Saturday, February 13, 2010

Confessions of a Wounded Mom

When I could have used encouragement, I received criticism.

When I could have used prayer, I received judgment.

When I could have used understanding, I received accusations.

Late this afternoon, my daughter Rachel came to me asking if we could 'go somewhere.' She was a little tired of being cooped up at home. I had a couple things I have been wanting to find, so we headed to the store.

I had Noah with me as well, and in recent weeks he has developed a dislike for shopping carts. He's two, after all, and would rather wander aimlessly discovering all the treasures on store shelves than to be strapped into a cart. I have found that letting him sit in the bigger part of the cart versus the traditional seating spot has helped.

Except for today.

We didn't get very far into the store and he was screaming to get out of the cart. I calmly, yet sternly, looked him in the eye and told him he needed to stop screaming. He stopped briefly, then resumed his wailing. I was going to round the corner, accept this toddler tantrum as defeat and head out of the store to go home.

But that's when I heard it.

The voice of an older woman on the other side of the aisle spouting, "Some people shouldn't be parents."

I was startled. I was dumbfounded. And I was hurt.

I approached her and said, "Excuse me, did you have something you wanted to say to me?"

The woman, obviously shocked by the confrontation, attempted to walk away while telling me I should take my child home for a nap. As I began to respond to her judgmental statement, she continued to reprimand me as she rushed off, blurting something about raising four children herself and the voice of criticism drifted through the stale retail air.

Normally, I would probably just let those statements roll off my back and tell myself the woman has no basis for her accusations.

But instead, I buckled my kids in the van and sobbed all the way home.

Because frankly, this week has been a tough one to be a parent.

To sit in a surgeon's office and plan a surgery for your two-year-old that will follow with a biopsy is no picnic.

To have your son's kindergarten teacher approach you about behavior issues for the third time in two weeks is not a walk in the park.

To comfort a daughter who is heartbroken to be left off the 'guest list' of a classmate's birthday party is humbling.

So to be honest, yeah, there were times this week I didn't know if I should be a parent. Sometimes it's just plain hard. And you wonder if you're doing things right. You second-guess yourself constantly. You debate whether you can even handle it.

And the one thing you hope beyond hope is that you're not screwing it all up.

So when someone comes along and implies that you are, it is almost too much to take.

So please. Think twice before passing judgment on a mother having a 'moment' with her kids. You don't know what her week was like. You just can't know what she's been facing. Instead of a roll of your eyes, why not give her a word of encouragement.

Perhaps what's even more sad about the entire encounter is that the woman was at the store with what appeared to be her own grown daughter. Someone who may already, or someday, be a mother.

It's very likely she'll have a child throw a tantrum in public sometime, too. Will she remember the words she heard her own mother say to a complete stranger?

Maybe it won't matter. Maybe it won't come to mind at all.

But what if it does?

That woman's words ring in my head and I feel hurt. But her words may scream failure to her own child one day.

So I prayed for her. It's what I do for my children. Perhaps today God needed me to pray for someone else's too.


  1. Just as our behavior does not adequately reflect the "parenting" of our Father in heaven, our children's behavior does not adequately reflect what type of parent we are. You are not a failure. Praying for her is a good choice. It sounds like praying for her children might not be a bad idea either.

  2. Maxine,

    If there is one thing I have had to learn lately (still learning) is to stay confident in Lord. I bring my thoughts and decisions before the Lord and ask Him to move me if I need to be moved.
    It is so hard when you receive criticism about your parenting, in my case from the ones I thought love me the most. It's a spiritual battle no less! Satan would just love for us mothers to second guess everything and doubt ourselves all the time. At that point I realize I am self focused and getting in the way of what God is doing.
    I have to keep telling myself that HARD does not mean WRONG. You may be dealing with some hard times with your kiddos but it gives many opportunities for good. The way you reacted to that yucky lady will be a good example to your children, praying for that evil mean woman changes your heart for the good, telling your readers gives us insight on how we can pray for you and encourage you, telling your husband gives him opportunity to comfort and protect you.
    Hard times will arise but try to see the good opportunities that could come from them. I realize little eyes are watching me 24/7 and the opportunities are endless.
    I pray you will be blessed with encouragement and a few extra hugs from your little ones.
    Stay confident in the one who destined you to have those children. No one could do a better job with your children than YOU!!!

    Show me a sign of your favor, that those who hate me may see and be put to shame because you, LORD, have helped me and comforted me. Psalms 86:17

    Psalms 86 has encouraged me so much lately. take time to read it.
    hugs from me!!!

  3. After raising 4 children myself, I would have to say it is one of two things. Either the lady was blessed with 4 perfect children or her memory has begun to fail. I suspect the latter. In that case, she needs your prayers. Your children will grow into fine adults. Her memory will only get worse.

  4. Isn't our enemy clever to hit us where it hurts the most? He's a sly devil.

    I wish you could pull away a bit and see all of this in the big picture. The woman was ridiculous, and I'm so sorry that you were in such a vulnerable place when she attacked you. The reality is that we can't predict our kids' behavior but we can have a plan for how to respond. Even then, there are times when we just do the best we can and cry on the way home. It doesn't mean you're a bad mom and not in control. No one walks in your shoes but you.