I've been babysitting 3 of my out-of-state grandchildren while my son and his wife are out of the country--a five year old, three year old and 11 month old. Wow! What I've been learning! The first couple of days were hard. Very hard. The three year old is a strong-willed child who does not understand the concept of taking turns or sharing. I was not enjoying myself and not acting like myself. I was grouchy, short tempered, felt picked on and started harboring and thinking negative thoughts.

I felt bad about my feelings and called one of my daughters. I was so frustrated-- at ME-- not my grandchildren. I was discouraged with myself that at my age, I still am having negative, mean thoughts, that I can't control my anger, that I'm judging and coveting. STILL. When am I going to improve and get over my weaknesses?

My daughter told me that I wasn't going to perfect them in this life. That they are my struggles andweaknesses and I have to deal with them my whole life--but that's normal. Yes, I can improve, but they will always be my demons.

For some reason that made me feel much better. Oh. It's a lifelong process. I'm not a horrible person.
Yes, I'm having problems again with my feelings and attitudes, but I can nip them in the bud quicker
now, than I did several years ago.

Another thing that happened to me, was several people validated that, yes, I had a difficult three
year old to deal with. Yes, it is very hard on you.

Once I was validated, and once I realized that I'm not a horrible person, I immediately felt better and
immediately became my cheerful, fun loving, creative grandma-self again. When my grandson started
yelling and crying, I could change the atmosphere just by doing silly things to distract him. One time I
yelled, "Oh my gosh, there's a dinosaur outside!". Then I rushed outside with two little boys following
me and suddenly we were outside playing and having a good time.

The daughter I talked with was having a hard time herself. She is a nanny for a little boy who is having
difficulty in the potty training area. She felt frustrated, mean and horrible like me. Then the father and
mother of the boy got a little more involved and said how hard the situation was and immediately, my
daughter felt validated. The situation didn't change, but now she could deal creatively and cheerfully
with it again.

Validation is magical! How cool is it, that when a situation doesn't change, but we are validated in
the difficulty of it, then we become able to continue to face the challenge with new strength and

Who can I validate? I'm going to be a better listener, and instead of trying to solve someone's problem, I'm going to validate that they truly are having a difficult situation.

"Your husband works nights and you never get to see him that much? That must be really hard."

"You've been trying to find a new job for months and can't find anything? That must get

"You've been trying to lose weight, but nothing seems to help? That's so frustrating."

Validation. Miracle cure.

Cathy Shepherd is a recent widow, mother of 7, grandmother of 16 and music teacher to hundreds.  She is recently retired from teaching music at school, but still teaches private piano lessons as well as a mom/tot music class with retired citizens.  Cathy teaches chimes to a preforming group of children and takes banjo lessons with the hope of being good enough to jam with others soon.  Cathy states that out of her 16 grandchildren, only two live in her hometown - which makes traveling to visit her children and grandchildren most enjoyable.  Cathy was the 2012 Arizona Mother of the Year.