We’ve all been there before…trying to quickly finish grocery shopping before nap time, exchanging some clothes at a nearby department store or in my case aiming to squeeze in some much-needed mommy time at a local coffeehouse. And then it happens their bottom lip starts to quiver, the little eyebrows begin to furrow and suddenly a loud indignant screech is heard around the room. Surely, this will only result in a full on cringe-worthy meltdown.
The BIG ones…marked by crocodile tears, hysterical yelling, and a baby kicking and flopping around like a fish out of water, ensuring there is no way you could possibly comfort her.
Meltdowns such as these can only be rectified with the dreaded wait it out method. These are the worst. You can feel the glaring stares, piercing through your soul from judgmental onlookers. And if you are anything like me, you quickly try to grab every item within reach, flopping baby and all…and abort the mission. Cheeks reddened with embarrassment and eyes fixed to the ground, you hustle out the door as fast as humanly possible. All you can hope for at this point is that the others will quickly forget the disruption caused.
The public tantrum (as far as I know) is a shared experience among all young mothers. So why are we as mothers ashamed of this? Why do we worry and fret over taking our littles out and about? As we’re well aware our babies cry for a multitude of reasons from being wet, to tired, to hungry, to bored, and as loving mothers we address those needs as efficiently as possible. But what about the times when our children are acting like just that, children? Why do we try so desperately to hush them then?
Is is because we are embarrassed or ashamed? Is it because we’re afraid of being judged? Or is it because we don’t want to cause a disturbance? While all of those may be valid feelings, the truth is that sometimes our babies are going to be a disruption. Sometimes they are going to talk too loud, or cry too long. Sometimes they are going to run when asked to walk, but these are no reason to feel shame or embarrassment. These are opportunities for learning…and the lessons aren’t always for our children.
We are doing those around us a great favor by showing them what raising children honestly looks like…all the good, bad and snotty-faces. Children are a beautiful gift from God and despite their occasional noisiness and outbursts, Pope Francis has wisely noted that
“[children] constantly remind us of the condition necessary to enter the kingdom of God: that of not considering ourselves self-sufficient, but needing help, love and forgiveness.”
Now I’m not at all suggesting that we should ignore our child’s fits and let them do as they please. Rather, I’m simply pointing out the obvious…babies cry because that is how they communicate. Sometimes little ones cry because they need something from us and don’t have the words to express it yet and that’s it. It’s not because they are being bratty or misbehaving…it’s because they need us…they need mom.
And if you ask me, it would do our world a bit of good to allow our kids to be kids, even in public. If we are truly pro-life and pro-family then we must be so in all aspects, even when it might draw some unwarranted attention to us.
So the next time those teary-eyed cries burst forth in a less than ideal setting, do your best to address your child’s need and do it with confidence. Hold your head up high dear Mama for you are giving the world a glimpse into the face of God and His life-giving love.
Image courtesy of Pedro Klien