To the Mommy with the screaming kids at Wal-Mart

I'll bet you wished you could've disappeared into thin air.  Or screamed back at the littles.  Or at least pretended that you were their nanny and none of this was your fault.

But there you were, with all the eyes upon you.  The littlest little was really having a hard time.  He didn't want to be in that cart and it was your will against his.  The bigger little was quite busy lecturing him and telling you every error her brother had committed (gotta love those older sibs!).  And he was having none of it.

I didn't stand around to glare like a couple of self-righteous looking middle aged spinsters (I can promise you those two have never had children - or else they are suffering so severely from early onset dementia that they have clearly forgotten what it feels like to be in your place!).  I didn't want to humiliate you further with the realization that yet another person was witnessing the meltdown.

So I am hoping and praying that this message will waft across cyberspace somehow and write itself onto your heart.

Here's what I want to say...

It's worth it.

I promise it is.

I am not going to tell you to cherish these times because they will fly by.  'Cause when I was in  your life stage,  during those moments, I was praying they would do just that!  The physical fatigue (who knew 20 lbs of solid mass could slap wear you out like this???), the emotional drain, and the lack of mental stimulation are tough.  Really tough.  But, if you're anything like I am, those are mere pittance compared to the paralysis of self-doubt that these years bring.

Am I doing it right?  Which book should I read?  Whose philosophy is best?  What are the tricks that really work to get them to behave and sleep and grow up right?  When can I see some progress?

I get it.  I do.  And I want to tell you that it's worth it.  It is worth all that energy, all that sacrifice, all that endurance.

When your littles were claiming their place in the book of Wal-Mart meltdowns, you kept your cool.  You demonstrated patience and kindness, even though that's probably the last thing you felt.  But you didn't cave in.  I was contemplating an offer of fruit rollups but I decided to let you keep handling it - you were doing just fine.  You calmly spoke to each child.  You didn't try and reason with them (no 2 year old understands reason!) You made them sit in the buggy in spite of their vehement protests.  And, even though you graciously acknowledged their desires and displeasures, you didn't capitulate.

Their future teachers and coaches and friends would like to thank you.

I don't know how the rest of your trip went, although I was sorely tempted to follow you around the store.  I didn't want to stalk you - I just wanted to tell you that it's worth it.

Training children is hard.  Maybe not all the time and sure, there are some tips that can help along the way.  But it's hard work. And we can all point to plenty of evidence of the lack of such.

So, Mommies of littles, keep at it.  You don't have to be perfect - Thank God.  For the times you will mess up (and there are those times for every single Mom there is, no matter what they want you to think), there is grace.  Admitting failure and asking for forgiveness can allow God to redeem those mistakes and to show your kids the way of repentance and reconciliation and restoration. 

But don't excuse your failures to the point of neglecting to train.  Discipline (however you administer it) is difficult.  And, in the moment, we cannot see its results.  But later, usually much later, the fruit is evident.  For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.  (Hebrews 12:11)

Don't stop the training, Mommies.  There will be sweet rewards, I promise.  As tough as it is right now, there will be enough tender moments along the way that you can hold onto.  Tight hugs at night and whispers of "I love you bestest".  Crayon scribbles and mudpies and dandelion bouquets that are inestimably more valuable than all the diamonds in the world.  Tears and fears and questions that can only be soothed by you. 

And these tender moments morph into young adults.  Young adults that are the arrows you shoot into the world to carry the message of grace and truth. 

That older one, the lecturer?  One day she's gonna move Heaven and Earth to get her family to baby brother's graduation.  And she'll help the baby sister with money for camp and to know which clothes are cool.  And she'll defend them all  til the end of time from mean people and cruel situations  and even parents who forget what middle school is like.

That screaming baby boy that will have nothing to do with his sister's "encouragement"?  Well, one day he's gonna call her for advice on Organic Chemistry professors and what to get you for Mother's Day and even on girls. He'll be her kid's favorite uncle and make them laugh like nobody else.

 They're going to spend vacations together and come home for holidays and play Apples to Apples way into the night.  They are going to make you so very proud.  So very thankful, so very proud.

But you won't be surprised.  You will know that these are the fruits of your labor.  yes, the grace of God to be sure, but it will have to be His grace working through a cooperative you.  I Corinthians 15:10 - and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

So Mommies in the meltdown years?  Don't quit.  Don't neglect their training.  It's worth it.  I promise.


It's worth it.