not forget his arguably most well known and beloved 90s character—Rick O’Connell from the “Mummy” franchise. Between his quippy one-liners, Indiana Jones-like adventuring skills and fabulous hair, what’s not to like?
During a double feature of “The Mummy” and “The Mummy Returns” in London, moviegoers got the ultimate surprise when who should walk in but Brendan Fraser himself, completely decked out in Rick O’Connell attire. The brown leather jacket. The scarf. Everything.
"I am proud to stand before you tonight," he told the audience. "This is a film that was made in Britain. You should know that! Even the second one, too. Be proud. Thank you for being here."
He continued, "We didn’t know if it was a drama or a comedy or a straight-ahead action or romance, a horror picture, more action, all of the above. No idea until it tested in front of British audiences. Thank you for that.”
Fraser then asked the crowd if anyone hadn’t actually seen the movie yet, before shouting, “Outstanding!” when somebody raised their hand. He then quickly made a polite plug encouraging people to go see “The Whale” before whisking himself away, saying, “I won’t take up any more of your time.”
Uh, yeah…I don’t think any time spent with Brendan Fraser is a waste. Do you?
Watch the adorable clip below:
As to whether or not "Mummy" fans will ever see a new Rick O'Connell story up on the big screen—only time will tell. In the meantime, we'll keep watching this video on repeat.
"Do you have an aisle specifically where single men are?"
Even though people have endless options to find love these days, whether in real life or online, finding the perfect person still isn’t easy. In fact, according to Pew Research, 55% of women believe dating is harder today than it was 10 years ago. So it’s understandable that some are considering ditching the apps to meet people in real life.
Studies show that for people looking for a serious relationship, real life may be the better option.
According to Newsweek, a study by Illinois State University sociology professor Susan Sprecher found that young people who first met face to face were 25% more likely to report feelings of closeness than those who initially met online. Aditi Paul, a communications professor at Pace University in New York, found that people who first met in real life lasted four times longer than those who met online.
Single women who’ve been let down by the men they’ve met online have started a funny TikTok trend where they are going to Home Depot to find a husband. Why not? If you’re looking for a hard-working man, that’s probably where to find one.
It appears as though the trend first started on TikTok in 2021. "Ladies, no joke, Home Depot is where you go if you want to meet a man," TikTok user @meganlouise217 said.
Home Depot is made out of husband material. #datingadvice #husband #single #fyp #fyi
Holly Allen is a taken woman but she swears that the men are "everywhere" at Depot at 8:30 am on a Wednesday. "For all of you ladies who are trying to find the perfect soul mate. I've found them,” she said.
For all my single ladies! #homedepot #singleladies #fyp #overthirty #foundthem
TikTok user @joleene_d took the trend to heart and went to the source, Home Depot employees, and asked them where to find the single men. "Do you have an aisle specifically where single men are?" she asked.
Reply to @jenhealer I tried! @Home Depot. It didn't work. (two and a half weeks into my 4-week online dating experience.) #homedepot #onlinedating #single
It's not just the women who are looking to find a man at Home Depot.
now it’s all about finding love in the lumber aisle ✋😔 @tannertan36
However, finding love is hard no matter where you look for it. Some women complained that they visited their local Home Depot and came up empty-handed.
"Meh. Maybe A diff location,” @latinkitty wrote.
Meh. Maybe A diff location?😅🤣 #homedepot #fyp #MakeASplash #viral #single #fy #foryou #men #eyecandy #workingmen
"Where is the husband aisle?" @rileyontok asked.
Out of stock 🤷♀️ #homedepotchallenge #gossipgirlhere #fypシ #singlemom #trending #creator #greenscreenvideo #foryou #fyp #homedepot
Megan Louise has some words for those who say there are no single men to be found at Home Depot. She says they're going at the wrong time.
"A good man, he works, he works during the day,” Megan said. “You have to go when they open at five. Because they're going there before work they're getting whatever they forgot, lost, or broke the day before. Now, they're in a hurry, late and probably haven't had coffee yet. So you need to be ready, have your number on paper, hand it to them and hope you believe in love at first sight because that's how it's going to happen."
She also says it's best to avoid Saturdays because that’s when married men shop at Home Depot. She says Friday nights are great because all the taken men are out with their significant others.
Reply to @tinabear313 how to get a man at Home Depot pt 2 kinda... like for a pt3 #homedepot #datingadvice #single #homeimprovement #fyp #fyi
Even though picking up people at big-box retail locations may not be the best way to create a long-term relationship, the Home Depot challenge is an important reminder to get off our phones and meet people in real life for a change. You may be missing out on someone really special because you may find chemistry with someone in person who didn't stand out online.
Several times during the surgery, the patient played the theme song from "Love Story" by Francis Lai.
This article originally appeared on 10.17.22
Do you ever step back and marvel at the miraculous things human beings have figured out how to do?
Now, a team of doctors in Italy has successfully performed a highly complex, nine-hour brain surgery on a man while he was awake and while he played the saxophone. Not only that, but the patient reported feeling "tranquility" during the surgery and only spent a few days in the hospital after the surgery before being discharged.
According to CBS News, a 35-year-old male patient had a brain tumor removed at Paideia International Hospital in Rome, Italy, on October 10. The surgery was led by Dr. Christian Brogna, a neurosurgeon who specializes in complex cancer surgeries and "awake surgery," in which patients are not put under general anesthesia. According to the Mayo Clinic, certain brain surgeries actually require a patient to be awake and responsive during the procedure to lessen the risk of the surgery damaging areas of the brain that could affect vision, movement or speech.
Dr. Brogna told CBS News that this particular surgery was located in "a very, very complex area of the brain" and also pointed out that the patient is left-handed. "This makes things more complicated because the neural pathways of the brain are much more complicated," he said. Recent research shows that left-handed people differ in brain asymmetry from right-handed people and that the right and left hemispheres of the brain tend to be more connected in people who are left-handed.
The team of 10 who successfully completed the surgery was made up of neurosurgeons, anesthesiologists, neuropsychologists, neurophysiologists and engineers from around the world. Though other awake craniotomies that included a patient playing a musical instrument have been done before, the level of complexity and cutting-edge technologies used in this surgery made it a notable accomplishment.
Why the saxophone? The man had told the surgeons that retaining his musical abilities was of the utmost importance to him.
"Awake surgery makes it possible to map with extreme precision during surgery the neuronal networks that underlie the various brain functions such as playing, speaking, moving, remembering, counting," Brogna said in the hospital's news release. Playing music during the surgery gave the surgeons a visual of where those functions were in the patient's brain and helped them ensure they were keeping them intact.
Several times during the surgery, the patient played the theme song from "Love Story" by Francis Lai and the Italian national anthem on his saxophone. (You can watch him playing in the video below shared by Voice of America.)
"To play an instrument means that you can understand music, which is a high cognitive function," Brogna told CBS News. "It means you can interact with the instrument, you can coordinate both hands, you can exercise memory, you can count — because music is mathematics — you can test vision because the patient has to see the instrument, and you can test the way the patient interacts with the rest of the team," he said.
Such surgeries require intense preplanning and familiarity with the patient's normal functioning, and the team met with the patient six or seven times in the 10 days leading up to the surgery.
"When we operate on the brain, we are operating on the sense of self, so we need to make sure that we do not damage the patient as a person — their personality, the way they feel emotions, the way they get through life," Brogna told CBS News. "The patient will tell you what is important in his life and it is your job to protect his wishes."
As amazing as surgery like this is, Brogna reminds us that there's still so much we don't know about the way the brain works. Prodecures like this one help doctors learn in addition to helping patients.
"Each operation in awake surgery not only allows to obtain the maximum result in terms of removal of the pathology, but it is a real discovery," Brogna said in the hospital's news release. "Each time it offers us a window into the functioning of this fascinating, but still in many ways mysterious organ, which is the brain."
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You can't please everyone!
This article originally appeared on 03.08.16
Like most parents, I didn't know what I was doing when I first became a mom — because I'd never done it before.
I was 27 when our first child joined our family through adoption. He was 10 months old.
I'd read everything I could get my hands on — books, articles, blog posts, and a whole lot more — in the year leading up to his adoption. So I had some solid book knowledge. But real life experience? Nah.
Sure, I babysat as a teenager, and I was a really good parent before I actually became one. However, as most parents know, parenting is very much a learn-as-you-go gig. We use the abstract knowledge we arm ourselves with and apply it the best we can while trying to keep our heads above water.
My husband and I made some mistakes, and we did some things brilliantly.
We faced a lot of challenges — both the regular ones that all new parents encounter and some more complex ones because our son spent 10 months in an orphanage before we became his parents. But we felt pretty good about our family, and we gained confidence as parents.
We thought: "Hey, we like this parenting thing. And we're decent at it. We're not the worst. Let's do it again!"
So less than a year and a half later, I became a second-time mom when we adopted our daughter, Molley.
My daughter and me on her first birthday, about four months after she joined our family.
She was eight months old — and just as amazing as our son. After she was with us for about six months and we'd overcome some serious health challenges, her personality began to develop, and I quickly realized something:
I had no idea what I was doing.
Seriously, no idea.
All of that parenting experience I'd gained with my son did. not. apply. to. this. child.
She was a different person with a totally different personality, and those magical "skills" I'd allowed myself to think I'd developed were basically useless.
She was spirited and clever, kind and thoughtful, inquisitive and skeptical, opinionated and insistent.
And did I mention spirited?
After the first time she threw herself down on the ground in public and proceeded to scream bloody murder — probably when she was around 15 months old — because she wasn't interested in whatever I'd suggested, I called my mom.
Not my child. But it totally could have been.
"What's happening?" I asked. "Mattix never did this. What even is going on here?! The world is ending. Send help STAT!"
As moms often do, she imparted upon me some words of wisdom: Kids aren't carbon copies of each other. And sometimes, we have to do everything differently ... even when what we did before worked.
So that's what I did.
What Laditan wrote is a variation of what many parents have said and believed since, well, the beginning of time.
Yes, it takes a village. And no, we shouldn't parent in a silo. We benefit greatly from the help of friends and family and sometimes even complete strangers. But when it comes down to it, there's a wide space between "best parent ever" and "worst parent on the planet" — and as long as we're trying hard and landing somewhere slightly to the left of the middle, we're probably doing just fine.
So unless we see actual abuse, we should probably just keep our mouths shut or maybe offer a few encouraging words or a small sign of solidarity to the other parents in the trenches. 'Cause it's very likely that they're doing their best, too.
You know the thing about "good parents?" There's not just one type.
That's why I absolutely loved a recent post by mom and author Bunmi Laditan. She's the comedic genius behind Honest Toddler on Twitter. (If you have young kids and you find humor to be a coping mechanism for the hard stuff parenting throws at you, do yourself a favor and follow her.) She also keeps us laughing, nodding our heads, and even crying a little with her Facebook posts.
But this one in particular is something every parent should read:
"If you work, you're missing your kid's childhood. If you stay home, you're wasting your education and not giving them an example of a strong, independent woman. If you're a strict disciplinarian, your children will be stunted emotionally with damaged spirits. If you practice gentle parenting, you're raising a future serial killer.
\n\nIf you homeschool, your child will never be able to succeed in society and will live in your basement playing World of Warcraft and and attend furry conventions forever. If they go to private school, they'll be elitist snobs. If they go to public school, good luck because they'll be on heroin before 7th grade and are probably pregnant right now.
\n\n\n\nIf you have only one child, they're going to be lonely and when you die, they'll have no one. If you have two of the same sex, how sad for you- surely you'll try for the opposite gender? If you have three or more, you're contributing to the collapse of the environment, imminent extinction of all protected species and overpopulation with your freakishly large family.
\n\n\n\nIf you're raising a vegan, you're annoying and your child's bones are surely brittle as hell. If your kids eat meat, you're a ruthless murderer and don't you know sausage causes cancer? If your kids can't have sugar, you're denying them a proper childhood. If your kids can have sugar, you're setting them up for a life of obesity and a snack cake addiction.
\n\n\n\nIf you breastfed, it was either for too long or not long enough and please do it under a tarp in a pitch black room because nobody wants to see your sex breasts. If you didn't breastfeed, your child will never know true love, good health, or a real mother's love.
\n\n\n\nThe moral of the story is, when it comes to parenting, there is always someone who'll think you're doing it all wrong so unless they're paying your bills, just do you."
After hearing the highest of praises and the lowest of insults when my daughter was younger, that's the mental space I had to get myself to.
I kept on keeping on, and you know what? It's going great. We got through our rough period that lasted about three years — until Molley was around 5 — and landed in a really positive place. We have an amazing relationship, and she continues to be a remarkable human being.
She even got me over my hatred of selfies!
Molley is 7.5 now and the past few years of parenting her have been an incredible experience — fun, humbling, interesting, and, of course, hard sometimes. We recently learned after some extensive testing that she's "gifted."
Her 7.5-year-old brain has the logical reasoning and comprehension abilities of a child 10 years old, and her vocabulary is many grade levels above that of a typical second-grader. It all kind of makes sense now — all of those hard times we had — and I'm so glad I didn't let the opinions of others dictate what I did or didn't do.
Being silly at lunch one day.
Did I make mistakes? Of course I did. Any parent who says otherwise is being dishonest. But I made choices that I felt were best for my child, and in the end, they were generally good ones. Had those strangers who wanted to make me feel like the worst mother ever been successful, maybe we wouldn't be in such a good place now. I'm certain we'll encounter bumps and challenges in the future because that's what happens with parenting and kids. But I know we can handle whatever comes up.
I parented her the way I felt would work best, adjusting as we went.
I did most things differently than I had with Mattix, all in response to her needs. It just so happens that parenting Molley in public was a bit more of a spectacle, as she was a lot more vocal and physical about her displeasure, which she seemed to experience often.
I didn't allow us to interrupt other people's dining or shopping experiences. But on the sidewalk, at the park, in the parking lot, at the super-noisy pizzeria where we could barely even hear ourselves talk because it was so loud ... we did our thing. If she hurled her sippy cup or dropped her stuffed animal and then promptly hit the deck to really drive home the point about how annoyed she was with me, we waited there until she got up herself, picked up her stuff, and walked on her own.
Sometimes that took five minutes. Sometimes it took 45. It turns out that we're well-matched in the stubbornness department, and I truly felt that what we were doing was best.
Parenting her at home was quite different, too, but nobody was around to judge that.
I'd noticed things about Molley that were different. She was incredibly verbal by 12 months old — she had hundreds of words and spoke in sentences. By 18 months old, she'd go to her room when she was mad and stay there for hours, waiting me out, declining my offers to join the rest of us.
I was certainly learning as I went, but I knew one thing for sure: I couldn't parent her like a typical child. Because she wasn't a typical child. And that meant people, especially strangers, had lots of opinions.
I learned a few things very quickly: First, a lot of people want you to know exactly what they think of your parenting skills and style.
The second thing I learned is that there's no consistency to others' opinions. One person would walk by us, doing our thing on the sidewalk during a meltdown, and tell me what a wonderful, patient mother I was and how my daughter was going to grow into a respectful, good person because of what I was doing.
Five minutes later, another person would encounter us in the exact same situation and loudly comment about what a terrible mother I was and remark upon me being "the reason kids are so awful these days."
It happened all the time. The fact that we obviously look so different from each other probably made us stand out a bit more, but I think this is something all parents of spirited children encounter. People would even take photos of us with their smartphones. Now that I think about it, I wonder how many "shame on this parent" Facebook posts we were featured in.
It didn't take me long to tune out the negative, focus on my children and myself, and put my energy into being the best parent I could be, the opinions of strangers notwithstanding.
Still, it's not fun to constantly hear you suck because you're not doing something the way someone else thinks you should.
Parenting is fantastic — it's the best part of life I've ever undertaken — and it's a lot of work. As rewarding as it is, it can be physically tiring (OMG my kids didn't sleep when they were babies), and it can be emotionally draining.
My kids and me, shortly after our daughter joined our family. Ohhh, the look of sweet naiveté on my face...
Most of us are doing the best we can. We're reaching out and asking for help and advice when we want or need it. We're reading everything we can. We're adjusting our techniques and reactions when they're not working. In the interest of keeping it real, some of us will admit we're crying on the floor of our bedroom closet on occasion.
All of that is because we care. We love our kids. We want to be good parents for them.