A little later on I was checking out when I noticed the mom and dad checking out too. The little boy's mood was no different than twenty minutes ago. The mom looked defeated as her son ran away from her towards the door. The dad looked out of place trying to pay for his groceries while running after his son. These parents were exhausted. The boy was overtired. And the check out lady looked a bit annoyed by the noise the boy was making.
I quietly loaded my groceries in my bags but thought to myself how much I could relate to these parents. I tried to make eye-contact with the mom to let her know that she was not alone and that I understood how she was feeling in this awkward moment. I've had moments like this with both of my boys. How embarrassing to see your child throw a tantrum while you try very judiciously to handle the episode like you are in total control. Except, let's be honest, the attempt is futile because at least for that moment you feel like you have very little control and like you want to run far away from everyone's staring eyes!
I wanted to say something to this mom as she was walking out of the store but she averted her eyes from me. I've been there too. Looking off, avoiding everyone's stare and glare and their judgment on my parenting skills. I felt like I wanted to do something to encourage her but the opportunity just wasn't there. So I prayed.
Before I had children, I was judgmental towards "those" moms who looked frazzled dazzled and out of control with their children. Sometimes the fact is that parents don't always do a good job at well parenting. But I'm willing to bet that most of the time when you see a mom struggling in the store most likely she isn't one of "those" moms. Moms have bad moments. Children have bad moments. That's it.
So I say this: if you see a mom having a hard time with her child, extend grace and mercy to her especially if you are a parent yourself by offering a smile or a word of encouragement by sharing a simple statement like "I so relate to you right now!" "Hang in there." Grace and mercy are two of the sweetest gifts we can give to each other. Kindness goes a long way. Understanding and compassion are easy to give too when we put ourselves in other people's shoes.
Grace & Peace to you today! And may you experience grace, mercy, understanding, and compassion in your life.