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Single Mom Slice Of Life: Try A Little Understanding

I just wrote the most absurd Facebook message ever.

Is it safe to assume that while we sweat out 116* weather, you’re going to be busy battling a hurricane? Perhaps we can have our chat once the weather makes up its mind for both sides of the union?”

Literally 30 minutes later came a Facebook posting regarding the hurricane in question:

“And here she comes…”

Please believe that because this just happened, I am still red in the face. Granted, I have never ‘battled’ a hurricane.  What others consider a heat wave is summer to me, and I’m fairly certain that of the four times I have physically touched snow, three of them were man-made.

Amazingly, understanding (or lack thereof) and ignorance seemingly go rather well together no matter how old or how well-meaning you may be.  As I am currently seated next to both I can assure you, what we sometimes instantly write off as stupid or moronic may in fact be innocence at its worst – and it isn’t always in regard to weather related topics.

A great friend of mine had a friend die recently, first thought to be a suicide. In an unthinking manner I repeated my personal views on suicide only to find out upon further discussion that, perhaps because I’ve never contemplated such an act myself, I should be more careful in spouting off my views.  As it was explained to me, it is by no means an easy decision to make, nor can it be considered, as many do, ‘an easy way out’.

When yet another friend was telling me her list of “honey-do’s” given to her by other family members and I suggested she simply “just say no”, she told me that there were a few people, including myself, that she would never say no to.

If we each donated a penny every time we heard the phrase, “You learn something new every day”, the national debt would not be an issue.  If we each took a moment to realize exactly how true that is, there would be a lot more understanding in our world.

Even at the ripe old age of 37, I continue to learn, think without speaking, and provide advice without knowing.  I also know we all do it.  We may not mean to, but we do.

Today’s post isn’t about trying to curb that process; that would be insane.  We’re human, we make mistakes, it’s what we do.  Instead, I’m hoping for more consideration of the other side.

I have an uncanny ability to take even the smallest comment as either the biggest criticism or the most well-meaning compliment in the worst possible way. I have incredible friends and family who are working with me to change that.  As soon as I say something proving that I have construed something incorrectly, they let me finish my thought,  look at me  and with a knowing look say, “or…. That’s my key to find another way to interpret what was just said.

“I cannot believe you guys are so pissy about me working the weekend to make sure everything gets caught up and done no matter what I’m giving up to make it happen…” suddenly becomes, “Or… I am very lucky to work with friends who care about my emotional well-being and want to make sure I don’t burn myself out.”

Even as I shame myself about the texts and messages I sent during hurricane season, I can’t help but pause and consider how many other things would be different if we were to take a beat before responding, if we look at life from another perspective besides our own, if we remember there are other versions of life besides the one to which we have a front row seat.

What happens if, instead of cursing at the person who cut us off at the speed of light, we remember the last time our alarms didn’t go off on time, the hot water stopped mid-shower, and the car took FOREVER to turn over?  Were we really so courteous on the road that day?

Instead of rolling my eyes each time Dominic complains about the teacher who refuses to help him, I should remember my own days in the land of teenage martyrdom. Was Mr. Watts really a bad Algebra teacher or was I just bad at math? (I have proof, I really am just bad at math). Was the lady that just hung up on me really rude or had I just asked a question I already had the answer to? (In my defense, the fine print was REALLY fine.)  Were my parents seriously, uber-strict, or were they just trying to raise seven kids the best way they knew how? (Welllll…)

Listen, I’m aware that this post isn’t anything new, in life or on the internet.  I’m just asking that we remember that nothing is always as it seems.  (For instance, yes, Arizona is a dry heat, but so is an oven; at some point 116 is just HOT.)

Try it.  If it doesn’t work, or that person really was a jerk, or your niece was so excited that she forgot that a hurricane is a pretty huge deal, you can say, you told me so.

Until then, break the mold.  Be the person who realizes first that there are a lot more good things that happen in a day than there are bad… it just takes a practiced eye to find them.

Wendy Syler Woodward, 37, has been a single parent for 10 years, with two boys ages 11 and 16.   Originally from southern California, Wendy moved her family seven years ago to Phoenix where she manages a law firm for work, writes for fun, and is preparing to go back to college before the end of the year. 


  1. Lynda V

    August 29, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Such an important perspective to remember. It would probably be an impossible and exhausting task to try to always, every single time, put yourself in someone else’s position, but if we each did it once a day, it would become a habit. It would also make the world a lot nicer. I once had something I loved stolen. My perspective has become, “If someone needs to steal from me, then they probably need it more than I do.” That perspective is healther for me because I no longer focus on the anger. That said, I’d still prosecute if they ever caught the person. But maybe the key you have unlocked really is about self: if one changes their perspective it helps you accept the current situation without anger or frustration, and that’s healthier for you, regardless of the rude person who just cut you off.
    Thanks yet AGAIN for an insightful post!

  2. Irene

    August 29, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    Neutral is a color I do not wear!” TV Lands Hot in Cleveland

    Last night I was watching a Hot in Cleveland moment (great tv show gems btw) and when I heard one of the actresses say that I was like yep…that is me!

    This morning I was messaging a friend that just got hit by Irene…when I said…”Yep, been working up a storm this weekend..”

    I’ve never known a foot I cannot put in my mouth…so I love your post…because we could all do better….and this weekend was one of those reasons why we should.

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Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

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