I pray that when you are older, when your nest is empty, that you will remember the hard days. The days of raising young boys and toddlers and babies. The tired and busy days that accompany mothering the small ones. So that when you go to Wal-Mart, and you see the stressed, pregnant mother, the one with two small boys in the cart that looks too heavy to push, that you smile and offer kindness.
Especially if the two-year-old is screaming and standing in the cart, throwing things out of the cart, tears streaming down his little chubby-cheeked face. Remember that she is doing the best that she can. That, though she is smiling and looks to be ignoring the distressed toddler, that may be the very thing that this two-year-old and his mother need. You may not be aware of the stress of her day, that she is not even supposed to be picking up anything over 20 pounds (that includes toddlers), and that to stop and pick up her child not only worsens the screaming, but could put her unborn child at risk as well. Realize that if she is still at the store with a crying babe, that she must really need to get those items in her cart.
Remember that half of the store has already given her dirty looks, shaken their heads. That one shopper may have even offered praise to the four year old for behaving, only to turn and, in a nasty, passive-aggressive manner, let the mother know that she hopes the "other one" learns to control his temper and learn from his brother. Remember, oh, how hard those days were.
Then I hope you choose to be another woman, the one who remembers. I hope you turn and smile at that beautiful mother, the one who wears a smile to hide the embarrassment and worry, and be one of the ones who tell her, "I've been there, too! Hang in there. It gets better. You're doing the most important work." Offer to help her, talk sweetly to her children, wipe a tear-stained face. Love her without judging her, because she needs that. Remember, and smile, because you were there too. And there were so many good moments before and after that hard, ugly one, that made mothering a joy. The time to sit and read a story, the tucking in and kisses goodnight. The "I love you's" and the laughter. It is there too. It's just so hard to see in the middle of Wal-Mart with a screaming child.