To the Lady Who Shook Her Head:
Do you remember me? I was the mom walking behind you yesterday. I know you wanted to turn around and stare. But you didn’t. I heard you ask your son “Who’s behind us?” He turned around, looked at us, and then told you it was 3 people. And then you shook your head. Maybe you were shaking your head because he didn’t give you the full description of us that you were looking for. Maybe you were shaking your head because you think I’m a bad mom. Or maybe my girls were getting on your nerves. You might have been thinking that if I would just discipline my girls then they wouldn’t act like that. Maybe you were thinking that you would never allow your children to act like that in public. I know your thoughts because 10 years ago I had those same thoughts. It was easy to have those thoughts when our older girls behaved perfectly every time we were in public. I had never walked in the same shoes that the mom with the misbehaving kids has to walk in. But I wear those shoes now.
I wish you had seen the strategy that we put into place earlier when we entered the building. You would have seen me come in with only one little girl. After I signed us in you would have seen a handsome man enter with another little girl who looks a lot like the little girl standing beside me. You would have seen us walk up the hallway just far enough apart so that our girls couldn’t hit each other. Then you would have seen our girls hug and kiss us and say “I love you” before they left with their therapists. You would have heard a therapist talk about how sweet and loving our girls are. And you would have witnessed the amazing look of victory on my face because we made it into the building without making a scene.
I wish you had seen what happened in the bathroom. I wish someone had seen what happened in the bathroom because I have no idea what happened. All I know is that I went into a stall and I told the girls to stand beside the sinks. And all of a sudden everything was out of control. They were hitting each other and yelling at each other. I wish you could have seen that I disciplined them and then I tried to convince them that they should be nice to each other. I wish you could have seen me take a deep breath as I pulled the bathroom door open. I wish you had known that the only thought in my head was to just get out of the building as fast as we could.
I wish you could have seen the man walking in front of us when our girls continued to make a scene. He never turned around. He never shook his head. If he judged us he did it privately. And then we rounded the corner and the girls got louder and more upset. And then we were behind you. I really wish you would have walked a little faster. The only thing that I had on my mind was getting out of the building and you were walking kind of slow. I wish that you had realized that the 3 people behind you have feelings. I wish you had realized that whispers, stares, and shaking your head only make my life harder.
I don’t know if you were still there when I leaned down to sign us out. But it was at that moment that one of my sweethearts hit the other sweetheart on the back of the head with a coloring book. You might not have seen it but there were many people who did. I was irritated and I was embarrassed. I probably turned about 50 shades of red. If you didn’t see it happen perhaps you heard the chaos as you were walking to your car.
I wish you could have heard me tell my husband about everything that had happened. I told him how much it hurt when you shook your head. I wish you knew how defeated I felt. And that I’ve cried many tears over the years because I just simply have no idea what to do. I wish that you knew that we are doing the best that we can for our family. But sometimes we have really bad days. Sometimes I’m angry because we’ve been given this life to live. Sometimes I feel like I can’t possibly do it anymore. And that’s how I was feeling yesterday when you shook your head.
I wish you could have seen how my day turned around when I got home and found a package in the mailbox. It was a book called The Life that Overcomes. I didn’t even know this book existed. A ministry sent it to us to thank us for supporting them. It’s not a coincidence that this book arrived when it did. The Lord knew that I was going to need some encouragement at the end of this day. He wants me to overcome my fear of what other people think of me. He wants me to choose to have a good day even when someone shakes their head at me. He wants me to learn to overcome my emotions and stop thinking that I can’t do this anymore. He wants me to learn to enjoy my life even when it’s hard, even when it’s out of control, and even when I can’t find much to be joyful about.
The next time you see a mom who’s struggling with her kids, could you do something for me? Could you smile and say something kind? Kindness can change her world. If you don’t know what to say, could you show kindness by letting her go in front of you? Could you say a prayer for her? Prayer can change her world too. And I would like to ask you to forgive me for being irritated with you for shaking your head. Because chances are that you walk in a pair of shoes that I don’t have to walk in. And I don’t understand your struggles any more than you understand mine.
The mom who was having a really bad day yesterday