Love My Neighbor

BackyardKaitlyn

Kaitlyn on our back porch. Notice the paint chips on her face from chewing on her crib.

“Waaaahhhhhh!” I hear my daughter screaming at the top her lungs. I swoop in for the rescue. She’s just learned to walk, and her unsteady legs caused her trip and scrape her face on the brick wall of our porch. These mild sunny December days have lured the girls and me to spend many an hour outdoors.

Silence. She takes one of those deep breaths that lasts for thirty seconds. Uh-oh, this is going to be a big one. My Neighbor is definitely going to hear this one. “Waaaahhhhhh!!

I glance over the yard and see My Neighbor’s window blinds shift. Yep, she’s watching. Here’s another reason for her to come over and give me one of her lectures. Since the girls were born, My Neighbor, a retired eighty-three year old lady, has made it her mission to coach me to raising my girls better than she raised her own.

My Neighbor is a sweet, old school, self-sufficient lady. Gardening is her life since her family lives across the country. She has vegetables all year round, and fruit trees galore of peaches, pears, persimmons, figs. She even cuts her own grass! Picture an eighty something, five-foot Asian woman, seated atop a riding lawnmower with a pointy straw hat on her head.

Kaitlyn (facing) Ava and our dog Miles enjoy our back yarrd

Kaitlyn (facing foward) Ava and our dog Miles enjoy our back yard.

We love the outdoors too. Hence, My Neighbor is right on time to witness our family drama.

The Beginning. My Neighbor’s first lecture came when the girls were just 2 months old. One of our tactics for soothing our screaming babies was to take them outside for a change of scenery. It just so happened that whenever My Neighbor was outside, we had Kaitlyn in our arms. What My Neighbor didn’t know was that the other twin had GERD and spent eight hours a day crying and in someone arms. However, all My Neighbor saw was a set of parents showing favoritism.

Ah, here came lecture number one. She told me of her three daughters and how, unbeknownst to her, the middle-child was often neglected. As an adult, the middle-child told her mother how she felt left out. My Neighbor was ignorant to that mistake and obviously did not want to see me making the same.

“That’s wisdom,” I replied and nodded my head. I appreciated her story.

The Present. Well, a year later I’ve received many more lectures. Many. And today no doubt will trigger one for later this week. I’ll nod and say, “that’s good stuff.” But, what else can I do? She’s eighty freakin’ years old and does her own lawn!

Wisdom Goes Far. All I can say is “yes ma’am, you’re right.” It’s all good advice, but it’s tough to swallow when someone repeatedly points out your mistakes. Be humble, Maya. I repeat to myself. Be quiet and listen. Wisdom is more precious than rubies (Proverbs 8:11).

Love Goes Farther. Most importantly, I need to love My Neighbor. She has no family nearby, we can show her love with the gifts of time and an ear to listen.

So, I just sigh and anticipate the next lecture. She is a sweetie and besides, she makes really good home-made jam from her abundant fruit trees. I’ll take the jam please, and pay the bargain price of listening to wisdom.

Question: How do you react to unsolicited advice?  Are you graceful, or do you respond ungracefully?

related posts: Cheat the Church, Gurgles of Joy

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20 thoughts on “Love My Neighbor

  1. I know you will always be kind, Maya…..Sounds like a version of Aida, but Aida, of course, will always give good advice and make you like it. And, she would be cutting her lawn too if she had one when she gets to that age.

  2. I remember when you were a baby and did the 30 second, red-faced inhale. Gay and I would try everything to prevent it, to no avail. ;0)

    I get lots of unsolicited parenting (and marital advice, if you can believe it) from certain family members who shall remain unnamed. And I have to admit I’m not always gracious about taking it. I, too, have to constantly remind myself of all the blessing those same people bring to my life. it’s a work in progress.

    • LOL, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, does it?
      Yes, i totally agree with you! I briefly thought about posting about an unnamed family member, but knew they would find out! Good words and encouragement to remind ourselves of the blessings surrounding us. You are a wise woman.

  3. I think it comes so naturally for “experienced” moms to want to give advice. They honestly do know a lot about their own children. But alas, all children are different. When people give me unsolicited advice, like you, I just nod my head and smile and keep repeating in my head for myself to never do that to any young mom when I get older!! LOL!

  4. I find it very wearing, especially as some advice I have received is downright strange. However I just nod and smile (wanly)….but then do usually feel the need to vent to DH or my own mum…

    • LOL, I know, some advice is so strange! What’s funny is I’m sure I’ve tried to tell someone what I thought was best, and they probably went home to their DH and vented, “Can you believe she said that?!” Maybe that’s why My Neighbor was put on the earth – to teach me to keep my mouth shut. 🙂

  5. I think you have the right approach with this neighbor … Like you said, what can you do? She’s eighty & has no family nearby! Her heart is in the right place, but as a mom, I know it can be annoying to receive unsolicited advice 🙂

    • Thanks for the encouragement. When I was in my twenties, I would dream about being in my eighties and having the privilege to say whatever I want to and to not give a flip. Now in my thiities, I’m thinking that’s not just a good idea. Better to be wise and to have young ones come to you for advice. 🙂

  6. I usually nod alot also. Fortunately along with patience and then after the patience, there’s always an unexpected concern for emergency !! (never to be insensitive) just in case it is too long. By the way, how wonderful of you to be her neighbor !

  7. I love it when an elderly person gives advice and try to remember what God says about the silver haired person.Also I try to remember that I am going to be that age some day and try not to do the same thing.Sweet little blog you have here.I enjoyed it.

  8. What a great post, and what a great attitude. I really struggle with being kind when people thrust unsolicited advice upon me, even if their age and situation should inspire respect from me. I love your approach.

  9. You’re so gracious! I would likely respond the same way, go inside, and call my husband in an annoyed tizzy to vent to him. But that is what your spouse is for, right? You are partners in this parenting adventure. When we were planning our wedding I remember having a particular chat with my dad. “Advice” was coming in left and right. He said, “Just listen to what they have to say. Then respond, yeah, sounds great! And go and do whatever you want to do anyway.” Very similar to your reaction. I think that is the best way to handle those kinds of things. I mean sometimes there is a reason to stand up for yourself or your child, but for the most part, it is best to just let it go. If it is coming from a good place, like your neighbor, who is probably lonely and misses having young ones around, then letting it go is the best situation. Keep up the great work!

  10. Pingback: I Surf the Mommy Waves « Married With Twins

  11. I love this! I always try to respond graciously to unsolicited advice. Most of the time the “adviser” thinks they’re doing you a favor or trying to help. It’s best to smile, nod, and take it all with a grain of salt.

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