We are excited to have another great article to post from guest blogger, Allison O.
I will probably always remember the Morning Meet-up where I was that mom. The one whose 4 year old pushed and hit way too many times and she didn’t do anything about it. I couldn’t do anything about it. It was more than a handful of times that morning that other moms had to speak directly to my son about what he had done to their children. I sat quietly with my back leaning against the wall and my newborn baby nursing herself to sleep, tears welling up in my eyes.
Mind reeling, the attacking self-talk began.
What had I done wrong? Was my parenting model flawed? Was I not executing it well enough? Was this third baby just too much for our family? What was wrong with my kid? Would he ever learn to control his own body and play lovingly with others? These other moms, their kids aren’t being violent, and they are available to navigate conflict with their kids. I probably shouldn’t have come this morning. These moms must be so annoyed at my absentee parenting and uncontrolled kid. This is humiliating.
I clenched my jaw and survived the playgroup by the thinnest of threads. Sighing with relief, I loaded myself up like a Sherpa to get our family out to the car at the end, weighed down by baby gear and self-inflicted shame.
Before I let myself think about what I was doing, I called one mama in the group who had interacted with my son several times that morning. I wanted to apologize, I said, for my son’s behavior, for not helping, for being generally useless this morning.
“Allison, it was nothing! This is parenting in community.”
To me, she was being inconvenienced and even wronged by my inability to be a hands-on parent that morning, but her perspective saw this as an opportunity to help a mom with a brand new baby who simply couldn’t be in two places at once. I felt her words filling the dark corners of my mind with light.
This is parenting in community. Several times since that morning this perspective has been exemplified to me by the community of parents at Woodland Hills. We don’t look at you, over there judging yourself for whatever reason, and think that it’s an ”us vs. them” situation. We look at you and think I know what that’s like; how can I help? It’s weird, I know, to allow others to help carry the burden of parenthood; we live in an “Each Man for Himself” culture where asking for help (or simply being helpless as I was that morning) is seen as weakness. But that is not to be our model. Needing help is an opportunity for others to show us the self-sacrificial love of Christ. It is humbling and hard at first, but it is not shameful.
Whether it is keeping eyes on each other’s children during bathroom breaks or stopping to pray over a mama having a particularly rough week, I have learned so very much about what it means to be the body of Christ from the parenting community at Morning Meet-up.