Monday, March 31, 2008

the mall

“NO!” the little girl screams, arching her back and falling out of her Mother’s arms.

The young Mom has three little ones, and I read the exhaustion in her eyes as she tries to put the little girl in the stroller. She thrashes out of her reach again, and this time, the weary Mom just sits down on the floor next to her other two children. Tears spring to my eyes unexpectedly. It seems like just yesterday that was me. I was that overwhelmed Mom at the mall.

The noisy boys must have been around three when we had our Big Episode.

“We’re all going to smile nicely for the picture,” I explained. “This is a special picture for Grandpa’s birthday.”

Twin B. didn’t want to go to the mall. He didn’t like having his picture taken.

“If everyone is good,” I continued, “we’ll go to McDonalds for lunch.”

I pulled into the mall parking lot, anxious to meet my sister-in-law and her girls. The noisy boys were happy to see their cousins, but Twin B. was still scowling. He managed to hold it together until the photographer told everyone to take off their shoes.

“NO!” he screamed.

“Remember, B. if you cooperate we’ll go to McDonalds for lunch.”

“I don’t want to take off my shoes!” he yelled.

And it just got worse from there. He screamed and cried through the entire picture taking session, even after we let him keep his shoes on. I wanted to crawl in a hole and hide with a martini. Make that a double.

Leaving the mall that day, I half dragged him through the department store toward the exit. “We’re leaving, B. We can’t stay and have lunch at McDonalds because you didn’t cooperate for the picture."

Looking back, maybe I should have waited until we were in the car to remind him of his consequence. Because at that point, all hell broke loose.

A security guard actually stopped us in the store, “Is everything okay here?” He asked.

“He’s having a temper tantrum because we’re not going to McDonalds,” I explained, suddenly grateful that my boys look so much like me.

“Is this your Mom?” He asked Twin A.

“Yes.” He said, thank the Lord.

“And this is your brother?”

“Yes.”

"Oh, they're twins," he noticed. “Good luck, Ma’am.”

We survived that day, the noisy boys and I. It was horrible in a million different ways, but we survived.

I didn’t always cope well when the noisy boys were little, and today, I see myself there, sitting on that mall floor unsure of what to do next. And so I stop and the overwhelmed Mom and I lock eyes. “You will survive this,” I tell her. “Hang tough. All the Moms in this mall are on your side.”

We both smile. I hold the stroller while she buckles her screaming daughter in.

And I cry at the beauty of God's grace right there in the middle of the mall. Because whether we recognize it or not, it really is enough.

19 comments:

Stacey @ Happy Are We said...

Good on you for being what that mom needed just then.

There are, unfortunately, too many people who would not have stopped to share a kind word, but would have been ready with impatient stares. I see those people all too often when I'm out with my 5 kids. I try to be like you, though, and give what little I can in the way of encouragement and strength to other moms. Sometimes even just a little can mean a whole lot.

NaNcY said...

now this just up and made me cry.

FrazzMom said...

I soooo remember those days.

What a difference it makes when we know we're not alone! It may have only taken a moment of your time, but you made that mom's day better...

Don Mills Diva said...

This made me tear up - good for you for reaching out - the world would be a better place if we all did.

Erika Haub said...

Wow. I am still in that place where I need to hear that we all will survive this :) Thanks for giving me that message from a distance.

Craver Vii said...

Nicely done. My oldest was a very easy to manage 6-yr-old (from Mrs. C's first marriage) and it was very easy for this young dad to think (erroneously) that if the parent does such-and-such, it will be better. Thankfully, I kept my mouth shut, and God gave me other children who would teach me that children do not necessarily act out because of their upbringing. A painful lesson, but a good one.

ChosenRebel said...

Thank you.

L.L. Barkat said...

This is why I never went to the mall. And somehow it has stuck. My kids are growing up mall-ignorant. : )

Llama Momma said...

Stacey -- You're probably right, though I like to think that as Moms, we ARE all on the same side!

Nancy -- Sorry about that. I think.

FrazzMom -- It does make a difference, doesn't it? I know firsthand how much a kind word or a helping hand mean.

Don Mills Diva -- Yes.

Llama Momma said...

Erika -- You will survive this. :-)

Craver -- If there's anything I've learned as a Mom, it's to hold my tongue AND critical thoughts. My boys are very well mannered, but still -- for all little ones -- if lunch or nap is late, it can all go south quickly! I can count our big temper tantrums on one hand, but you better believe I remember every single one of them.

Chosen Rebel -- for what? The story, I assume.

LL -- I'm not a mall person either. We went this week to make a return and I realized we hadn't been in over a year...no loss.

Llama Momma said...

LL -- Though I'll add that when they were toddlers, this was a regular stop for us since there is a big children's play area at our mall. And in the winter, this is such a good things with the little ones!! I can't say that I miss it, though, now that we're in school!

spaghettipie said...

I love seeing your heart and that you would take the opportunity to be an encouragement to a stranger. So glad you were on the lookout for opportunities to embody His grace.

Llama Momma said...

SP -- I am deliberate about keeping my eyes open, wherever I am. God's grace is too good to hoard. :-)

chrissy said...

How many mom's could have used true encouragement like this! Simply amazing! You are amazing Llama Mamma, how wonderful to take time out of your busy schedule to help others! I know I have wanted to but didn't, why not, I really don't know?! Way to be a kind, caring, compassionate, loving, caring person, you are amazing!

Mommy Cracked said...

God bless you for helping her. I never realized all the nasty looks a person could get for a screaming child until I had one of my own. You rock!

Llama Momma said...

chrissy -- I don't think of this as amazing at all. I know that the times I was in that spot and someone simply SMILED at me made a huge difference to me!!

Mommy Cracked -- Yes. Which is why I always go out of my way to encourage other moms anytime I can -- especially when they have a screaming child on their hands! Because there is nothing more humbling than being out in public with a screaming child. Nothing.

ChosenRebel said...

The story. Grace is a wonderful thing.

John-Michael said...

You and I do not know each other ... but Lee Ann over at Frazz Mom, called you her "real-life-and-in-person-good-friend" amd that was enough to send me scooting over to see who could rate such a place of respect and honor (yes! I am THAT impressed with her.)

And I quickly discovered why she feels as she does. You exemplify all that I invest my life's entirety in encouraging my world to be. I instantly Love You!

(and I like "who-you-are", too [smile])

addhumorandfaith said...

Is there a parent alive who can't identify with this? I especially "get" the picture taking thing. My favorite picture of my kids when they were little was taken after they had fought EVERYTHING leading up to that miracle moment when they looked like angels -- hair combing, what to wear, even how the photographer wanted them to stand! I can never look at that picture without remembering all that went before it!