Temper tantrums and two year olds…
Next time you are at the grocery store and you see a mom give in to her 2 year old throwing a tantrum, buying him the candy he wants-don’t judge because that is probably me, or has been me or will be me. Don’t judge because you don’t know what that mom has been through that day, night, or week. You may not realize that her husband has gone for an extended period of time. Or that she has been up cleaning up puke all night the previous 3 nights before. Or that they just moved to this new location and she is feeling lonely and isolated. I know from experience because I have been that mom and I am also the queen of judging.
We recently had the stomach flu come through our house. It started while my husband was gone on a 10day trip. He joined in the “fun” a mere 3 hours after returning and got so sick it took him a week of not eating and sleeping to recover. So with six people in the house it took us over 12 days of someone constantly well…having the stomach flu…I’ll spare the details. On one of my many runs to the store to buy more electrolyte enhanced water (thank you Trader Joes, since my kids refuse pedialyte), crackers, kefir, bananas, apple sauce etc. my 3 year old threw a bottle of kefir out of his cart (sarcastic thank you to Trader Joes for having little carts that my kids think are the best thing ever and best used as race cars). He happened to narrowly miss the elderly woman standing next to us. Needless to say she was not amused. She was even less amused as she watched the following:
My son proceeded to throw himself on the floor and declare he needed 2 kefir bottles and they both had to have a blue lid (his favorite color). “Not fair,” chirped my daughter, “if he gets 2, I want 2.” In a finer moment of parenting I would have given them choices, “you can have a kefir or a yogurt container”. But on this particular Tuesday I was exhausted and in a hurry. So my son got 2 kefirs in his cart and my daughter got 2 in hers. We are now set on kefir until the end of June. In fact if you had seen their carts at the checkout stand you might have thought I had a problem. They EACH had 2 bottles of water, 2 kefirs, 2 yogurt containers, 2 bunches of bananas and 2 bottles of sprite. My son likes to have two of each. My daughter values “fairness”. And I could not deal with conflict. I just needed something to help the other 3 Millikans at home get better.
I could write post after post on ways I judged others then had to “eat” that judgment. I’ve cloth diapered and used disposable diapers. I’ve made my own organic baby food and bought baby food. I’ve homeschooled, sent my kids to public school and sent them to private Christian school. At one point I had 3 kids under the age of 3 and I used to think it irresponsible to have too many kids too close in age. So why? Why do I keep judging others? I think we judge when we don’t know others stories, their hearts, their vision. We judge when we are feeling fear, insecurity, and inferiority. When we judge we put up a wall between ourselves and that other person. Judgment is in so many ways the opposite of love because rather than connecting to someone we disconnect, stand on the outside and look in. In law, the judge is supposed to be completely removed from the situation.
We end up judging not only others but also ourselves. As I sat down to “unwind” this evening I found myself on Facebook and Instragram and before long I was feeling woefully inadequate compared to people who looked like they had enjoyed a better, healthier, fitter, “funner” or more productive day than I did. One mom was showing a picture of her new and improved biceps from hours of working out, another mom was posting recipes comprised solely of ingredients from her garden, another was out with some friends at a movie—they all looked so much more….well better than me. What had I done today? A text from a friend encouraging me snapped me out of my social media induced coma and I realized here I was again—comparing and judging both others and myself.
The Christian story is so amazing because the One who was The Judge came to be judged, on our behalf. Rather than standing at a distance He became one of us—he embodied love and perfect love, casting out fear which has to do with punishment and judgment. Now by the same Spirit rather than stand in judgment and fear I can love. And really this starts with me. Am I ok with who I am and who God has called me to be?
Being a mom has been the most humbling process and probably taught me more about living in love rather than fear, than anything else. And the most amazing part is that I have a Heavenly Father who does not judge me, and longs to love me in such a way as to cast out all fear. And that is what I want to do for my kids and for those around me.
As a wise husband of mine once said—comparison is of the devil, always. So the next time you watch a mom struggle with her 3 kids trying to buy toothpaste ask yourself: What she has been through today? If you are prophetically inclined ask Jesus for an encouraging word for her—even something as simple as—“you are doing a good job” can change someone’s day. Or if you find yourself judging you to be inadequate remember, the God of the Universe thought you were significant enough to die for. And ask Him—“who have you created me to be?” And then wait—because He has an answer that is better than we could ask for or even imagine.