I know you.
You’re dealing with a toddler not listening, simply saying you’re tired is the understatement of the century, and now sweet little Johnny has pulled every personal item out of your purse and your cherry lip balm has rolled under the Cheerios display.
Little Johnny also screeched (several times, very loudly) as your buggy was parked next to the frail old man who also happened to be shopping in the milk aisle.
At the checkout lane, he tried to jump out of the cart and grab a handful of candy. (Remember when he did that last week? You didn’t get to him in time, a bag of M&Ms ripped open, and all the lovely chocolate pieces went racing ten feet across the floor.)
While you’re trying to load the bags into your car, Johnny decides to have a full-blown meltdown in your arms.
You wonder why you even try to take him out of the house.
You feel overwhelmed. You feel like you’re not getting anything done. You feel like your child is a distraction to everyone near you. You feel like everyone is looking at you and critiquing your parenting skills.
Please keep trying.
Johnny is a toddler, and he is learning how to act at in public. It takes time. There will come a day when he will happily bounce along as he pushes a kiddie cart beside you in the supermarket.
There will come a day when you’re driving in the car, on your way home from the store, and he’ll say something completely unexpected, like “Mom, I had fun hanging out with you today!” And then you’ll announce that an impromptu Starbucks run would be a good way to celebrate.
That day is coming.
See, not only is little Johnny learning, but you are learning, too.
You’re learning how to raise a child.
You’re learning how to be a patient parent.
You are learning how to keep your sweet boy beside you in public places, instead of back and forth between aisles or seats.
You’re gleaning ideas for inspiring kindness in your child while he’s young.
You’re learning how to be intentional about instilling a sense of personal responsibility.
You may feel like everyone is watching you, judging you, but every parent has been there. A few of them may have forgotten, but it’s happened to us all in some fashion.
Have I ever told you about the time I was at a family conference with my toddler, and his diaper overflowed? There I was, in the middle of hundreds of people, and my pretty dress was soaked all. down. the. front.
Or maybe I should pause and mention that one of my boys hated being confined to our pew at church and he constantly darted into the aisle. If I found a way to keep him in the pew, then he would creatively find a way to climb under the seats and into the aisle or the row behind us. I’d close my eyes, raise my hand to worship, and then – poof! – he’d be gone.
You’re not alone. We’ve been where you are. I’ve been there, too.
Our stories may be slightly different, but we share the same mission. Keep your chin up and don’t be discouraged. Give yourself grace.
You’re doing important work by sowing seeds of gentleness and patience into your little one during this season. You’re in a season of teaching and training. Keep teaching. It will get easier. They will learn. You will learn.
One day you will reap a harvest of blessings from this season of sowing. It’s hard work, and you must be intentional, but one day you will take joy in the young adults they’ve grown to become. The seeds you plant in their heart today will transform into firmly rooted trees that will help them weather the storms of life.
Embrace this season and the important work you get to do today. You’re building up a child who has a solid foundation!
Go in grace,