My oldest child was out of school for the day so I decided to allow my youngest to skip his nap so we could have a fun afternoon doing all sorts of activities we wouldn’t normally do.
That was my first mistake: letting him skip his nap.
Naps have always been a big deal in our home. Our boys are much happier when they get naps, and I’ve learned they’re vital for me as well. I need that break in the middle of the day to take a breath and recharge my spirit.
Missing a nap in our home is a big deal. It doesn’t happen very often.
But on this particular day, I decided to change things up.
We kicked off the day by swimming in our local Y’s indoor pool. Then we ran a few errands and headed to Chick-fil-A.
We arrived right in the middle of rush hour. The restaurant was packed. So was the play area.
Parents filled the provided seats. Some stood. Others sat on the floor.
For a while, my two boys played well together. In fact, they played so well together I even jotted this down in my Gratitude Journal: “Blessing #898: watching my two children play together and listening to them laugh.”
A few minutes later, though, I wondered why in the world I ever thought this was a good idea.
My youngest—in front of all the other children and all the other parents—slid down the slide with no pants on.
He literally wore nothing but a smile and his Buzz Lightyear underwear.
I felt my face turn red immediately.
The experts tell you to separate your child’s behavior from yourself…that you can’t blame yourself for every decision your child makes…but in this particular moment, I was mortified.
I did blame myself for his decision to remove his pants.
All I kept thinking was, what kind of parent doesn’t teach her child to keep his pants on in public?
I kept my head down in embarrassment as I got my son’s pants back on, grabbed his hand, and told him it was time to go. “We keep our pants on in public, Son. Because you didn’t, we have to leave.”
Then, right before we reached the door, I heard something that drastically changed the rest of our day.
“You’re a good mom, ya know.”
A woman who very easily could have judged me for my son’s behavior chose instead to offer kind words of encouragement when I needed it most.
I thought our day was ruined.
Had she not spoken those words to me, we would have probably gone straight home, each of us angry over the actions of another. Had she not spoken those words to me, I would have continued to beat myself up over my son’s decision (that, looking back now, wasn’t really that big of a deal. Kids do crazy things. What parent hasn’t had a similar thing happen to them at some point or another?)
A woman who didn’t know me and probably would never see me again chose to be generous with her grace when it was probably much easier to be generous with her judgment.
It’s so easy to see a frustrated parent and wonder why they don’t behave differently.
Judgment comes easily. But I’m learning it’s so much better to be generous with our grace than with our judgment.
Because the truth is, generous grace has a lot more power than judgment. It has the power to change a day, a week, maybe even a life.
Has anyone ever encouraged you like this woman encouraged me? I’d love to hear your story in the comments.
This post is part of the Marriage & Motherhood Mondays series. To see others in this series, simply click the image below.