A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Three Parenting Things I’m Doing Right

I don’t usually see myself as a parenting expert. I am one of those people who, for whatever reason, will do nine things right and one thing wrong, and I’ll stew over that one wrong thing for-EV-er. It drives my poor husband right up the wall. He sure wishes I’d give myself more credit and not be so damn hard on myself all the time.

So today for Just the Tip Tuesday, I want to tell you about three parenting things that I’ve done right lately. Maybe it will strike a chord. I hope so.

For starters, I recently taught my sweet daughter Mini-Me how to disassemble the bathroom faucets and scrub the hell out of them.

That may sound like child abuse, but I assure you, she loved it. See?


Our bathroom faucet knobs had been grossing me out for a while…they were all moldy on the inside and I couldn’t figure out how to take them off and clean them. So on Saturday when the whole family was working on our chores, I took Mini-Me into the bathroom with me to see if we could figure it out together.

And we did.

The key was, I let HER do the fun part with the screwdriver. She’s only nine and that girl already knows “righty-tighty/lefty loosey,” how not to strip a screw, and how to make a faucet shine like new. I’m pretty proud of that.

I grew up with a single mother. I learned how to clean and fix stuff when I was a kid, partly because I was a curious child who enjoyed solving problems, but also because we couldn’t always afford new things or a repairperson every time something broke. As a result, I grew up to be a very handy and independent woman. I want that for my daughter too. 

Which brings me to the next thing on my list of good parenting. My husband and I recently noticed Mini-Me complaining a lot (and no, not about her chores). We’d all be on a walk with the dog after dinner and I’d say, “Oh, see those lights on that house? I like those. They’re pretty.” (Meaning: someday when we get new lights, let’s get some like that.) And my daughter would immediately follow that with “I wish we had nice porch lights. Our porch lights are so ugly. Our whole porch needs a makeover!” Frankly, I couldn’t agree with her more, but I didn’t like how it sounded coming out of her mouth. So negative!

The next night after we said grace at the dinner table, we started having everyone say a few things for which they felt thankful. It was actually my husband’s idea, but we’ve been enforcing it as a family, so I’m counting that as good parenting on my part too.

I cannot even begin to tell you what a difference it is making in our attitudes. Instead of complaining all the time about what we don’t have, we are all finding so many blessings in our lives. And sharing it aloud at the table is like keeping a gratitude journal times five!

It’s gotten to the point where the kids just start sharing what they’re thankful for, sometimes even when we’re not at the dinner table. Makes me tear up a little just thinking about it. Bucket Head even took a pair of Spiderman underwear off yesterday and said, “These are too small. Let’s find a little poor child we can give them to.” (Don’t worry…I’ll wash them first.)

And speaking of sharing our blessings, look what Mini-Me did last week:

That’s right, girlfriend had 12 inches of hair cut and bagged to donate to children who need wigs. We have several friends who have lost their hair due to cancer treatments or Alopecia and my sweet Mini-Me wanted to help them somehow.

As her mother, I humbly take some of the credit for her generous act because I did the same thing with ten inches of my own hair this past April.

Our children may not hear a single word we say some days, but by golly, they sure are watching what we do. 

(Thank God she didn’t see me smoke that bag of hair in my homemade potato bong later that night.)


I kid!

You know I don’t smoke…hair.

I know I joke a lot about how my kids are raising themselves and that they are thriving in spite of me, but when I sit down and really take stock of the things I am doing right, I should probably give myself a little pat on the back now and then.

My children are amazing. They are generous, grateful, and capable, among other things. I must be doing something right at least some of the time.

How about you? What are you doing right that is rubbing off on your family? Please share your parenting gems so we can celebrate together.

Yours truly,


  1. Mary

    Tell your daughter her haircut looks awesome! My kiddos may he little shiXX sometimes, but I know I am doing something right when we talk and I realize what big hearts they have.

  2. HMM

    i love this:) We are big “give thanks for what we have” kind of people. And I have my own toolbox:) But that’s not my greatest parenting accomplishment… my GREATEST accomplishement.. is this: http://hotmessmom.com/my-greatest-accomplishment-as-a-mother

  3. Lauren

    Brava, Leslie! I’m a long-time reader, really good at lurking, but I must applaud you for this post in particular. I’m a kid of a single Mom, and for all the challenges we do face, I am grateful for the “little things” she did, like teaching me to fix things – and when to ask for help if the problem involves more than I can handle. I’m glad for your kids – and for you – that they’re getting the benefit of your Mom’s wisdom.

    Thanks, too, for tooting your own horn, with a particular brand of humility and gratitude – its far easier to list our faults (and others), and I’m guessing your kids will benefit from that, too! You’ve given a gift to all of us, reminding us that it’s as important to be thankful for what we can do well as it is to improve on that we can do better!

  4. tiffany

    My little one is two and brushed the hair out of my face and said “Hi, Beautiful” and gave me a kiss…

  5. By Word of Mouth Musings

    We are doing good, rocking the parenting gig – my 14 yr old Wiki, just lopped off eleven inches of her lovely locks this week too!

  6. Kim P

    Personally, I’m not really proud of all my parenting moments. About the time when my 4 girls were in the ages of 3 and 7, one of them pointed out all the hair that was in daddy’s armpit. I took that has a cue for a hygene lesson and told them, “That’s what happens when you don’t take a bath. A squirrel crawled up there and died from the smell”. My husband didn’t appreciate the comment, our oldest 3 didn’t quite buy the story, but our youngest had to stick her nose up there and try the odor out for herself (which my husband also didn’t appreciate very much).
    As of today none of them are convicts or drug addicts and they are pretty much all self sufficient so I guess we did ok.
    If your kids are happy, healthy, polite, and care about the well-being and feelings of others (humans and animals), you’re doing a good job and nothing else really matters.

  7. Emma

    Well done!! I’ve always wanted to donate hair! And what future husband will ever be able to resist a woman who can take care of her own home repairs!

  8. Glen

    Girls doing DIY??? Madness – They’ll be letting them drive next!

  9. Carrie

    I LOVE HER HAIR! Yours, too. But you’re always hot.

    What am “I” doing right? Not a darn thing. No kids so I can jack around and never be concerned of affecting anyone!

    And you’re probably one of the funnest mom’s ever. (Is any of that grammar and punctuation right??) Aside from the fact you make that sweet baby dig around in moldy tub stuff…definitely one of the funnest mom’s ever.


    Love. You.

  10. Kathleen Davis

    Loved this post. Just the other day, after helping him negotiate a return of driving privileges with his father, my 16 year old son text-ed me , “Thanks Mom you’re the greatest” OK…..This was in response to the text I sent him that said “You meant; Thanks Mom you’re the greatest” The next time I did some thing nice for him he said “Thanks Mom you’re the greatest” A Win – Win. Sometimes, you have to point out what they need to appreciate. PS…We have 3 kids. 16,12 and 4 so I appreciate your bucket head stories. We also have what we refer to as our Bonus Baby.
    Thanks for the Laughs. Kathleen

  11. Lisa Hewitt

    Awwwww. I was just getting over the georgeous pix of buckethead (that is a picture of a happy kid!) and now mini-me DIY’ing and donating her hair! (that is another happy kid and her hair cut is great). I love getting rid of the Negative and being thankful, so important. O.K. last good thing I did for my kid – jerked all his clothes out of the wash as he calmly (read- freaking out because he buys his own) told me he accidentally used bleach instead of detergent. Hs is 24. I remain hopeful. I am told, on a regular basis, what a fine young man he is and that usually makes me proud. It depends entirely on who is saying it and how much emhasis they put on “fine”. It can get creepy. So in a totally non-creepy way – You are raising some fine children.

  12. Susan

    Oh, your haircuts both look great! I am growing mine for the 3rd time for Locks of Love. Nope, I’m not some kind of saint. I just have hair the grows like crazy (I once had a friend call me a Chia Pet) AND I can’t make up my mind… do I want long hair? do I want short hair? I used to be considered indecisive for my constant cycle of growing-cutting-growing-cutting, etc. Now, I’m a hero! Woo Hoo! I just wish I’d known about Locks of Love years ago. I wonder if I’d have donated 20 times by now.. I bet I could have!

  13. Susan

    Oh man! I just realized I read the assignment wrong. We were supposed to tell you something we’d done right in the parenting department. Do I get do-overs? Hmmmmm…… well, I taught all my kids to do their own laundry by 7th grade, I taught them to give 10% to our church or charity of choice and I taught them the importance of loving their spouse. How’s that?

  14. Doreen

    Hi! Loved this. As mom’s, we need to remember each and every day we teach our children and they teach us. My girls are 24 and 25. My husband and I have taught them to be completely independent in a world that projects ‘entitlement’ without the hard work. They have both had to struggle to find their nitch in the world. We could have made it easy for them but we made them work for everything they have. They both said they were the only kids they knew in high school who had to buy their own cars. They took care of their cars because they had to pay for them.

    Looking back, it’s made them become self -sufficient responsible adults. They don’t look for free handouts and are the sweetest people I know. They are kind to others who are struggling and inspire people to succeed.

    Forgive the mistakes and celebrate the accomplishments. Raising kids is the hardest thing to do on this planet. I always wondered why kids don’t arrive with a manual. I guess we learn as we teach. My daughters’ successes is a direct reflection of our parenting. I’m thrilled we passed the test!

  15. John

    We have the same faucet knob for our shower . . . the only word of warning — if you do strip the screw, or drop the little cover thingie that pops off so that it cracks, it’s a pain in the ass to replace.

    And there are two of those faucet knob thingies, by the same manufacturer, sold at Home Depot — one of them is wrong. And I always buy the wrong one first. Always.

    Some of your readers aren’t especially smart, I guess. 🙂

  16. Jen at PIWTPITT.com

    I love that you’re teaching your daughter to be independent. Don’t forget to teach the boys how to change a bed. Sometimes I focus so much on Adolpha that I forget about Gomer and then I realize he’s regressing into a caveman.

    I love the haircut too. Adolpha did that at the beginning of the summer and we’re having so much fun with our extra 20 minutes every morning that I’m not doing hair. A cute headband is all you need!

    Keep up the good work! You are a good momma and your family is so lucky to have you.

  17. Arnebya

    Why is this so difficult, to think of something I’m doing correctly, let alone actually openly admit it? I am listening. I am recognizing when my girls need me to shut the hell up and when they may need a bit of mom advice, even on simple things like maybe you should double stitch that seam. I can unequivocally say I am doing dinner right. All of my kids love fruits and vegetables. I have them loving on kale chips right now. The 2 yr old may be skinny, but he eats well. His favorite things right now are raw broccoli, avocado, and tomatoes (not altogether, though). Chores are going well. My girls know how to wash dishes, empty the trash, iron, use the washer/dryer (haven’t tackled white clothes and bleach use yet, though). They may occasionally bitch about having to do the chores, but at least they know how.

    Hm. This felt good. I did have to think a bit, but once I realized there ARE things I’m doing correctly in the parenting department, it was a relief to actually say hey, maybe I’m not screwing them up. Yet.

  18. Tiffany

    Those are definitely things you are doing right! I need to figure out how to clean my washing machine knobs…it’s good you’re teaching her to be handy b/c that’s a skill I wish I had! Love the hair too.

  19. Heather

    I’m waaaaaaaaaayyyy behind on your posts (damn summer break!!) but just wanted to say 1) glad commenting is back on 🙂 2) my daughter donated her hair this summer, too. We have a cousin with Alopecia so it’s a cause close to our hearts. It’s actually my 9 yo’s 2nd time donating – girl grows hair like the Cher doll I had back in the 70’s – just crank the handle on her back! 3) my girl has the same bathing suit as mini-me (from the “wave” post) – great minds think alike!! Looking forward to Sept so I can catch up on all the fun I’ve missed!!!

  20. Allysgrandma

    Well with all the bullying press now, I have to brag that I was WAY ahead of the curve on that one. Kids are 33, 31 and 25 in a few days. I was all over bullying back when they were in grade school. I discussed how being mean to someone having a hard time could push them over the edge. I discussed how some kids did not have intact families or enough money for nice things and to be extra nice….guess what, I got compliments from teachers all the time about how nice my kids were. So that was 1 thing I did right! Not sure there were many others, certainly not how to keep a house, be organized or handle money well!!

  21. Mark

    It was great of you to encourage and teach kids about being compassionate. But I do have to say that short looks good on both of you.

  22. Happy Little Feet

    That is so amazing that you are raising such a beautiful, mature and caring daughter. I think you are doing a fantastic job.

  23. Courtney

    I know there are still many things I do “wrong” as a parent, but I must be doing SOMETHING right. My six-year-old son LOVES to read! He’ll take a good (children’s) book any day of the week, and can’t wait to come home from school on Monday and Thursday and show me (and read to me) the awesome new books he got

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