I went to a large gathering this weekend. A church gathering of people from the two closest states near me. We all meet together once a month, if we can make it... have fellowship and discuss scripture. I honestly love going. We havent been in so long due to life getting in the way. But I was so excited to see all the faces I havent seen in such a long time...
As I was chit-chatting with a dear friend, her daughter was darting to and fro as we spoke. Her daughter is two; and just the sweetest thing ever! About half-way through a sentence, her mother saw her reach for someone's things... "A! Don't pilfer through other people's things!" She grabbed her daughter and put everything back as best as she could. Suddenly my mind wandered as I watched this mother and daughter...
About a year and a half ago; my son, almost two... pilfered through someone's things. He ran through a crowded room, reached into a lady's purse and grabbed her glasses case. I caught him before he could do much else... but what was the reaction of the people around me? It wasnt a simple pause in the middle of a conversation, as it had been with my friend. With my son, it was a show stopping experience. The pastor's wife let out a screech and exclaimed those were her sister's glasses and if he broke them, it would be hundreds of dollars. I apologized and said they were undamaged, but if they had been... we would of course pay for their replacement. (I have glasses; and am blind as a bat without them, so I understand how important those are.) I also understand that my son, at the time, was almost two... and was as curious and determined as a Capuchin monkey. (He still is, but has thankfully learned some restraint.)
What saddens me is; in this little fellowship/church, my son was not treated as a two year old, but as a bothersome, destructive hoodlum. And I was so thankful and glad to see my friend's daughter (and her mother) treated with kindness and grace by passers-by. While I was pleased and happy to see such kindness on display; I couldnt help but be slightly bitter to my own treatment, and that of my son over a year and a half ago. I've suffered numerous callous remarks and disdain for my small children in predominately older adult fellowships. It's been a constant tight rope, trying to balance between making sure they arent a bother, but at the same time, are allowed to be children. Trying to take the time and opportunity to correct their behavior, but have the grace and patience to weigh out their ages and levels of understanding. ...
So, when I see mothers with young children, in situations where there arent any other young children present... and it is quite obvious their children are the ones making noise, their children are the ones misbehaving... their children are the ones causing a distraction... My heart goes out to you. And I want you to know, you have an ally. I've been there. I spent the last two years going to a place every week where my children were the youngest ones, where they made 3/5 of ALL the children attending... where if crying or blabbing or normal child behavior was occurring, they were probably the ones doing it. Where all eyes would turn and gaze at them... I want you to know I've been you. And if ever I see you need a helping hand, I will offer one. I will offer assistance instead of rude stares and snide remarks... I will try to share my best advice with you - my experiences.
And I want to tell you something: Do not be embarrassed. Do not be ashamed. Raising children is the hardest thing to do... and if they are having a bad day, or if you are having a bad day.... if you can't seem to calm them down... Do not be afraid to ask for help. Seek a mother you trust to ask for guidance or a helping hand...
women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious
gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to
be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own
husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.…
I want to tell you older, capable women (older capable mothers) in the fellowships and communities I've been too in the past two years, the women who have NOT helped me, the women who have gossiped, glared, snapped at mothers with young children; that your time is better served by being gracious and kind to young mothers with young children in need... Shame on you for not helping them, for not training them on how to calm a baby, or offering to rock a child in the back row, while the mother gets a break... or offering to help tag-team with them because their hands are full and they are clearly stressed. Where is your compassion, and grace? Where are the memories of your hard days caring for your young children? What nuggets of wisdom can you share with young mothers who are right in the thick of it?
For those mothers, and fathers (and friends), who have been a help; thank you. A thousand times: THANK YOU. Thank you for not treating my children (and other small children) as second class citizens. Thank you for not minding they come sit on your lap during service ... or not minding them playing with your shoe strings during questions and answer time. Thank you for being a light, and encouragement, and a helping hand... Thank you for showing me (and my friend and her daughter) that not everyone is a prickly, cold, callous person... By you showing kindness, and offering to help in stressful situations, you are helping train the younger generation to do the same for the generation that comes after them. Thank you for being such a wondrous example of Jesus's (Yeshua's) Love.
To the Mom with small children... things will get better. Take things a day at a time. Find a community where the people around you, encourage you... where they show love and compassion... a place where, when correction is needed (to either yourself or your children) it is done so in a gracious, thoughtful, Biblical, and kind manner. Even when you feel alone, or singled out... remember: You are not alone... Millions of mothers have been in your shoes, and are in them right now. Be encouraged, and dont despair.
1 Timothy 4:12
Let no one look down on you because you are young; but in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an
example to those who believe.
Matthew 19:14But Jesus said, "Let the children alone, and do not
hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such
Matthew 18:3And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.