Yesterday afternoon, I took Eliza to Target with me, while Jeremiah stayed home with the other kids. I'd washed our sheets earlier in the day and as I went to put them back on our bed, I realized that they were ratty and I just couldn't stand it any longer. We needed new sheets...nice, white, crisp sheets. And so, Eliza and I rolled the windows down, blasted the music and drove the long way, which winds us through the farm fields.
We shopped, found the white sheets I was looking for and of course, found a few other things that weren't on the list, like two 85% dark chocolate bars that just happened to be on sale. We headed out of the store, determined to be home for dinner and as I loaded Eliza back into the car, I couldn't help but overhear the Mom next to me, also loading her kids into a car. She had two kids, one was a baby and one was maybe Judah or Paisley's age. Her oldest was giving her a horrible time, which now that I've been a Mom for 5 years, I realize even the best kids do. I'm sorry, but even the best Mom is going to have her share of public humiliation. It's inevitable. You might do your best, but I've realized that we are raising humans, not puppets.
So, here's where it got good. Normally in a parking lot, it's the impatient Moms yelling at their kids that stand out, they make me cringe and then feel I guilty because I know that I too, am so flawed. But in this situation, this sweet Mom was kind and patient and she was like a bright light at Target. She was gentle, stern, she had a calm voice and although her kid wasn't having it, she was holding it together like a pro.
As I finished buckling Eliza in, I felt God nudge me and tell me to give her one of those dark chocolate bars that I'd just bought, you know the ones that weren't on the list, but they were "on sale". At first, I shrugged it off, I mean, how crazy would it be to offer a complete stranger some chocolate? I closed Eliza's door slowly, listening to this Mom dealing with her kids, I walked around to my door, got in, buckled, closed my door, but I just couldn't shake it. God wanted me to get out and tell her that I noticed how kind and patient she is and to give her my chocolate. And so, I unbuckled, reached into my bag and opened my door back up.
Her window was rolled down and as her car backed up, I walked over and said "I know this might sound weird, but do you like dark chocolate? I noticed how kind and patient you are with your kids and I wanted to give this to you. I have a 3 year old and a 5 year old at home and I know how hard mothering is. You're really sweet with your kids." She smiled so big at me and said "thank you so much" and with that, she drove away and we drove back home.
I think what makes me want to do those little things more often is that I know first hand how hard parenting can be sometimes and I'm the gal who always dreamed of this. I have a supportive husband and healthy kids. Imagine what it must be like for the lady who doesn't have a support system, who's raising kids with significant disabilities or for the young mom who thought she wouldn't be called "Mama" for another 10 years?
When I'm out, it's normal for me to see Moms losing their cool and seeing this gal stay calm, even when it was hard was so refreshing. It's weird to me that we get so scared to give another Mom a word of encouragement. We are flat out scared to be encouragers. We'd all rather stay in our comfy little boxes, where we don't talk to strangers, but we NEED to call each other out on the good stuff. We need to be bold and say "I know it's hard and I see you doing a great job."
A few photos from our life lately: