I needed water, mushrooms, salad and bananas. My four year old daughter just got done horse-back riding and I was going to head to the gym, after my quick stop to Wal-Mart of course. Inside, I find all that I was looking for and it just so happens that my children are behaving better than average today. My son was being as sweet as he could be and my daughter was just plain too tired to do much of anything else. As I am checking out, this lady behind me is just ogling over my children. I am slightly flattered at first, but something made me uneasy about this. She goes on to say things like, “Your kids are just so good. So many other kids would be yelling and fighting. I mean, they are just so patient.” I smiley nicely, thanking her for the kind words, but am all the while thinking of other mom’s right now whose kids are screaming and being judged for not being a good enough parent. She insists again on telling me just how good my children are.
I smile again and laughingly say, “You just caught them in a good hour! They have their fits just like all other kids!”
She smiles, but I realize that I am not convincing her that my kids aren’t above the rest.
I finish paying and politely say, “Thank you” to both cashier and kind-lady behind me.
Walking out to the car, it’s a warm, sunny day.
My son is pleasantly pleased that his mommy got him more “nanas” and is sweetly and, yes, patiently, asking to hold the plastic bag with the “nanas.”
All the while, I am thinking about how to keep this plastic bag away from him. I get to my car and I pick my almost 2 year-old son up first. He is so unpredictable that he always gets put into his car seat before my daughter.
As I am bent over loading him, he continues with his little sweet smiles of bananas. I finish buckling the last buckle on the car seat and I figure out how I can grant this little boy’s request without presenting a choking hazard! I take the bananas out of the bag and place them on his lap. He is happy and I am happy to see him happy.
Victory! Another problem solved by mom!
I stand up straight and go to fetch my daughter out of the cart just to find this older lady in a bright pink windbreaker, dyed blonde hair grabbing my daughter, saying, “Where is your mommy?”
I calmly walk the six feet, not quite grasping what is happening and proceed to get chewed out by this woman, telling me that she can’t believe I would neglect my daughter and let her fall.
I think to myself that she obviously doesn’t know that I was just dealing with my other child, trying to prevent a possible choking scenario and I calmly respond with, “Thank you. I was buckling my son in … I have two kids.”
“That doesn’t matter.” She proudly replied, “I have three and I NEVER left my kids alone. I can’t believe you neglected her. She could have been hurt.”
Mind you, my daughter just got done riding a 1,100 lb. horse … something she has done many times before. She holds her balance quite well, standing in the basket part of the cart will not hurt her. The kid can climb trees (and thank God for that, that she is not watching tv all day or playing video games. The dexterity and confidence that builds in a child is immeasurable!)
I go on tell her, “She is fine. She is very sure footed but thank you for your concern,” as I kiss my daughter’s forehead.
I must have really ticked this lady off. She goes on to tell me what a horrible mother I am and storms off, probably ready to brag to her bridge friends about how she just saved an innocent young girls life from another absent-minded mother.
I am livid at this point. I mean shaking mad. I buckle my daughter in. Lost, seeing red. Thinking of all the things I could respond to this so-called social justice warrior.
I start to drive off, but the thought of me lying in bed tonight, being so frustrated with myself for not saying what I wanted to say was something I was not willing to live with.
So I pull right back into my old parking spot. Hands shaking from the anger, I start rehearsing all of the things I want to tell her.
But, I am worried about something bigger. Something more important than my ego and hurt feelings.
I calm myself and resolve my response.
A short three minutes later, she emerges. I spot her. I get out of my car.
She notices me and looks away.
Our strides bring us closer and closer until finally I am at her car (right next to mine).
“You know,” I said, “the Bible says that if we have ought with our brother, we should do what we can to make peace with that person. I felt that the way you came across to me was very condescending and judgmental.”
“Well I don’t care what you think. How stupid can you be. To leave your child there, to get hurt.” She replies.
“But she is fine, ma’am” I respond. “I know my…”
“I am 70-something year old woman” she interrupts. “I never would do that to my kids. If you would have just said ‘thank you’ and apologized, things would have been fine, but you didn’t” She spews hatefully. More words come from her mouth but I can’t hear them at this point. I am waiting for a chance to reply and then she says, “You stupid, ignorant person.” BAM! Slams the car door shut.
I have nothing else to say to her. Besides her door is shut.
Now, I am thinking about this. How can she not see the bigger picture. Why is judging another person more important?
But more importantly, there is something else at hand. She accused me of not saying, “Thank you.”
I know I did because the words were so hard to cough up at that moment, I felt the weight of them as they rolled off my tongue. I felt my pride squashed under the load of the heavy attempt of humility and grace in the face of pride and hatefulness.
This lady didn’t care about my kid, she wanted to prove something, that she was better than someone. Apologizing to her would never in the world of physics and the laws of gravitational pull, stop my daughter from a possible fall.
She didn’t care. She wanted to make someone mad, steal someone’s peace, be a self-proclaimed hero and ultimately tear somebody down. She wanted to steal, kill and destroy. Operating as a tool of the Adversary.
Those were her motives. Period.
So, the next time you see a mom … please don’t be so quick to judge. All kids need equal amounts of attention to keep them from dying. As I was trying to assess my son’s needs and prevent a possible choking scene, I was being accused of neglect. While I was buckling my baby in, leaving my daughter in the cart so she WOULDN”T get hit by a car, I am being told that I am a stupid, ignorant person.
There is so much hate and judgment in the world. Let’s stop and think about our approach before we go all vigilante on someone. Let’s be kind and patient with one another before we confront a situation. You don’t always know the full story. What is your motive to approach someone, is it out of genuine love and care or do you need to make yourself feel better by putting someone else down?
I mean, are we aware of how our scrutiny is affecting people’s ability to parent? Are we thinking our actions through about how this will have a domino effect on society? This behavior has got to stop. Couldn’t she just express her concern and forgive me? Would it have been so hard to just say, “I understand. I had three kids once. Just thought I would help.”
Nope. I had to be punished by her.
Five minutes before this woman tells me what a terrible mother I am, I am awkwardly being praised by another woman for the impeccable behavior of my children in the store, all the while not wanting the glory because, that too, felt like judgment.
The irony was too good to pass up.
And for argument’s sake, this lady is a stranger to my child. Why was she touching my child? How do I know that she doesn’t have some infectious disease or isn’t going to take my baby? Because she didn’t and was simply trying to protect? Well, I was simply trying to protect my son and while doing so, I did it while keeping my daughter safe in a cart so she wouldn’t get hit by a car.
So, finally, I have concluded, hot-pink blonde lady, that you are just an angry person out to control your environment, which today included my parenting behavior.
But above all, I have to entrust my kids to God. Until I grow one or two extra set of arms, have eyes on all sides of my head and can control everything and all of their decisions for the rest of their lives, then yes, I will have to have my back to them at some point. And it’s not because I am bad, neglectful parent. It’s because I am human and my kids are human. They are and will be making decisions for the rest of their lives and it’s my job to help them make good decisions, learn from the bad ones and keep them in touch with the reality of natural consequences.
That is my job as a parent. My God-given role as a parent. Not your fear-driven, out-of-touch with reality ideal of parenting.
In fact if she is such a good parent, please hot-pink lady, be a foster parent or go on missions trips to help kids that desperately need love, attention, food and water. And if you see a possibly dangerous scenario, help with a heart of love and compassion, not hate and murderous, self-righteous judgment.