Thursday, December 19, 2013

On Filling Buckets


After I found out that my name and our blog ended up on the internet criticism site, I felt a little bit sensitive. I did a little googling to see if there were other negative mentions of me/us/our blog, and found just a couple, one of which I am certain was the same person that started the discussion about us on the internet criticism site. I wanted to go to every single comment that was made about us on the criticism site and elsewhere and be on the defensive, and then maybe leave a zinger to cut down those people. It all seemed so unfair and horrible, until I realized that it isn't really about me. If it were about me, those people would use the email address I provided and dialogue with me. They would get in touch and try to make a difference in the lives of my kids if they truly cared about them and felt they were in danger. But they didn't, at least not yet. I am still open to it. 

I think it's easy to criticize others anonymously. It means that you don't have to see them as human or worthy of your true consideration. It means that you can make assumptions and believe the worst, and many times no one will argue with you. And the truth of the matter is that I started to see my critics that way, too, and to talk about them that way with others, and that's not fair to them. I don't know them either. I don't know why they decided to write what they did about me and what hurts they might have suffered that would elicit such a strong response to what I have written. I don't know their stories, where they come from, if they are bored or lonely or stressed out. Maybe they have seen too much injustice in the world and don't know where to start to try to fix it. Maybe they just feel helpless or unheard or many other things that human beings feel, that we try to soothe in whatever way we can find to do it.

Recently, Zinashi's godmother sent her two books that have helped me immensely. They're children's books, but the concept is so simple and true. The first one is called Have You Filled a Bucket Today? and the second is Will You Fill My Bucket? The premise is this: that we can either do things to fill each other's emotional buckets or we can do things to dip out of them. The kicker is that if you try to dip out of someone else's bucket, you end up dipping out of your own as well. And if you fill another's bucket? You end up filling your own, too. So when I think about whether I want to berate others who have berated me, I think, "Well, their buckets are probably pretty empty. I won't dip. I'll fill."

This is hard, I'll admit. They dipped from my bucket, and my inner sense of justice says I should dip right back! Not to mention the fact that I'm not sure how to fill those buckets at all. But here's the thing: I intend to try. Maybe it will happen by simply letting go of my judgment of them and looking through kinder eyes. Maybe it will happen by continuing to do my best to put good out into the world. Maybe it will happen by sharing this photo of Zinashi looking surprised, which cracks her up, and which she wanted me to share with you. Maybe none of that will be good enough. But I'll keep trying. I'll keep working. I'll keep filling. I will*.



*Except that sometimes I will mess up. I already have, lots of times. But the point is to keep trying. Always keep trying.

10 comments:

  1. Sandra (from Portugal)December 19, 2013 at 1:51 AM

    I am so grateful to have find people like you in the internet, it makes me feel so acompanied in my process to adopt

    thank you for your sharing of such important thoughts nevertheless the criticism

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  2. Mary, I honestly feel that the major reason your children have thrived despite great odds is because you simply mirror goodness for them. From within yourself. They can't help but take that in and allow it to nurture themselves.

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  3. Good for you! It's a hard thing to do. I remember somehow finding one of those sites years ago and reading it just made me so unhappy. All those people! Being so mean and negative! I've never gone back.

    I think it's very generous of you to be so thoughtful to people being so heartless. I'm sure that your decisions will -- whatever else -- model kindness and generosity to your children, and in the end, that's what matters, right?

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  4. Thank you so much for all the ways that your writing and photos fill buckets. I am sorry that you have been hurt by the unkind words of people whose buckets are so empty they choose to anonymously attack people they have never actually met. Thanks to Zinashi for sharing the awesome picture.

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  5. Yep... when you just fill everyones... you become a filler of buckets and they don't get to decide for you if you are a dipper or a filler. Best to always decide beforehand who you are.

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  6. I think you're awesome. I love your blog. I think your children are lovely. Keep doing what you're doing. :)

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  7. oh pooh to them! (yes, you are a better person than me.) I promise I shall try harder to fill buckets, but really just blah to all those sad and angry people who misdirect their angst to others. love you and your family & your blog. you fill lots of buckets every time you post. oh, & please thank zinashi for sharing just a little bit of her wonderful self with us all, she is truly an amazing person. but then she has parents who are great examples for her :). hope you all have a fun filled & joyful time over the holidays. x jennifers

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  8. good on you! your blog is always one i make a point to read—you present a view on family life that's relatable and refreshing, and can just as easily tackle the tough questions as you can the great gelato debate (which is, come to think of it, a series of very tough decisions.). and your awesome pictures, like the one above, make me want to keep checking in ! - jillian

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  9. Yes, this is the way to go. I know from experience how hard it is, but keep on trying.
    I am going to look those books up. They sound amazing.

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  10. Oh my. One time I sent my blog to one of those criticism sites hoping it would help my writing. It was the worst thing ever. So terrible. I got some awful commenter troll people too and one wouldn't go away for the longest time. I'm not sure which one found you but I'm sorry and those people are the worst. Ugh.

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