You had laser-like focus while trying to hear the cashier tell you the total so you could pay him the correct amount. You had to. Otherwise your three young children would have overrun your sanity with their yelling, bickering, and climbing.
I know you heard the cashier’s ridicule behind you exclaiming to another store patron, “she’s not even watching those kids!” I saw your listless eyes that gave us all the same glazed-over look as you turned to leave the store. Having only twice spoken during the trip–once to reassure the youngest child that you were in the next aisle and the second time to add your own reprimand to the cashier’s rebuke of your son climbing–you walked stoically out of the double doors in the wake of your children’s defiance.
I listened, apparently silently, in my own checkout lane to the clerk and two shoppers (all three looked to be over the age of 55) as they decried the decline in parenting skills in today’s generation of parents and the lack of obedience in their children.
“I’d wouldn’t be able to sit down,” the cashier stated, inviting others to join her in publicly scorning the now-absent mother.
“No, I was a military brat. My dad would have spanked me so hard I wouldn’t sit for a month.”
“They looked like pretty active kids,” I add meekly while trying to shield my two boys from the grumbling.
“Yeah, I was a military brat, too.”
“I’ll tell what it is. It’s all that technology they have today.” Then I started to drift away from the discussion, knowing it would only continue in that vein and hoping to get my own kids away from the negative tone of the conversation.
But it, really you, has been at the back of my mind today. I know what it’s like when you are frazzled or sick and you just need to mentally check out for few minutes, regardless of the chaos around you. What if you lashed out at your kids and screamed at them right there? They’d still talk
I’ve called my husband and cried out to God in tears, in pain, in frustration, hoping that talking will help me redirect and get my emotions in check so that we can all survive the long afternoon hours fairly unscathed. Maybe you’ve had to shut down so much that your kids have taken your silence to mean approval or at least acceptance of their behavior. Maybe you don’t have a caring husband, or anyone in your life, who’s able to give you 15 minutes of support. Maybe your kids don’t have a loving father to discipline them when they cross the the line. Maybe the kids don’t even know where the boundary is. However, I do know that even if you are using all the proper parenting skills, your kids have the free will to choose their behavior.
I know that you don’t need one more person to make snide remarks about you or your kids regardless of if you are standing within ear shot or have already departed. I’m not that person. I wish I could have figured out how to somehow encourage you in that moment. I didn’t, and for that I am sorry.
To every parent facing another battle with your kids, your self, you life, and the mockers on the sidelines: Do your best. I know of only one who can you always cry out to, the only one who can handle all your emotions.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)