Thursday, March 03, 2016

Dear Mother of Young Children

I saw you at the dentist's office today. Heard you telling your son to be quiet. You thought he was making too much noise by playing in the corner. Playing, that is, with the toy which was put there to help him pass the time while he waited for sister to get her check-up.
Just wanted you to know - the noise didn't bother me. And I don't think anyone else in the waiting room noticed it much, either. Truthfully, I'm pretty sure we all understood he would have rather been somewhere else, and was simply trying to occupy his time. None of us were thinking your son was too noisy, or that you're a bad mom.

I recall seeing you at the airport once. Remember the time your children - I think there were three of them - were holding onto the floor-to-ceiling pole and chasing each other around it?
Of course, you remember.
You were mortified by their behavior.
You told them to sit down and be still.
Told them to, Behave!
I wish I would have said this at the time, and I'm hoping somehow you'll see these words now: It's OK. Your children weren't bothering anyone by being children. In fact, I was pretty impressed that they were sticking so close to you! And, honestly? I thought their game was kinda cute.

I don't go out to eat very often, but I now I've seen you a few times at a restaurant. You have that certain look of nervousness, and often don't really seem to be enjoying yourself. Rather, you appear to be quite preoccupied with trying to keep your child quiet, and focused on the table in front of her.
I have to tell you, I don't mind when your daughter reaches over the booth and touches my head. She's just exploring. No harm done.
Oh, and when you notice me repeatedly peering in your direction, please know I am simply admiring your precious little guy. He's adorable and I can't get enough of those cheeks!

By the way, I didn't see you at the grocery store yesterday. But I heard you.
At least, I heard where you must have been.
That is, I heard your toddler screaming.
And I can only imagine how you must have been scurrying trying to quiet him down. Because you felt humiliated by the noise, and the appearance that you couldn't contain your child.
Can I just say, no one was more bothered by the outburst than you? Quite frankly, all the other moms in the store were just glad it wasn't our kid who was crying.

My point in writing this letter, Mother of Young Children, is to let you know the noises, the outbursts, and the carrying on aren't as bad as you think. Consider who's watching: moms like you are in the same boat and feel your pain; moms like me have been where you are and empathize with each moment; and anyone who is judging you probably never had children and doesn't have a clue. (Or they haven't had children yet, and will change their tune when the time comes.)
So, please, accept this offer of grace from me to you. Let it rest in your soul until you are convinced you're OK, even when your child is being noisy. And then, extend the grace to your little ones.
Cause they need it too!

Much love,

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