Motherhood and grace should go hand in hand. It’s a tough job, and when things get crazy or you mess up, it can be so relieving to find grace in others’ view of you…in how they react. Grace received from your own children and husband goes a long way. But sometimes grace from a stranger can go even further.
Last weekend, I was having a good time with several of Braylon’s friends in our garage. We decided to do an art project around a table. Braylon finished pretty quickly and joined his friend from school, “J”, in the driveway. This was just the 2nd time he’d come over to play, and I’d recently had a bad miscommunication with his mother, but wrote her a loving note to try & work it out… and a few weeks later we seemed to be fine. So the other day, Braylon & “J” were skateboarding for a while and then they started fake-sword-fighting (while I was painting, etc. with 3 other lil ones, about 15 ft away).
Then I hear “J’ complaining about his arm hurting. He wasn’t crying, but I got up to see why it hurt. I saw several dots of blood on it, from where Braylon got him with his “fake sword”. Thing is, Braylon wasn’t thinking and chose a dangerous tool to use as his “fake sword” – one he’d gotten from our grill – the kind with strong, wire bristles for cleaning a grill. I examined the tool and had Bray apologize, as it looked like it did hurt. But they weren’t fighting maliciously and Bray didn’t get him intentionally. Nonetheless, I was concerned so later that day, I text’d his mother, telling her briefly what happened, that it was an accident and was sorry, & asking how her son was doing. She replied “some brusing and a few drop of blood…”. Two days later (Monday, I believe) “J” came to my mind again and I was concerned, so I text’d her again to follow up on his arm’s condition. Although I didn’t actually see the short sword-fight, I couldn’t imagine his arm still hurting from how it looked shortly after. I expected her to say he’s much better….or it’s almost healed; thanks for asking.
I deleted her reply, but it was very similar to this: “its pretty messed up. i am very upset with your son. i will never let him play with my son again. frankly, i question your intelligence”. This is the 2nd time this mother’s reacted to me in this way, so I don’t know why I was shocked. I guess I’m just not used to it. It’s so contrasting to how my friends would react.
Although I felt terrible, and wanted to reply, I didn’t. I felt anything I would say would not help.
Fast-Fwd to yesterday (Tuesday), at the Wal*Mart check-out: I had bought my food and was waiting for carry-out help while I watched the lady behind me. Her daughter (2-3 yrs old) was sitting on the ground toward the middle of the isle. I watched as another lady headed through the isle with her cart half-full of groceries. I saw her look & notice the little girl, and continue on, but to her surprise, she’d misjudged where her cart’s wheels were heading and ran right over the little girl’s fingers. I saw it. And I heard the “bump-bump”. Then I heard nothing. There seemed to be a full minute that passed before that girl could catch her breath enough to let out the most horrendous, glass-shatterin’ cry. Her mommy swooped her up, and the lady rushed back and must’ve apologized 3 times as she intermittently self-checked her food, explaining that she honestly thought she had enough room to go by.
The little girl’s mom responded several times back with a smile, “Oh, it’s ok. She’ll be ok.” or, “It’s her nap time & she’s tired. I think I’ll just give her some Tylenol & put her down for a nap when we get home.” Another time she said, “Things like this happen sometimes. Pleeaase, don’t feel bad. Her fingers were kind of out there too far, I think”. I watched the guilt-ridden woman listen to these words of honey, hoping they’d be received… hoping they’d resound louder than the cries of pain.
After the woman left, and the mom was still there, paying, I walked up to her & thanked her. She looked at me, confused. I explained briefly that earlier this week, I’d had a mom react to something my son did that accidentally hurt her son – & the reaction I got was, well, quite opposite. I said how it was so refreshing to witness one mom showing so much grace to another.
I guess I was hormonal and had teared up while talking, cause the next thing I know, I hear this big, kind stranger say, “awwwwwwe!” and was squeezed in her compassionate bear-hug! When she let go, I guess she thought I needed more affirmation and proceeded to tell me a little story about how she could relate, when a mom at a park “went off” on her. She then wished me a good day & went on her way.
It seemed to really work out that it took Wal*Mart employees 12 minutes to find someone for car carry-out that day. After a few minutes of waiting, I was going to just go. But I really wanted to see how everything played out. Had they helped me immediately with all my groceries, like some grocery stores offer, I’d have missed this scene – this demonstration of grace and love to a stranger. It’s one thing to treat someone you love with such grace, but another to extend it to your neighbor … to a stranger in the store, a park, a post office. How ’bout someone who has crossed you – someone who you don’t like? How are you different than anyone in this God-forsaken world if you show a hostile attitude or even indifference to those people? Nothing sets you apart.
Specifically, I think it’s so important for mothers to stick together and support each other. That’s part of why I’ve been involved in mom’s groups for many years. We need to hold each other up with reliable encouragement, honesty & prayer. Keep each other accountable. Live in an exemplary way for our children, almost going out of our way to brighten another mom’s week…WEEKLY. I know I’m miles away from living this consistently, but dangitall if I’m not gonna make it my goal. Life is too short to not make your mark of grace on everyone you can, especially other moms.
That’s my 2¢.