Village

Last week, while at the bookstore looking for Christmas gifts, Bea had her first public temper tantrum. She had been in rare form since we arrived: Running through the aisles, shrieking, shouting “Hi!” at every shopper, laughing hysterically. Pre-kid, I always assumed I’d just leave a store if my child wasn’t behaving properly. Since that idealistic thought, I now will not forfeit the time and effort it took to get us bundled up and out the door.

It took about one thousand times longer to pick out two cookbooks than if I had been alone. We finally headed to the check-out line, where we faced a gamut of small, cheap, irresistible trinkets. Bea picked up a tween friends game, a TARDIS replica, and a box of Godiva chocolates. As the line moved forward, I would pry a treasure from her hand and she would soon find a new one. As we progressed, she grew frustrated with my confiscations and threw herself on the floor with an ear-splitting shriek.

At home, when this happens, I ignore the behavior and we’re soon back to normal. I decided to try this method in our very public setting and quickly apologized to those around me. The woman in front of us smiled and said, “Never apologize! We’ve all been there.” We laughed about this special season of parenting and, within 30 seconds, Bea was back to her sweet self.

As we drove home, I reflected on the phrase, “It takes a village.” It’s true that we surround ourselves with communities who help us raise Bea. But, it’s different in the global community of strangers. The grace and encouragement this older, wiser mom showed me was exactly what I needed to boost my confidence in my parenting choices. I know we’ll meet a variety of critics and supporters in future outings, and I hope I can remember those words – to not apologize; to remember others have done this before me; and to be confident in my parenting, no matter how messy it is in the moment.

Has a stranger ever shown you grace and encouragement?

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