Occasionally, I read stories about a parent who comes across some other parent in a moment of desperation. They grab our attention by their yelling, shaming, or general parenting breakdowns.
What about all of those other parent moments? Ever catch a stranger just being an awesome parent?
I’m mostly surrounded by parents of children the same age as my own, so when I am around parents of older children I tend to watch closely.
The Tale of a Great Mom
My moms group hosted a guest speaker recently. This centered woman came to speak to us about her homeschooling experiences, and thus had her brood of three children all under the age of 7 in tow.
After nearly 45 minutes of entertaining themselves with a few reminders and play suggestions from their mom, the children had had their fill of being confined in this room with only one ball among them.
Their mom, aware of their declining ability to play without guidance, was answering questions and finishing up her points when her youngest came up to her, upset and complaining about his brother, and angrily made a half-hearted attempt to hit her.
Without hesitation, she abandoned her speaking duties and turned away from the group, giving her full attention to her son. From my unique vantage point, I could see and hear her say,
“Come here, give me a hug.”
There were no stern looks and squinted eyes in response to his anger, nor was there any hint of irritation at taking her away from her purpose at the meeting.
He, for his part, refused. He flailed and got louder, but she simply repeated herself. Again, he declined.
There before me stood two people. An angry, emotionally exhausted child, and a multi-tasking yet focused parent – a mom confident that she could reconnect with her son. She could have demanded he behave, solve it himself, or reject his feelings all together. But she didn’t.
Instead, she asked again. It was in the third ask – as earnest at the first – that her son leaned in and hugged her. She picked him up for the remainder of her talk.
At the end of the meeting, she also:
- checked in with each of her children
- told them the plan for what has happening next (i.e., “we are going to eat lunch,” etc.)
- made a plan to speak to one child outside “in the sunshine” (I can only assume about the jumping on the table and confrontation with his younger brother).
And while I think I have a better sense of what the homeschooling process involves – for at least one family- I have a VERY good sense of what a loving parent of three under pressure can look like.
There are many parents in our lives whom I admire, and I wonder how often they are acknowledged for responding to their children, well . . . as they should, with the kindness-offering connection and hope in a time of upset. So, while saying “thank you” sounds a bit corny, I’d like to say to the parent who waits contentedly while his child takes what can feel like 20 minutes to make a seemingly simple decision, to the parent who helps her child wipe up the accidentally spilled water on her lap, and all other parents like these, I appreciate you for the parent you are and the model you are to me.