I was at a movie theater once and some lady turned around and yelled at my kid for kicking the back of her seat. She was obviously having a bad day.
She was loud. Loud like, I was a few rows back and I heard her as did the rest of the people in the theater.
Another awkward moment.
If her life was anything like mine, I’ll bet she was looking forward to a couple of peaceful hours in a movie theater instead of being cooped up at home with her kids.
So when she got to the theater and got everyone situated–after solving disputes over Milk Duds or Skittles–the last thing she wanted to deal with was some kid sitting behind her kicking her chair.
Totally get it.
But she’d screamed at my kid.
I love him. And no one yells at him except me.
I could’ve been embarrassed and concluded I was a lame parent.
But, I refused to be ashamed of my kid. Or of my parenting skills.
I wasn’t going to let shame steal my joy that day.
[bctt tweet=”I wasn’t going to let shame steal my joy that day.” username=”sheila_qualls”]
And, here’s why:
- I believe “therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). And that includes me.
- So, I was kind to myself, and I was able to be kind to her, too.
- When I feel ashamed, I can’t be kind to myself.
- Shame only has power, if I let it.
- When I feel ashamed, I lose sense of connection. I let go of who I am for who I think I ought to be. Then I behave badly. Very badly.
Taking out a small loan to watch a cartoon and eat popcorn was enough joy stealing for one day.
I wasn’t there for me. And she wasn’t there for her. We were there for our kids.
By the time I’d sat down, I was so exhausted I didn’t even argue when my kids asked if they could sit in the row in front of me and pretend like they were at the theater by themselves.
I’d just snuggled up with my popcorn when she turned around and screamed at my kid. “Stop kicking my seat!”
Her three kids seemed as shocked as I was. Their mouths gaped open as she yelled at my kid like he was their brother.
Or they could’ve been shocked because they’d just witnessed some lady hurdle a row of seats with the agility of a black panther and land right behind their momma in a low squat, ninja-style.
(Okay, maybe that’s not quite how it went.)
But, I wanted to position myself so I could speak quietly into her ear.
I saw the excitement drain from my son’s face, and I didn’t want to make a bigger scene.
I told her the little boy sitting behind her–kicking her seat—was my child. And, I would’ve gladly corrected his behavior, if I’d realized what he was doing and had been given the opportunity.
I know my son was excitable; he was a little boy.
He jumped up and down while he watched TV, talked incessantly, constantly touched stuff, and sometimes — when his feet couldn’t reach the ground because he was sitting in a chair—he’d involuntarily flail his legs out in front of him.
And if something was in front of him, like her chair, he was going to kick it. Not to annoy her. That’s just what kids do. I’m explaining his behavior not excusing it.
She was probably miserable throughout the entire movie and embarrassed by her behavior because she waited for me by the exit to explain herself and apologize.
I’d sat through the entire movie on high alert, too. I was mad, at first. But, by the time the movie was over, I’d had time to calm down and remind myself of things I know are true about me instead of being embarrassed and reacting to who she thought I was.
So instead of yelling back at her, I:
- Gave her the benefit of the doubt.
- Reminded myself I’m a responsible mom.
- Reminded myself all our kids do things we wish they wouldn’t, so I didn’t need to be ashamed of mine.
- Reminded myself and told her, I’ve had my share of awkward moments as a mom.
- Accepted her apology. And, told my son to apologize to her, too.
I realized she was just a frazzled mom, like me.
Maybe she’d had a fight with her husband, or someone had peed on her couch that morning or maybe she’d stuck her hand into an empty potato chip bag someone had left on the counter all puffed up so it gave the impression it still had chips in it.
Who knows. But when she arrived at the movie theater and some kid started kicking her seat, maybe that was the last straw.
I get it.
I’ve had more than my share of “oh-I-wish-I-hadn’t-said/done-that” moments. Like most moms, I get overwhelmed and stressed, too. And, too many times I wish I could rewind my behavior.
I didn’t want her to feel bad or ashamed either. She’s probably not lame as a parent. And, she’s probably a nice lady.
Mommy shaming is just another reason in the mommy universe for us to feel bad about ourselves as moms. So I extended grace to her because I would’ve wanted someone to do the same for me.
One small step for moms; one revolutionary leap for motherhood.
Comment below, and tell me about a moment you wish you could’ve taken back.
Keeping it real,