I finally, finally started to put myself in the place of these bullies--guess what. Not everyone has my and my children's best interest at heart. Which means (surprise, surprise for the incredibly vain Abigail Benjamin)I do not have to drink in everyone's "helpful" suggestions for my Holy Vocation of Motherhood.
Discernment of Spirits--I'm trying to better separate the wheat from the shaft.
The next day, God immediately gave me three totally different encounters to test my working theory. (He's all about experiential learning, that Father of ours!)
A Safeway employee becomes (in my mind) overly concerned about my four year old's safety while she stands in a shopping cart and demands to be taken out. I'm on a critical mission to find Benedryll for my six year old son who is suffering from "clown's ear" (red, swollen to 4 times its natural size) after a spider bite. I tell 4 year old to "wait a moment" and tell the Safeway employee "she's fine right now". I return to my search for the hidden Benedryll. The employee gently takes my four year old out of the cart and puts her on the floor. I'm annoyed inside, but I make a genuine effort to smile at the employee. She smiles back and we mutually coo over my 4 babies.
Take way lesson: When people have my kid's best interest at heart it shows.
I put all three of my kids on folding chairs by the grocery store doors and immediately start feeding my son Benedryll after checkout. A Father shows up and we have a heartfelt exchange about the beauty of children. It's so beautiful that even my 8 year old remarks "Mom, no one ever talks to us like that!" We exchanged "God Bless you" at the end. It was a beautiful moment.
Take away lesson: Some people love me and my kids! What a gift!
I make a judgement call to leave Tess strapped into the cart with her 8 year old sister while I carried in some bulky, awkward to carry items to our car. (This unfamiliar grocery store didn't allow you to take the grocery carts into the parking lot) As I came back, I heard a woman loudly say "Who would do that? Who leaves their baby alone in a cart like that?"
"Hello!" I called out in a firm and friendly way. In that one word I said "I heard exactly what you said. I'm here and I've got the situation under control."
The lady who spoke left without turning around. Her companion stopped to give me a long, evil look. I could see that she was very poor and very stressed. I nodded my head to her. Finally, she started to move away. I notice after they leave that neither lady had demonstrated any concern for my children, the only purpose of that comment was to pour contempt onto me.
Take away lesson three: Stand up to bullies.
When we got everyone loaded into the car, I noticed something REALLY cool. I wasn't stressed. I wasn't yelling at my kids.
I really think that probably 70% of my problem "losing my temper" with my kids is a direct result of my own vanity. I want them to behave 100% of the time so that "I don't get into trouble" with distant family members and random strangers.
I told Jesus at Mass yesterday that I'm not sure if I can always be as holy in my interaction with bullies. But I am willing to risk a greater "lack of charity" with total strangers (and be seen publicly as the not-so-good Christian Mom) if it meant that I could be more charitable, more kind and more patient with my own dear kids.