Parent Like Someone is Watching

Parent Like Someone is Watching

2 weeks ago I loaded my 3 kids into my taxi van to have our monthly chiropractic appointment, everything appearing to be as normal as can be with kids.  However, upon opening my van door to begin the unbuckling process a scent hit me that every mother knows all too well and cringes when it happens at unexpected moments.

Yes, poop.  However, I didn’t realize the extent of the stink damage until after I had rushed inside (I’m sure I was late as per my usual) and I signed everybody in.

It was leaky poop. The kind that gets on the only clothes you have because you’re passed the newborn phase and blowouts shouldn’t happen anymore! The kind that gets all over the carseat and seeps into the fabric to make your car stink for days, despite washing it.  The kind that leaks on your shirt sleeve since you have to hold the leaky baby. The kind molar teething babies make. Bleh.

So I rolled up my sleeves–literally–to cover where the poop got on me and got to work.  I requested paper towels to lay her down on and a bag for the offending diaper and dirty clothes (I know, I know. So unprepared.). Amazingly, praise God, the poop escaped without touching her pants so those stayed, but I had to find a jacket in the van to pose as her new shirt.

While dealing with the poop fiasco, I look over to find my 3 year old son had dumped out all the business cards from the office counter on the floor. He also discovered the complimentary water and dumped water in the trash can. The receptionist gave the older kids markers and paper to try to keep them entertained while we waited. Awesome! (me, still cleaning). Then I see he is now coloring the chairs red instead of the paper.  I know he knows the “only on paper rule!” Ashlyn was clean and freed, so I finished cleaning myself up and bagging the items…only to find Ashlyn has now dumped a cup of water on the floor! Yet another mess to scrub within 10 minutes of arriving (and yes, those handy baby wipes got all the red marker up too. Whew!)

Thank God the receptionist is a mom of many grown children herself, so understanding was in her sympathetic eyes instead of judgment as she passed me supplies for the mess times 3.  She understood it was one of those days.

After that appointment, we had to run into the grocery store to pickup a few items (I know. What was I thinking after that?  Maybe too optimistic the worst was over?).  Then the screaming started.  My two older ones spotted a balloon they just had to have on a display (it wasn’t even for sale!).  You could hear my 3 year old’s screams echoing through the produce section and I could feel the stares of customers around me.

Do you feel the stress? Cause I did. Had we been at home, I would have been screaming myself by now.  The mess, the stress, the screaming– things like that get to me easily, unfortunately. And I hate it, I really do. I always start my day aiming to discipline without yelling, I pray about it constantly trying to be a better Mom with a gentle answer and spirit. Proverbs 15:1 is the verse I cling to for parenting right now: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Then life in the real time happens and so does the yelling.  Sometimes it feels like it is the only way they will listen because saying it gently 4 times doesn’t get noticed. Of course, it is then followed with the apologies and the mommy guilt of failing again. But y’all, a beautiful thing happened this crazy afternoon.

I learned I could be the parent I wanted to be.  I parented in those moments like I always wanted to parent because I knew people were watching.  At the chiropractor’s office, at the grocery store, people were watching. I didn’t yell, though I felt like it. I got on their level into their tiny ears and said what I needed to say gently but firmly. It proved to myself I can have the self-control I desire, with God’s help and the right perspective. What’d ya know!

It was one of those days, y’all. The ones where you just have to laugh and praise God we made it through.  However, I’m so glad for this day.  Not just for the laughter I can now have when I share this story with my kids as they grow older, but for the lesson God gave me in it.

Parent like someone is watching.  After all, even at home if we aren’t trying to keep our cool in front of strangers, God is always there. Always watching. And isn’t his view of us most important of all?  That is what I want to keep in mind every day from now on with my kids. Have our lives been scream free since? Nope. It is a process. But, having this day to remember when things are feeling crazy sure helps to pull me back to knowing I can parent with self-control. That, and my 7 year old being my little reminder, “You need to have more self-control!”

Do you have any crazy kid stories that you just had to laugh to get through the stress? Did it teach you anything? I’d love to hear them!  





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