We’ve all seen her. The tired, stressed-out mama with a trail of little ones behind her.
She’s the one who looks to be battling tears at the checkout line in the grocery store. Her toddler is yanking gum off the shelf, the baby is screaming in his carrier, two more kids are shoving each other around while the oldest is trying to be helpful and unload groceries . . . until the eggs land on the floor. And don’t look, but there might be one more happy-chappy on the bottom rack of her shopping cart.
No wonder she’s almost in tears.
Then some well-meaning soul comes up, head bobbing up and down as she counts all the littles running around, and utters those fateful words.
“Oh, you have so many children! And how old is the oldest? 8?
Well, I had 6 children within 6 years!“
Now I may not be speaking for every single mom in the world today, but I think I can speak for the general population when I say that that is one of the most unhelpful things someone can say to a mom that is about to lose her cookies (figuratively speaking, of course).
It doesn’t help her through the checkout line any faster. It doesn’t help her cope with sleepless nights any better. It doesn’t add to her sense of self-esteem one iota.
What it does do is make her feel like less of a mom because her kids came with a little more space between them than what yours did.
If you had any advice you were going to give her, it may not be well-received at this point – because of the words you just uttered. Instead, it has now given you an air of pride, whether you meant it that way or not. And I have found that it’s more difficult to take advice from a prideful person. There is just something that stands in the way and makes the receiving a little harder.
I read several Christian blogs, have read quite a few articles, and seen people’s comments in social media. And I’m saddened by this attitude that has snuck into our mommy circles. It’s the attitude that “if you have your children in a very short period of time, you get to move one more rung up the ladder to sainthood.”
Posh and nonsense! I’m here to tell you that attitude is one that needs to be nipped in the bud. It does nothing but cause division and hard feelings. It might make you feel better about yourself, but that’s probably the only person who feels better by it.
God does not condone this type of attitude either. Each and every child is precious in His eyes . . . whether they come 10 months apart or 10 years apart. And we know He loves the mamas of those children just as much, too.
One more thing to consider if you’re ever tempted to say those unkind words. The Bible speaks much more about the training of a child, than of how often we should have them.
I will be honest with you. I’ve probably said those most prideful, uncaring words more often than they’ve been said to me . . . and I wish I could go back and do it differently. If you were one of those unfortunate women that I had the audacity to speak those words to, I want you to know I apologize from the depths of my heart. It was most unkind, and I’m truly sorry.
So if you are behind that tired, stressed-out mama in the checkout line tomorrow – remember this. Instead of putting yourself up a notch higher than her, look gently into her eyes and tell her what a good mother she is! Compliment her on how helpful the oldest child is, even though the eggs do land on the floor. Tell her you love that beautiful smile coming from the ornery happy-chappy peeking out at you from the bottom rack of her grocery cart.
If you do so, you will see her stand a little taller. Those threatening tears may never come. She will leave the checkout line thinking that she can do this after all. That sleepless night coming will have the bitter edge taken off of it since she now believes that her job, although not glamorous, is getting done with all her heart.
One Tired Mama