During one of my recent grocery shopping trips, I tickled and nibbled and told funny jokes in the produce section trying to get my cranky babies and toddler to hang on for just a few more minutes. (Yes, I'm the one that actually pushes that three kid cart.) I only had a few things left to cross off my list of food, but it was lunch time, nap time, and I'm-tired-of-being-in-this-cart time all at the same time. I let Jonah pull down and hold onto the thin, wispy produce bags that I needed for my squash and zucchini. It takes longer than if I were to just do it myself, but at his age, he thrives on independence and helpfulness. While I was trying to pick through the bin of squash, I hear, "Hey mom! Look at me!" I turned around and saw Jonah grinning from ear to ear with a produce bag over his head. I took about a step and a half back to the cart, slipped the little bag off and said, "Jonah, babe, you can't do that. It's not good for you honey." No biggie, right?
In the matter of seconds that it took for this event to occur, another woman shopping near us took notice and made it clear by her shaking head that she did not approve. Her smug look and short chain of unsolicited comments toward me solidified her judgement. Suddenly, I was an inadequate mother and I was embarrassed. I wondered if she was the elusive super mom or if she was just having a bad day.
Motherhood is such a hot topic these days. Stay at home or continue your career? Breast or bottle? And if you do breast, should you feed in public? Sleep train or attachment parenting? There are just as many ways to parent as there are baby food varieties in Wal-Mart. And women of all varieties are coming together across all social networks to bash each other over it.
Why? I mean isn't being a wife and mother hard enough as it is? It certainly isn't all that I expected it to be. When I had dreams of having my own family they didn't include financial stress, a child with a heart defect, and no dishwasher. My dreams did not include the vast variety of disappointments and heartbreak that only come from loving deeply.
But it is so worth it because something wonderful is happening and I get to be apart of it. God is teaching and changing me through this incredibly crazy thing called family.
With the exception of those who abuse or neglect their children, we all have one common goal. To raise these little things up to be great people. What if we could accept each other's differences with a little grace? What if we lifted up instead of tearing down?
In the moment, I felt like telling the judgmental woman in produce to put a bag over her head. But another onlooker commented on how funny my son was and how he must be a blast at home. I softened and remembered that I didn't know that woman's story any more than she knew mine.
It's time for us to love more deeply. God calls us to be in community with each other, not in competition with each other.