Is a kind word from a stranger. I don't think it's too much to ask. In fact, it's the comments of strangers that led to my first post. The attitude that I'm crazy for taking on parenting, for loving it, for feeling blessed to have three children under three. The comments were hurtful enough, but the sheer amount was what really hurts my heart. I never realized how widespread in our society the "parenting is so hard" mindset truly was. Am I saying parenting is a piece of cake? No. But like I stated in that first post, when did we get to the point that we figured only a few "supermoms" can actually enjoy parenting and do it well? When did we forget that God has called us and equipped us to handle every situation we face as mothers? Why are we so quick to complain about parenthood rather than to celebrate it?
When I go out with my children, it is for the most part an enjoyable experience. I mean, we have our days...missed nap times, bad attitudes, not feeling well...but 99% of the time we are laughing, smiling, truly enjoying each other. So to have our nice time together interrupted by strangers who feel the need to comment on "how full" my hands are, how I "need a hobby" (apparently if you have 3 children all you do is, well, you know...), "how crazy" people think I am. Based on the comments I receive it's apparent that people believe my decision to have my children (to have so many, and to have them close together) is selfish, I should be miserable, and I am just setting myself up for failure. And it's not just me. It's a common thing for my friends to be at the receiving end of these comments as well. A woman told me friend, in front of her children, "how sorry" she was that they were all hers (well, she whispered it so I guess she felt that made it ok.) And do not get me started on comments made about my friends who have adopted or biracial children. All of us have anywhere from 2-4 children. Hardly a large number, in fact a pretty normal number in my opinion. Let's change this. Let's change this parenthood attitude. We obviously cannot change other people's opinions on how our family should look, but we can pass on to others how much we love our families. We can encourage each other, and hopefully one day these discouraging words will be the ones that are few and far between rather than the good ones. When we see a mother in the store with her children, to share an encouraging word with her, rather than to make these comments that imply she should be embarrassed or miserable in her current situation. Obviously, I know these judgemental comments and sideways glances aren't going to go away, but it would be nice if I would get a "You must have so much fun with your children" or "Your family is so blessed" while I'm out with my family more often than getting the negative comments. I don't ever want my children to believe that I feel the same way about them as these strangers. I want them to know that they are not a burden. That I don't just view them as hard work. I want them to know they are loved, cherished, and pretty darn great. It would be nice if they were made to think I'm not the only one who feels this way! How wonderful if my children could grow up in a society that valued them as much as I do.
Despite all of the negativity, I've had those special moments, when people have said something encouraging to me. When my children are screaming in line for candy and I tell them no. To have a fellow mother say, "You're doing a good job." Rather than giving me a pitiful look or telling me to "just give it to them." The time a lady who had 5 children purposefully came across the restaurant to tell me to "Enjoy them because they are such great blessings." Today, to have one of those horrible moments after my 3 and 2 year old held the door open for a lady with a walker. Her daughter (who was a fully grown woman) instead of making a comment about how sweet my children were, looked at my baby in the carrier then at my older two and says, "You finally got your boy. Congratulations on that one." The fact that my older son (who has long hair) was wearing all blue escaped her I guess. But even if Kason were my first boy, why would I be more grateful for him? And why was this the comment she felt was the most important thing to tell me at the time? After that, to be so discouraged yet again, only to have a sweet women tell me a little later on, how "precious my family was, how wonderful my kids are, and how blessed I am." That comment turned my yet again defeated attitude into one of hope and joy. Because I do hope that people see the love and happiness I feel for my family. I pray that we will look for opportunities to encourage other mothers, and I pray that we will never be a source of hurt or anger to them. I pray that, one day, a kind word from a stranger will be commonplace rather than the exception. And that is what I want for Christmas.