So at the big annual Catholic Fest in Wickliffe, I had a chance to meet and get to know a mom I’d never met before. Her husband had known mine when they were younger–they were from the same hometown–and so we stopped to talk to them.
Sometimes in meeting another mom for the first time, it’s like we are sizing them up, or they’re sizing us up or we think they are… And sometimes we walk away feeling inadequate… You know that whole comparing their best foot forward with all the weaknesses we know about ourselves.
And from appearances, this situation had the potential to be like that. Here was this mom, probably almost ten years younger than me, with three small kids, each spaced 18 months apart so probably on their way to a nice big family; she’s beautiful, thin despite having a five month old, feeding her kids ants on a log where I have a bag of chips.
But as we began to talk, one of our first conversations was about why it always seemed our kids were the only ones squirming in Mass while everyone else’s sat quietly.
So this young mom was happy to be authentic with me right out of the gate. And when you have two moms willing to just be authentic, it’s easy to form a real friendship.
In fact, this mom, whom I had just met, and I talked about all sorts of things. Childbirth and NFP, adoration, nursing, tandem nursing and–
Now this was where I experienced a moment of grace and learning for me, and to practice something I had just recently come to realize. It’s about our parenting choices. It’s about not judging another moms parenting choices. I guess in some ways I be struggled with this because I choose, like we all do, what I think is right and best. And if we think it’s right, I guess it makes sense that we think everyone should choose that.
But what I’ve come to realize is that we all have to choose what’s best for our family. And our families, our temperaments, their temperaments, the number of kids we have, our own upbringing…. It’s different for us all. So what works best will be different for us all.
So when I confessed that I don’t believe in letting babies cry and she said she was the exact opposite, I was ok with that. And so was she. And I didn’t have my usual reaction of secretly feeling sorry for her kids or even try to find a gentle way to win her over to my side. We just kept talking–about our faith, our kids and all sorts of things.
And when we said goodbye I left that interaction with her feeling–uplifted.
Not bad, not wishing to validate myself, not critical of her or her choices as a way to make myself feel better about her seeming perfections.
And I saw a real example of how when we dare to be authentic with each other, grace follows. Grace that we as moms so desperately need. We need to know that we are all imperfect. And that is just fine.
Then, we can truly begin to form bonds with each other that are based on faith, hope, and love . . .and real authentic friendship.
P.S. I was very inspired with them as a Catholic couple so I have endeavored to support their ministry. If you’re curious about their efforts to proclaim their faith from the housetops, check out their Catholic t-shirt business at housetoptees.com.