You bruised my heart. I was emotional, and broke down in my car for a solid 20 minutes because of the hurtful words you said. I was crushed that someone would say something like that to another person. You don’t know me. You don’t know my heart. You don’t know the things I have experienced in my life that make me want to parent the way I intentionally do, nor do you know the things I am actively working with my kids on. You don’t know my kids. You see them making noises, and that bothers you. I get it. It bothers me sometimes too. But I’m working with them in MY way. I am their mother, not you! You don’t get to critisize me as a mother, or my kids, because let me tell you…. you are dead wrong. You are making a harsh snap judgement, and I urge you to avoid that, because let me tell you… my snap judgement on you isn’t very positive. But truthfully, if kids laughing is bringing you so much displeasure, you have bigger problems than I do, so I will be praying for you!
If you see a mother in the store with 3 kids, and it looks like she isn’t paying attention, instead of scolding her, why not presume the best in her. You have NO idea what the last 5 minutes of her life looked, or what the next 5 minutes would look like, and wouldn’t it be a shame if the straw you added to her back broke her? What good does that do anyone? Nothing! So what’s the point? To make your voice heard? Well guess what… your opinions don’t always need to be heard (gasp!). True. Your opinions belong to one person, and here’s a hint… it isn’t me.
So what happened?
I shared in my instagram stories on Saturday, but incase you missed it… here’s a brief synopsis, and don’t worry… I share some tips at the end!
On Saturday, I felt the urge to make new stockings, so like any “sane” mother, I loaded up the minivan with my 3 “spirited” kids, and jetted over there! Plus, I was kind of dying to see all their cute Christmas decor, and see if they had any Halloween stuff left on sale. I digress… I went to Hobby Lobby.
We headed straight for the fabric, because I know I have a time limit with these kiddos. I am usually pretty proud of their listening and behavior, so most of the time I reward them with 5 minutes to look at the toys. And they LOVE it. It’s so cute! Well this time, I had to ask them several times to stop taking bolts of fabric off the lines, stop running into the stroller, to sit in the stroller, to be a little more quiet, to stop eating Hallie’s goldfish, to just say hi to the birdies on the shelf, to stop talking to loudly, etc etc etc. So I let them know if I had to ask one more time, they would loose their privilege of looking at the toys. They settled a little, and I was finally able to zero in on the perfect fabric!!
So I take it to get cut… this is where all hell broke loose and I didn’t even realize it. As this woman was cutting my fabric, we found out that we went to the same church. Meanwhile, my kids are near the end of their attention span, and are being a little silly. The lady cutting my fabric smiled at them with adoration, as did a few other ladies (which is pretty typical), so I didn’t bother to really say anything further to them. They weren’t being disrespectful to anyone, they weren’t touching store items, they weren’t (really) running, or making eachother mad… they were making weird noises and laughing at each other. Annoying, yes, but sweet to see them laughing together.
As we finished up, we said thank you to the lady at the fabric counter and proceeded to check out, without looking at the toys. They didn’t throw a fit or anything because they knew they had made some not so awesome choices. Anyhow, we get out to the car and I’m loading in my precious cargo, when out of my peripheral I see this elderly woman standing near the back of my car. I find myself wondering if she lost her car, can’t find her keys, lost something in the store, etc etc. As I finish loading in the kids, and go to get in, she stops me and says “my daughter has a child and they would never yell in a store”.
At this point, I’m still clueless, and am wondering where this is going.
I start to think to say “oh boy, I need to learn some of her tricks” ( just trying to keep stranger talk light right?)… and she continues.
“I had two kids and I never went in public until I knew they could behave… you really should stay home until your kids can behave.”
WHAT THE ACTUAL HECK?!!!
I was dumbfounded that a perfect stranger would go out of their way to throw a damper on my day and criticize my parenting. As a mom, wrangling 3 kids is NOT easy! Especially when their wills are strong and their little bodies are extremely active!
I still tried to keep things as polite as possible and let her know “it would serve her well to mind her own business” and she let me know that “it becomes her business when she can’t even shop at a store without my kids bothering her.” I let her know that the way she was behaving was insanely inappropriate and that as a mother, I would think she would show more compassion and care to other mothers, especially when she doesn’t even know the situation at hand at all. She started walking off and said “I don’t need to respond to this, I’m a retired teacher, and they need to learn to behave before they go off to school!”
Little does this precious woman know, my boys are both in school. Nolan is doing great, and is a joy in his class. And Davis is too. Davis has focus issues, that I am desperately trying to figure out. I have been in communication with his teachers, I volunteer in his class once a week, I have spoken to his pediatrician, his school counselor and gotten recommendations for other doctors to help him focus and have less anxiety.
It felt so unfair to be judged so harshly for something this woman has NO clue about. I am so imperfect, just like every other mother out there! My claim isn’t that I have all the answers or am perfect. Not at all! However, I do claim that I work as hard as I can just like all the other mothers I see out there. We are all learning this role for the first time. Everyday it’s something new, and nobody fully prepares you for the harsh realities that await you as you enter parenthood… how could they?
So, through all of this, you want to know my take aways and tips?
First, if you see a mom in a store with young kids, be a source of good. Because lets face it, she’s probably seen more opposition from those tiny humans than she deserves. Let your face be a happy face to lift her spirits. Through a silient nod, tell her that her kids are adorable, let her know that she’s doing a good job… anything to lift or elevate her!
Second, if you see someone saying something negative… go and be a source of good to pad that poor mamas heart.
Third, reserve ALL judgements, and know that your opinions do NOT need to be heard if they are going to tear someone else down. Tearing people down will not make anything better.
Fourth, BUILD YOUR TRIBE!!!
After I had this experience, and took to my IG stories to break down and vent, I had NOTHING but insane amounts of love pour out to me, friends calling to check in on me, messages letting me know that i AM a GREAT mother, and to not let this hurt me. I had such a hard time fully feeling that in the moment, but deep down I knew what they were saying was true.
If I didn’t have the tribe of insanely good women in my life, I really believe this could have really wrecked me for a very long time, but I’m so grateful that I spoke about it, and I had love fill my soul. Find your tribe, band together with them! If you need a tribe like this, please message me! Nobody should have to experience these highs and lows of parenthood alone, and you don’t have to!
I keep having this quote come to mind from Margaret Nadauld :
“Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity.”
As women, we have so many things pulling at our time and attention. Wouldn’t it be a shame if we let the wrong sources win? If we let evil win? We don’t need to be tough women who are course, we need to be women that are tender and kind. We need to show our kids through example what it means to stand in the face of the advesary and say “NOT TODAY SATAN!!!!”
Let’s be women who are good, tender and kind, and try to spread that like wildfire! We need more of that in our communities! When we as women band together to support and empower each other, seriously amazing things happen!
I love you babes, and am so grateful for your love!!!