Running outside during the summer months in Alabama can be downright miserable. So call me crazy but it's cheaper than a gym membership, keeps me sane, and gets me out of the house with my little man. I do, however, plan my summer runs for the first thing in the morning, which helps.
I can still remember one such morning like it was yesterday. It was already pretty hot outside as I unloaded Owen and began buckling him into the stroller. I did make sure Owen had a cup of ice water sitting with him. I always do.
I was about a minute into my warmup when I spotted him- an older gentleman walking his dog on the path and heading in our direction. I immediately pointed out the dog to Owen. As we got closer to the man on the path, I locked eyes with him. This usually means that someone has to speak a greeting (we do live in the south). The man opened his mouth first. I was expecting a pleasant, "good morning" or just a simple, "hello." What I ended up getting was completely different.
"It's too hot outside for kids."
I was a bit startled and answered after several seconds with a flat response of, "Yes, it's hot."
Then as I continued past the man I began fuming. I began imagining what I should have said. Well, not what I should have said because it would have been equally rude if not hateful. I remember wishing I had responded with, "Yes, it's too hot for grumpy opinionated old men and dogs, too."
My point is that I heard the condemnation in the man's voice. He might as well have said, "You're a terrible mother." I mean, what else was he getting at? He was basically telling me, in not so many words, that he thought I needed to have my child inside and completely disagreed with what I was in the middle of doing. It didn't matter to him that I didn't ask for his opinion.
He didn't know that my run was only going to be 30 minutes. He didn't know that I had just managed to wake, feed, clothe, and pack in under 15 minutes this morning so that Owen and I wouldn't be "too hot." He couldn't possibly have understood that, with my husband out of town on a youth trip, these would be the only minutes in my day that were for me. There are so many things that he didn't and will never know about me.
So why do I share this story? Is it because I want to get on my soapbox? Is it because I'm sick and tired of these types of backhandedly rude and judgmental comments? If you are a mom then you probably know the ones I'm talking about. Perhaps you are guilty of making them yourself. I've only been a mother for a little over two years and I've heard plenty from numerous sources.
In the grocery store for example, "Haven't you asked your mommy for a haircut?" (These are my favorite because they are directed as questions toward my child like he's going to respond. Seriously? Just ask me why I haven't cut his hair. I'll give you the long saga OR just keep your mouth shut.)
"Aren't his feet cold." (It was 80 degrees outside.)
"Oh, he needs shoes." (Actually, he doesn't. Don't you people know that babies who aren't walking aren't supposed to wear shoes?)
Do people realize what's going on when they make comments like this? I really have no clue, but I'm not sharing to get on a soapbox. I'm not sharing to make you feel guilty if you have made one of the above statements or something similar (although, maybe now you will refrain). I share because I know I'm not the only mom on the receiving end of such jibes.
It's unfortunate that these comments get thrown on top of a growing pile of condemnation that weigh on a mother's heart. I know that they get under my skin. I wish they didn't. However, after they sit for a while, they feed that little voice of doubt that I already have. Then they hurt my feelings or make me feel inadequate.
Today, I want to take a moment and shut that voice up.
I want instead to hear the voice of my Heavenly Father.
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:1
I want to know that in Christ, I've got this "mom thing" because I have all I'll ever need. I'm doing great. There is no condemnation for me. Christ is my hope. He is my identity. He is my unending love and acceptance.
Children are precious gift and there are way more important things to consider than the length of their hair, the clothing they wear (or don't wear), the way they are fed, where and if they sleep, or what theme they had for their birthday party. The most important thing I can do is point my children towards Christ.
May I today (and every day) allow His loving voice to wash over me and echo through my heart. May it drown out all condemnation and doubt. May it fill me with peace, confidence, and grace.