This post has been on my heart for quite some time now.
It all started two months ago during Mass. My family and I were sitting in the cry room (my three year old has been having trouble sitting through Mass lately, hence the cry room) in the back row enjoying the service when a woman and her young daughter took the seat in front of us. From the moment this woman entered the pew her little girl was crying, not really crying more like screaming. It was obvious the mother was extremely embarrassed and frustrated. Her daughter looked to be around the age of 5? I couldn't tell for sure how old she was because she never spoke. No matter what this mother did her daughter continued to scream. The mother was calm at first but as the minutes ticked by she became more and more frustrated. Sitting her daughter roughly in the pew, speaking sternly and sharply to her, etc.
I did my best to pay attention to Mass so I would not add to her embarrassment (it is an awful feeling when all eyes are on you and your child is misbehaving). I began to silently pray for his woman. "Lord please grant her patience, help her to see beyond her child's misbehavior, please help her".
There was another woman in the pew with this struggling mother who also recognized she was having a hard time. It was during the sign of peace that I witnessed a very beautiful moment. The woman on the left of the struggling mother reached out and touched her shoulder gently and gave her a warm smile. The struggling mother smiled with relief and said quietly, "It has been a rough day".
It is so easy to judge. Instead of a caring gesture, the woman to the left could have passed judgment, instead she offered hope and encouragement through a smile.
If you have ever had a misbehaving child in public you know what it feels like to be judged.
It reminds me of a time recently when I took my two young boys to the small quiet grocery store in town. My three year old began to throw a HUGE fit because he wanted a treat. If you want to talk about a bad place for my child to misbehave, this would be it. I think if you listened closely you would be able to hear a pin drop, the store is that quiet.
When my son is throwing a fit he is very determined and LOUD. The entire store was filled with his screaming. Even though I really wanted to shove my items onto a random shelf and cover my face, I calmly and quickly grabbed the last few items on my list and stood in the checkout line while he continued to throw a fit. I saw numerous judgmental stares and a few understanding smiles. Those understanding smiles were worth a million dollars! The last thing I needed in that moment was judgment. I can still see the grocery store owners wide eyes as he rang up my items.
I cried on the way home, telling myself I would avoid that store for a couple years to avoid anyone recognizing me!
What I'm trying to say is, I know raising children isn't always easy. I know you are tired momma. I know you need a break and it has been a rough day. I know you need a smile.
Next time you see a struggling mother, show her understanding instead of judgment.
To the mother with the screaming child: it's ok, I have been in your shoes and I know you are doing your best.