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Dear Mama, I Have Seen That Look Before - iBelieve Truth: A Devotional for Women - March 31

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Dear Mama, I Have Seen That Look Before
By: Maggie Meadows Cooper

I have seen that look on your face before. The time your child totally burped while the Sunday School teacher was praying and proceeded to have an ugly attitude when asked to stop. The time your two-year-old fell on the grocery store floor rolling and flailing while screaming like a wild banshee. The time your tween daughter talked back to you in front of a group of "important" women. The time your child colored all over the wall while your boss was standing at the door talking to you...and watching him. The times you tell your children it's time to go, and you wait... and wait... and wait... and wait... as others watch in judgment of how you will handle this disobedience. I know what it looks like because I have been there myself.

It's a mix of exasperation, anger, impatience, embarrassment, guilt, shame, and frustration all rolled into one. And it stinks. You don't like having that look on your face or feeling the way you do any more than I do. But if you have kiddos, it has happened before, and it will happen again. So hang in there. And as you're hanging on, think about this:

Your child's behavior is not necessarily a reflection of your parenting

Read that again and take it to heart: 

Your child's behavior is not necessarily a reflection of your parenting.

You can be the most disciplined, routined, on-top-of-everything mom in the world, and your children will still misbehave. And do you know why? 

Because they are little sinners...

like their big sinner mamas. 

"For I was born a sinner--yes, from the moment my mother conceived me." - Psalm 51:5 NLT

Y’all, the Bible tells us we came into the world with sin in our hearts. We are not inherently good. Paul says, "And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can't." (Romans 7:18

And that's why we need Jesus

And that's why our little people need Jesus too.

So what do we do with that? Do we need to stop disciplining to the best of our ability and leading our babies the best we know how? Of course not! But, we do need to cut each other some slack.

I have been known to go to great lengths in order to make a trip to the grocery store...or any store for that matter...BY MYSELF.  Do you know why? Is it so I won't spend as much money? Partly. So I can get done quickly instead of making an extended vacation in the cookie or toy aisle? Maybe. But do you want to know the real reason? 

Because I don't want to face the accusing eyes of others when my children misbehave. 

When one asks for something and I say no and the whining and complaining begin... when one is running and jumping and sliding down the dairy aisle to see how far he can make it on socks (don't ask)...when one refuses to sit in the buggy and manages to roll all over the nasty floor. I don't want to feel the shame and embarrassment of feeling like I'm not enough. 

My husband and I discipline and lead and guide the best we know how. But yall, kids are kids, and by golly, some do things you can't EVER prepare for! And I'll say it...some days I am too tired to care. I let things slip. I give too many chances. I try to change behavior instead of their hearts. And they misbehave.

But my days are not all bad. 

Some days I go to the store and they act perfectly (very rare, but still). They stay by the buggy. They thank me for what I get them. They act kind to each other and don't make any embarrassing bodily noises or pull any boogers to rub on my arm (only the two-year-old does that at this point). And I'm tempted to pat myself on the back and be excited that I've got it all together. But I don't. And I can do more harm than good by thinking I do.

So here's what I say. Let's band together. When you see that mama with that familiar look on her face, don't look the other way. And don't look at her like you pity her. Smile at her. Tell her you get it. It doesn't matter if you know her. Just say in passing, "I feel ya' girl." And if it is one of your friends, give her a hug and come beside her. If she's had enough, tell her to go take a break and step in for a few minutes. Tell her little whiner to go play and mama will be right back. Let the tantrum on the floor continue if need be. Tell that wild boy to cool it and head outside. 

But look on her with love, not judgment.

Speak out of compassion, not condemnation.

Listen thoughtfully, not pridefully offering your great advice on how your children behave.

And most of all, point her to Jesus.

Maggie Meadows Cooper is a wife, mother, educator, author, and blogger with a longing for women to grow a heart for Jesus and others. She is the author of the children’s book Bumper, helping others to see that the heart is what counts most. She blogs at The Little Moments about what the Lord is teaching her in everyday life and contributes to Blogs by Christian Women, Devotional Diva, She Disciples, and Connecting Ministries. An educator with a M. Ed. in Early Childhood Education from Auburn University (War Eagle!), she has eighteen years of experience teaching and currently serves as a Parent Coordinator in the Opelika City Schools. She loves all things chocolate, real Coca-Cola, and leading the FBCO Teen Moms group. She lives with her husband, three children, and two rambunctious dogs in Opelika, Alabama.

Related Resource: Spring Clean Your Life: 10 Simple Tips for a Joyful Home & Work Life

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