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Encouragement in the Trenches {aka Running Errands with Little Ones}

Running Errands with Little OnesShe was starting to look pretty worn out. She was working hard to be firm but gentle with him. But, I could hear just a little edge to her warning this time. I’d been criss-crossing paths with her in the grocery aisles for the last half-hour or so.

Her wee man was probably around three-years-old.  Old enough to be mobile and want to explore. But young enough to still be lacking in the self-control  department. She had warned him several times to stay with her. And not to touch the jars on the shelf.

Now he was in the cart. Yep, you guessed it… he had lost the “privilege” of being free and mobile. And he didn’t like it. He was fussing and people were giving them sideways glances. Her pace quickened as she tried to get the last items on her list and keep her little guy at bay as he whined and pleaded for another chance on the ground.

I bet you can relate. Especially if you have an “energetic” one. When my guy was a preschooler, he put me to the test - often. I was not one of those parents who could go to the park and read a book while my kids played tag on the playground. Caleb would have been in the creek. Or punching any rule-breakers in the gut. (Ahem, he may or may not have done that on the soccer field that one time when he was three.) Then, there was the time he pulled the fire alarm at the library – emptying the entire place because no one knew who did it. And that one time that he reached up, smacked me in the face and ran out of the front of the used-clothing store – he was in the parking lot before I caught up with him. Or the time he locked himself in the bathroom for the babysitter – who managed to coax him out by slipping treats under the door.

No, he didn’t have any behavioral disorders. And, no we weren’t permissive, overly-indulgent parents. He is just a lot like his Dad – intense, energetic, curious, and very strong-willed. His second-grade teacher once told us that she fully expected to hear of him becoming president or changing the world in some “big splash” sort of fashion someday.

Well, that is all well and good for “someday” but it can be pretty tiring for mom in the “here and now.” Especially when none of the other moms want to sit with the two of you at story time {wink}.

So, why am I telling you all of this? Not because I have a post of tips for that weary mom. This is for those of you that find yourselves sharing the aisles with weary mom. She needs encouraged. Being a good mom is hard work. And, if you took the time to ask her, she'd tell you that most of the time she feels like she's barely keeping up. Especially when the kids are in the preschool years and fruit of her labor isn't very noticeable yet.

So, next time you’re criss-crossing paths with a weary mom in the grocery aisle, just stop and notice her. Take the time and risk the awkwardness to give her a few words of encouragement. It would have made my day if someone would have looked at me and told me I was doing a good job in those moments that I had to wrestle my son back into the cart. But, notice I said "words of encouragement" and not "words of advice." (There are certainly times to advise, mentor, and exhort. This probably isn't one of them.) Be slow to judge and quick to offer a kind word. If you're past that mom-stage, try to remember what it was like. If you're in it, realize that you're not alone.

Breathe some life into those tired sails for today and, if you can, offer her some hope and vision for the future. As her son grows into a teenager, she just might find that his intensity is an asset – like when he wants to go serve needy kids in places like Africa or the inner-city or help a struggling classmate at school.

Well, when he’s not in lunch detention… hypothetically speaking.



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