serve

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Perhaps the greatest gift we can provide is service to others. My service to others is moms- I love moms! Always have & always will- there is this bond that exists, this understanding.
When a mother is struggling, truly struggling, it tugs at my heart-strings because I wonder if that mom, as I often do, is wrapping her worth, as a mom, in the way her child is acting. When they make bad choices, is that mom telling herself she is somehow not measuring up, is falling short, not enough, etc.? I have those feelings. I have those feelings way too often. Way way too often. I take their behavior personally. Like when Hope says, “you are not a good mom,” it burns a little/ stings a little bc that is what I’m a little insecure about. Or when James says “bless you,” “thank you,” “please,” or goes in for a super slobbery & deliberate & loud kiss- I think I did something right with him, as I always model manners (90% of the time). It’s a double edge sword, this mama thing.
Airports & traveling with children is tough. It’s not easy & it can be downright scary. James & I are parked @ the gate- iPad in hand, milk at his feet (alongside cheezits) & I’m at the edge of my seat because I can’t believe how still & quiet & amazing he’s being (waiting for the ball to drop). I’m ready with my bag of tricks & my tea & my stroller & my blanket & my back up water & my play dough & my crayons & my notebook. I’m armed & ready for mamahood. Thank God for the dollar section at Target. I love Target.
I have to pee, we head to the potty. I change James & he starts freaking out. The ball dropped. He’s loudly crying, loudly screaming, & loudly stomping. Hmmm- where is the pacifier, is he tired, hungry, bored, or not feeling well? I want to hide.
We get out of the family bathroom & people stare. They look blankly @ me, not James, me. Shall I provide a few alternatives: perhaps offering a helping hand, a wink, &/ or a reassuring smile would suffice, but not that look of horror like you’ve never ever seen a 2 year old throw a tantrum! Come on, people! Get with the program!
I know what it’s like & if I can, for a moment, help another feel a little less self conscious, a little less stressed- I’ll do it- I will help- not offer- I will just help because that, dear friends, is what I want you to do when you see my kid melting from bad to worse.
On the plane, I see people staring at the little gal & then they are staring at her mom & dad & brother. It sucks & the whole plane is silent except for the kicking, screaming, & unhappy toddler. The bystanders, the non moms, non dads, etc. don’t know how hard it is to wrangle a little human into their designated seat & somehow explain that they can’t remove the seatbelt. 2 year olds are meant to be mobile, so it’s so unbelievably difficult to keep a child calm in such heat, surrounded by a lot of people/ strangers/ in a confined space. Compassion- we need to be more compassionate & empathetic & caring & loving, etc. We must stop assuming, judging, pointing out fault, etc. Meet people where they are.
To the mom of that little rager: let us not judge, let us not stare, & let us not hesitate to hop in & provide a little relief.
That mama was fumbling- fumbling for a distraction/ anything to get her kid to shut up. I saw the sense of urgency in her eyes as she rummaged through her bag of tricks searching for the right one- questioning her daughter- giving her all the typical choices. All too well, I know that feeling.
Feeling desperate to find a solution, stat, to just stop the screaming, the kicking, the yelling, the anger- the mama could not find a way to stop the tantrum. I dug through my bag of tricks & found a puzzle thinking maybe that would do the trick- nope. & then I thought maybe the window clings James was obsessed with would make the tantrum go away & I was right- as in immediately- a new bright shiny thing that someone else offered put the tantrum at bay & the whole plane took a breath & I felt good knowing I tried to help a mama in need, if only for a slight moment in time. One moment can be powerful.
Window clings are one of the best inventions of all time- the gal stopped crying & was completely mesmerized by the window clings- the vibrancy, the stretch ability, the stickiness of the clings, & the way they stuck to her arms/ legs/ & the armrests of the plane. Totally kept her tantrum at bay. How simple & how very effective a simple dollar item can be.
We don’t know why that gal is acting out- is she ill, teething, afraid of planes, does she have special needs, etc.? Be ever so careful about the way you view those around you, the way you look at people, & the words you speak. Give them the benefit of the doubt & be kinder than necessary!
Reached out a hand to a single mother dressed in cowboy boots that I saw was at her wit’s end. She was just trying to keep her child’s tantrum under control. I reached into my bag of tricks & pulled out an activity to distract the toddler, to provide, if even for a moment relief & a breather. Us mamas gotta stick together. That gal, that raging little girl stopped kicking & crying & all I did was provide a blank notebook & crayons. Not much- but I saw her mom’s shoulders lower. It’s as if she had been holding her breath & she let it go when her daughter channeled that tantrum into her drawing. She scribbled with black & pink crayons & drew big thick heavy lines instead of screaming. Art therapy.
Offer what you can to help another person breathe a little easier & do it with joy & without hesitation. Help others as you would want others to help you. Be the change.

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