Monday, December 16, 2013

Lookin' at History

The stranger stared at me from inside the Chick-fil-A playground. His little boy was yelling to the top of his lungs and half the restaurant could hear him through the thick glass. Did I mention he also had his lips, nose and hands plastered on the see-through pane and was calling out for his mom? The man looked embarrassed and pained.

I hesitantly opened the door and let my youngest two loose. They are not exactly the quietest kids on the block. Plus, there was a history to our day and I did not feel like sharing it. Often, we as mommas, don't think about the history of someone's day and what got their sanity, kids and bodies to the point in the day where we so easily judge them. We think of our own day with details and extreme clarity and well, a whole dose of justification. But, when it comes to other women, we take stock of them in the present with little to no regard to what has led them to those few moments.

Everyone had taken a much needed nap that afternoon and well, it lasted longer than anticipated because of a serious lack of sleep this past week. It was 5:00 and we had to be at the piano recital at 6:30. Remember the days when you were single or childless and could just walk out the door with five minutes' notice. Yeah, me neither. Two teenage girls take at least an hour (at least...I'm screaming this people...hear me clearly...cause you will need this bit of information sooner than you think...AT LEAST an hour). Jett, well he's quick, but he also needs to be reminded every three minutes to get everything he needs. My fear was that he would forget his music, and well, he doesn't have it memorized. That would be an hour round trip back to our house, so I was going to make sure that did not happen. And do not for a moment think that there wasn't yelling and gnashing of teeth to get everyone to dress appropriately and do it in a timely fashion. There was plenty of that.

Then, there's Zeke and Elly, and I've frankly had enough criticism about skin and hair care to last a lifetime. So, I was careful to make sure that everyone was lathered in our favorite shea butter from head to toe. Just in case they played in the playground and their socks happen to fall off too. Then, there's Zeke's hair which requires a pick and a comb to get to the right height and evenness (the mohawk is not as simple as it looks). Oh and Elly's hair which demands the passing of an amendment to the Constitution in order to pass inspection. I divided it straight down the middle (oh, I cannot emphasize how important this is to her), applied the conditioner, brushed and brushed until my arm was on fire and properly prepared the pigtails. (The child is ADAMANTLY opposed to twists or braids or anything cute like that. Those hairstyles seem to ignite something in her that I don't want to wrangle right now). So, with two minutes to spare, everyone was ready to go.

We arrived at CFA and proceeded to find a place to fit seven people and check in with the piano instructor and get kids to wait for food and we seemed to be missing two people. JT strides through the door and has a determined look on his face. One kiddo is out in the car crying because she forgot her music. I think JT's words were something like, "You need to go take care of that because I'm not a counselor." Oh no! Let's just say that 30 minutes of therapy fixed the issue and all survived. Listen to music intermittently, feed kids, more music, don't eat off the floor, I'll stand while you eat, etc....and then off to the playground.

I caught the man's eye and he looked like he could use a listening ear. When I walked into the door, he immediately spoke up, "Are all those kids yours?" Pause. Now, is he asking about adoption, my occupation (am I babysitting? do I run a daycare? a teacher?), or is this just a general kill-the-silence question?

As it turns out, the kid was wearing him out that day, and his wife needed a break. Everyone was tired of the three year old, and he was an only child. What could've easily turned into a judgmental attitude on my part or his turned into several minutes of encouragement in the Lord. Because it is hard to be a matter how many kids you have or don't have...

And EVERYONE has a tendency to see others as having an "easier" life or a season that is so much more rewarding...yet, we forget that there is a history that can be painful or embarrassing or exhausting or difficult. We just see the immediate of others yet the whole history book on ourselves.

During this holiday season, let us pledge to think of the history of others and not to gauge everything by the moment. Parenting is a cumulative calling that affects us all and binds us together. Let us not wound one another with our judgments or assessments or self-help philosophies. Instead, let us run to the throne of the One who can show us how to love well and search the Word for wisdom that transcends earthly advice. Stand shoulder to shoulder with fellow parents and parents to be who are longing to lead their families to seek the glory of God. Shed the opinions for encouragement. Leave the judgments and choose blessings. Battle on.


Joan Uptain Watkins said...


Joan Uptain Watkins said...
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RETA said...

How wonderful. Thank you for your post. We gave birth to one child and adopted five children. I understand what you've said. In addition, I share like-faith and would not have made it to this point without a fully devoted life to Christ. Love your blogspot and think your family is adorable!