At a recent homeschool gathering, my typically pleasant five-year-old was monstrously out of sorts. He had a crying meltdown when he got “out” in a game. He fidgeted around and interrupted at lesson time. He shrugged me off when I tried redirecting him with a touch on the shoulder. At lunchtime, I brought his bag to the table. He responded with, “I wanted to do thaaat.” You get the picture. Majorly bundled undies.
Now the moms at this group are seriously fabulous. They get it. Kids have bad days just like adults. I’m pretty sure no one was bothered much by Gray’s behavior that day.
But I was.
I felt rejected because my boy who typically responds favorably to my touch and quiet voice had pushed me away. I felt embarrassed because he’s five and I wish he could accept something like getting “out” of a stinking round of Simon Says.
I tried not to let on that I was bothered. I helped my other two boys (who still liked me) get set up for lunch and ate beside them.
A mom at the next table– a mom that I had only just met, saw through my veil. She joined me at the table and said something about her daughter having days like that too. She gave a few examples of tantrums and meltdowns to reassure me, and we laughed about how absurd kids can be.
And though I can’t exactly recall the words she spoke, I remember the message–
She didn’t come over to offer advice about how I should handle my kid, or ask how much sleep or screen time or Red 40 he’d been having. Just, Me too.
The simple message of Me too might be the greatest gift anyone has given me, as a friend, a wife, a mother. I can hear the voices of friends who offered those words of encouragement, who related and empathized.
When my new coach never played me in basketball games.
When I was fresh out of college and couldn’t find a teaching job.
When my marriage was threadbare.
When I couldn’t have a natural birth. When my son was born with a kidney malformation. When I struggled with postpartum depression.
Me too. Me too. Me too.
Those two short words have sustained me. They’ve grounded me in seasons of confusion and grief. They’ve sown seeds of hope and redemption.
Who in your circle is struggling right now, at this very moment? Maybe today could be an opportunity for you to deliver a message they so need to hear…
Your kid can destroy a room in under thirty seconds?
Your dog swallowed an entire pair of underwear?
My favorite pair has been missing for a month!
You forgot to turn off the burner when the bacon was done?
By golly, I nearly set the kitchen ablaze!
We are all subject to this bewildering human experience. Let’s do it together with a smile and a pat on the back. Let’s pay attention to one another so that we can show up at the perfect moment and offer what we all really need– a fire extinguisher, a brand new pair of undies, and a few short, but life-giving words…