I was in Trader Joe’s the other day with the kids, wearing Lincoln and herding one daffodil-carrying child while pushing the other in the cart. After a brief meltdown, all of them were being pretty good.
As we made our way down one aisle, a man watched me move Catalina out of the way of a cart and fix her hold on the bouquet of flowers. “You’re pretty good at that, aren’t you,” he said.
“You are,” I said to Catalina, thinking he was praising her care with the flowers.
“No, I meant you– taking care of all of them,” he said.
I was genuinely surprised. There was nothing remarkable about the way I was shepherding them through the store; we were having a nice chill shopping trip, but it had less to do with me and more to do with the snacks I was dealing.
“But for the grace of God,” I said. He just smiled, but I hoped he knew I meant it, too.
Fast forward to today. Nothing was going right. We got out of the house hours late to run fewer errands than were on my list, and had to skip the fun one. Lincoln woke up from what was supposed to be his morning nap to cry through the last couple errands. Lucy pulled the price bar off the salad display at the grocery store and Catalina spilled water twice at Subway. But whenever I was tempted to loose my cool, I thought of the man in Trader Joe’s, and remembered that I’m an ambassador for motherhood.
I was in a class once where a visiting speaker asked how many of us had had a positive example of marriage & family growing up. Four of the 20 people in the class raised our hands. I was shocked and saddened by that.
The encounter with the man in Trader Joe’s made me realize that my everyday actions could change that in a small way for those who see us.
Not that we as moms always have to be “on” at all times. Some mornings are rough, and it’s only God’s grace keeping everything together. But let them see that, too. Let them see us pause mid-meltdown, take a deep breath, and pray for the patience discipline fairly and keep loving no matter how horribly the morning is going.
I certainly wasn’t perfect, not in Trader Joe’s and not this morning. But I was so encouraged by the idea that simple interactions can sketch a brief picture of joyful motherhood for others.