Friday, March 13, 2015

You Have the Right to Remain Silent

Romans 1:29-31 They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

I just recently read an amazing blog about this beautiful family. Their youngest son has a condition called Dystonia: a neuromuscular condition that affects his ability to walk. His parents had just left the hospital and were getting his prescriptions filled.

It was a beautiful summer day and our little boy slept in the carrier as we walked to the pharmacy to fill his prescriptions. Standing on the corner waiting for the light to change, I became so lost in thought pondering what could be wrong with my precious boy that I almost didn’t hear her.
My husband’s abrupt “Excuse me!?” snapped me out of it. I looked up to see the whole street corner staring at us. I felt immediate confusion by the appalled look on the woman’s face. What happened? Did we do something wrong? I could think of nothing. We were just standing there waiting for the light. She had aggressive body language, matched only by the angry look on my husband’s face. “I said he’s old enough to walk,” she said gesturing to my child sleeping soundly against my husband’s chest. I stood looking at her my mouth literally gaping. Did she really just say that? People were staring at us, waiting to hear what we had to say. I instantly became self-conscious. I wondered if everyone felt this way? I spent the last week in a nightmare and had just been told my sweet child probably has a mysterious neurological disorder. Now I felt like the whole world was judging me for it...
Standing on this corner looking at this woman, I tried to think of something clever to say to make her understand. But, in my emotionally exhausted state, the only thing that came was stunned silence. My husband, however, was not as lost for words as I. He said to her softly, yet firmly, “Not that it’s any of your business, but he has some neurological issues and was just released from the hospital earlier today. So no, he can’t walk right now.” There was an audible gasp amongst the audience. No one expected this response and all eyes turned to the woman to hear what she would say next. 

She was stunned. Her indignant self-righteousness was fading, but not gone. She looked at my husband still holding her aggressive posture and said flippantly, “Well, I didn’t know that.” I was surprised by this response. It was as if her lack of knowledge made her actions justifiable. “No, you didn’t,” My husband retorted. “And you may want to consider that fact the next time you feel the urge to walk up to parents and publicly judge and insult them. We are doing everything possible for our sick child. The ONLY one not doing him any favours is you.” And with that she turned around and ran away. 
 Anytime I go to the grocery store with Jminator I take the following things: a bottle of almond milk (or something for him to drink), snacks, and my Ergo. One all of those things will come in handy. Inevitably, he will want to be held. I'm totally fine with it, but that's where the Ergo comes in because he's heavy, and I need to be able to use my arms. Every time. Every single time he's in that thing someone will come up and say something. From the older lady who states, "We didn't have those things when I had children; they just had to walk." to the older (creepy) dude who wants to "help" me put it on. To the lady who admittedly didn't have any children but thought I was spoiling him by holding him all the time.

When you go to Walmart, it becomes a parenting free-for-all. I say that because where we live, most of the time when you go during the day, the majority of the population is either retired folks, or moms. Also inevitably, is a child having a rough day. They could be throwing a fit in an aisle, a baby crying for some reason, an older child asking for something repeatedly, whatever. And there will always be someone who has an opinion on that scenario.

I've been that mom. Especially before I had kids. Normally, I'd think, "man, my mom would have beaten the crap out of me by now." And I've been guilty more than once of looking at J and saying, "don't get any ideas." My sensitive son is a bit of a sympathy crier; he won't cry in the nursery until someone else cries.

Annnnddd....Queue the day where my angelic, well-behaved son had a total meltdown in the cereal aisle for no apparent reason. He was fed, changed, had just had a nap, and was happy 4 seconds earlier. And there was no fix; he refused to be consoled. He didn't want to be held, so I did what all other moms end up doing... I finished my shopping as fast as humanly possible. He eventually stopped - only to restart again while in the checkout line.

Everyone has an opinion. That day I got so many dirty looks from other moms that I actually started staring back. I heard the words, "spoiled" "stupid" and a number of exasperated sighs from people as if they were the one having to deal with the meltdown. I wasn't enjoying my day anymore than they were, but at the time, I was just happy I had stopped throwing up long enough to buy food.

I get that kids can be annoying. They cry, spit up, throw fits, get angry for what seems like no reason for us adults. Throw in any amount of processing issues, learning disabilities, health issues, and it can only complicate things further. But instead of just deciding that they're just "a bad kid" and wanting to help by giving advice, how about you help by keeping your mouth shut? Or better yet, actually helping.

I will never forget one day J was having a serious issue. I knew he was tired. I had so much to do that day, and I packed the normal accoutrements, but we were also out of food and not shopping wasn't an option. He was upset, and I went to get his bottle, but dropped it. The nicest lady just picked up the bottle and handed it to me - saving me from having to bend down or squat with him in the Ergo. She just smiled and said, "momma, we've all been there. It won't be forever." I almost started to cry. I had been tired also, full of morning sickness, and just wanted to go home and sleep. Her kindness went so much further to me than the 10 other people who gave me dirty looks, huffed and puffed, or scolded about my parenting skills.

I love how God refers to the people "who have no understanding, no love, and no mercy" as God-haters. The ones who just assume, judge, and condemn without any kind of compassion of what's going on. I think He uses that term just to clarify that HE isn't like that. HE sees the whole picture and has NEVER written anyone off.

I challenge all of you, instead of coming to any kind of conclusion about someone before you know their story, keep your opinions to yourself. If you feel you must do something: help. I love what Raising Dystonia writes:

The eight-year old girl who was saying mean things at her mum in the kitchen store was angry that her dad had just been deployed to war. The mum who was indulging her son with candy every time he fussed was fighting cancer and had no energy for a battle of wills. The dad who was on his phone at the park while his son begged to be pushed on the swing had just lost his mother. In years past, I might have silently disapproved of these interactions. But because of one mean stranger I was able to offer words of encouragement, load a tired cancer patient’s car for her and push a grieving man’s son on the swing.

Today, I am also thankful for those that have criticized me behind my back - or at least they thought I couldn't hear them, those that go through far more struggles than I, and those that I can help encourage. I pray that we all get a nap, a break, or a piece of chocolate that we don't have to share with little fingers. 

Have a great weekend, mommas.



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