Monday, January 26, 2009

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Beano, age 6 weeks
Do your kids ever throw fits in public?
Do they ever run out in the parking lot behind an SUV that is pulling out only to have a perfect stranger yell at said SUV driver to make him stop, therefore saving the life of your child?
Do they stay awake at night thinking of other ways to annoy or embarrass you in public?
Oh, good, mine either.
Well, almost never.
Except once last week.
And again today.
Last week Beano almost died. I did not even see it coming. We were at a field trip with some other home school families in a tiny town in a tiny post office. I had borrowed a stroller from another mom and when we were packing up to leave I walked over to her car to load her stroller. The next thing I know some guy is yelling and an SUV is slamming on his breaks and Beano is running merrily along his way to our car, totally oblivious to the fact that that yell just saved his life. As you can imagine I was a little flustered. I was glad beyond measure for the good hearted fellow who saw the life of my 5 year old in danger and acted accordingly. As I made sure all the kids were in the car I looked at the man square in the eyes and said, "Thank you." I wanted him to see how grateful I was for his kindness. In reply he rolled his eyes at me as he got into his huge truck and very sarcastically said, "Ya, good luck with that" as he slammed the door and quickly pulled out of the parking lot, leaving me staring in shock and confusion as to what had just taken place.
He had saved my child's life.
I was grateful, yes.
But in the same moment I was so hurt.
In his ever so brief come back I felt the judgement of the world that said,
"You have too many kids for your own good"
"Hey lady, why don't you watch your kid!"
"What kind of mother are you, anyway?"
"Why aren't those kids in school, where they belong?"
As I drove home my mind raced. I imagined what would have happened if that man had not been there. I imagined the tortuous guilt I would have felt my whole life if the worst had actually happened. I lamented over what that man thought of me. In that moment I felt totally inadequate.
I cried a lot.
I don't think I have ever felt so humiliated in all of my life, not even the time my slip fell down around my ankles in Sacrament Meeting.
And now on to today.
I went grocery shopping with all 4 kids.
I know, I know, that is just trouble waiting to happen. Actually, they are usually really good shoppers. The problem today was that it took way too much time and by the time we were done it was dinner time and everyone was hungry, especially Baby Cakes.
As we stood in the check out line he started to get really irritable.
He was tired and hungry and wanted to go home.
An older woman got in line behind me and talked to Baby Cakes and soothed him. She came up and talked to Beano and Dubs who were just on the verge of their own melt downs. She shared chocolate with them all. She spoke kindly and encouragingly to me.
She did not make me feel bad for having ornery children. She did not roll her eyes and make me feel like a nuisance. She was genuinely kind, her eyes literally sparkled. She probably has no clue how much her kindness helped me. She put my faith back in humanity. Her kindness comforted my heart and helped me to breath a little easier.
This evening I could not help but think of these two events. The reactions of these two strangers was glaringly opposite. One was judgmental and harsh and the other was kind and sincere.
Having been on the receiving end of both in less than a week I have to say I am floored.
Maybe I'm just hormonal, but it has really made me open my eyes and think a little more about the way I treat others. Not only perfect strangers, but my close friends and family as well. If perfect strangers can have those effects on us, then how much more can we have on our little ones.
They feel it when I am harsh and impatient.
They also know and respond when I am kind and gentle.
So to both of those strangers I say, "Thank you for opening my eyes just a little wider!"
Happy Tuesday, everyone! Visit The Lazy Organizer for more Talk about Tuesday.


The Lazy Organizer said...

What a lovely story. Even the ugly parts. I know my children are not alive today due to any competency on my part. It is only by the grace of God that they have survived this long and I pray they survive my parenting skills, or lack of, for many more years to come.

You are a wonderful mother!!

Sharida said...

Thank you! I needed your words today. It probably makes no sense to you, but I needed to know that even in this harsh and evil reality (the jerk at the post office) that there is goodness around. (The cute lady at the store.) Sometimes life just seems like it's going to pot but you do need (at least I need) that good heart to show me that there still is love in this world.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, I needed to be reminded of that. I too, had Trey just run out in front of a car, freaked me out completely.
I thank you are an awesome mom, and I wish I could be more like you!!! thanks everything!

Laurel @ Ducks in a Row said...

Oh sigh. . . there is so much more to being a mother than what you originally think. What a wonderful post.

Anjeny said...

Hi...first time visitor to your blog. That was a very beautiful post. I can relate in so many ways and I also want to thank you for posting this.

What people don't understand sometimes is that parenting is very hard, no walk in the park, and it's the only job/duty that does not come with a manual.

I can tell from your post that you are a great mom!! Don't let other very narrow minded people tell you otherwise.

Julie said...

I think a lot lately about how quickly my children are growing up and how I need to focus on loving them every day, even on days when they aren't happy. They won't be this little for very long.

Just one tall girl named Laurel said...

Aw-- sounds like a rough day; I'm glad everyone made it through alive. Some days that's all we can hope for, I suppose. I fear I've been an annoyed stranger before... in movie theaters as my seat is getting kicked, on subways and my personal space is being infiltrated, in the store when there are little ones seemingly everywhere and uncontrolable and not another adult in sight... But I try and remind myself, especially now that I work with 3 year olds in Primary, that nobody is perfect, and sometimes just making sure everyone makes it out alive is OK. You're a great mom. Don't let annoyed strangers ever make you doubt that; and even annoyed strangers step in when really needed-- including me. ;)

The Farmer's Wife said...

SUCH a good post! I needed to hear that too, thanks.