“Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children and no theories.”—John Wilmot
I was at Target today trying to buy a vegetable steamer when Karly knocked a blender lid off the shelf. Thankfully, there was no shattering of glass so I told her to pick it up which (shocker) she did without complaint.
As all parents know, shopping with two busy preschoolers is no small feat. My nerves were fried before I walked in the door, and the knock-the-merchandise off the shelf didn’t help. But my blood pressure hit the ceiling when an older man walked by and in a sing-songy, sarcastic voice zapped me with: “Mommy, watch your children.”
My back arched. The claws popped out.
“Excuse me?” I yelled, pushing the cart (and Kiki) to the end of the aisle.
But he was long gone. He blasted me with his insult and took off down another aisle before I could respond. A hit and run.
My pulse racing, I wanted to chase him down and ask him a few things like:
- Who gave you permission to criticize me?
- How dare you imply that I’m neglecting my kids?
- And, most important, why don’t you stop and help an obviously frayed mom who could use an extra hand?
At that moment, I figured it wouldn’t be good for me or my girls to chase an unkind man through the store and zap him back. And it certainly wouldn’t be modeling the Christ-like behavior that I want to demonstrate to my kids.
So I took a deep breath and prayed for peace as I bought my steamer, coaxed the girls toward and into the car, and watched the man get into his car and drive away.
My heart started to calm, and I began to wonder where my anger bubbled up from. Insecurity? You bet. Guilt? Definitely. Wounded pride. Absolutely! Some days I feel like almost anyone else except me would do a better job parenting my kids and having an insult flung at me on a bad day can make me want to sit down and sob.
As I drove away from the store, I realized that it didn’t matter what that man or anyone else thought as long as I was doing my best to care for my children (which sometimes means shopping for little things like clothes, band-aids, food, and even a steamer).
And I decided one other thing—the next time a grouchy man decides to insult me and my parenting skills, I’ll just sic Karly on him. She’ll either hug him or hit him, but either way, I bet he won’t say another word.