We moms are all supposed to be on the same team, right? But what about those times when you catch another mom giving you a sideways judgy glance – whether it’s because you just let your toddler eat a cracker off the floor or your preschooler is getting bullied by a bigger kid and you step in to reprimand the offender? In this series we’re talking about these sticky situations…the ones where you feel like you might be breaking some sort of unspoken rule – if only you knew what it was! Help us solve these tricky questions in the comments – sound off with your own opinions and let’s get some discussion going!
Have you heard the story about the father with the annoying children?
You know who I’m talking about, right? There’s this super-passive Dad and he and all four of his very rowdy, very obnoxious offspring are in (of ALL PLACES!), the Library. And, not just any Library, your Library. That’s right, the one you came to for an hour of peace. This time is, of course, the ONE TIME you come to the Library to actually flip through the magazines and browse your absolutely favorite section. (I won’t tell that you have a thing for Children’s Fantasy Novels). You’re just glad you aren’t attending Shake, Rattle and Roll for the 5 millionth time… (how many times do you have to sing “Itsy, Bitsy Spider” before it actually dies?).
Anyway, you can’t focus on your magazine article about how Jessica Simpson isn’t a size 4 anymore (and secretly this makes you feel better about your own post-baby body) because, those kids are bouncing off the walls. Literally. One child is taking board books and, that’s right, helping his toddler sister use them as a sled into the wall and bounce back. (Both children are destroying public property and screaming. Nice.) Yet, the father is just sitting there. He’s not even watching them. Well, they are in his line of sight, but he’s not doing anything.
The other two children are arguing over the hand puppets and one slaps the other one. Across. The. Face. More screaming.
You have completely forgotten that you still need to go over and snag your books because the Librarian has come out from (where ever it is that Librarians hide) and has started refereeing the whole mess. You’re trying to act like you want to see what is going to be fashionable for the Fall, but it’s like watching a train wreck. You can’t help but look. You can’t help but think that this man is what’s wrong with all men. They are passive. They don’t want to discipline. His wife has got to be in the bathroom and must be coming back soon to gain control of these hoodlums.
The Librarian finally approaches the father and asks him to please gain some control of his kids, or leave. You hear his response, “I’m sorry. I didn’t know where else to go. We just left the hospital. Their mother just passed away and I can’t bear to take them home yet without her being there.”
Something (not this heart-wrenching, but certainly close) happened the other day, and I found myself being such a brat. (As if I’m so fantastic.) In my head, all of these little judgments and critical remarks came to mind. I chattered with my girlfriends about it, may as well have pointed and laughed like a school-girl. And later, realized that I had no idea what had happened in that person’s life that day or that week. And really, I hope that someone would show me some love and understanding if I find myself in a train-wreck-type-mess. I later found out, that things were badly, really bad for this person and I was pointing and laughing. Nice one.
It’s so easy for us to criticize other parents, other people, other women (especially). We wonder why they are not helping, not being considerate of others, not acting “correctly”. We are quick to judge with labels like “rude”, “stuck-up”, “self-centered”, “inconsiderate”, etc. But, the truth is we don’t have the whole story.
It’s difficult to lovingly give the benefit of the doubt, when it seems like we have the whole picture. What is better, what is even wonderful is to, before we even hear the explanation of why, is to extend love and grace.
Have you recently put your foot in your mouth? We all want to help our own children play nice with others, but how can we, as moms, set a good example of “playing nice” and extend grace when someone commits a social faux pas? What are some mommy skills you’ve developed to navigate this sticky situation?