Edge of 30
By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
I remember going to a Mexican restaurant with my husband a couple years ago. The place was mostly empty, but the server sat us next to a family with young children. Irritated, I asked the server to move us to a quieter location. My husband, Chris, thought I was being rude. I thought I was being reasonable in my request.
When I look back on that now, I cringe. I can imagine how that family must have felt. I know my husband was horribly embarrassed.
While I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions last year, the birth of my son, Bradley, was transformative nonetheless. Amidst the personal growth I experienced, I developed a compassion for parents and children that I really didn’t have before.
I’m ashamed to admit that I wasn’t keen on kids all that much until I had my own. I can’t explain why. Maybe it was less about their sometimes rowdy behavior and more about jealousy. These parents had children and I wasn’t sure if I could have any children of my own. I’d silently judge the parents and think, “If I had children, I’d be able to handle them better. I’d appreciate them more.”
But, whatever the reason, I now look at parents with a spirit of camaraderie. I know what they are going through. Sometimes kids are cheerful and calm in public but oftentimes they aren’t, and parents just have to ride it out and do the best they can. I know now that parents need encouragement, not judgment, when taking the kids outside the home.
I had an opportunity to put this new attitude into action on New Year’s Eve. Chris and I were getting ready to host a party in our home. The morning of the party, I received a text message from our friend Danielle. With disappointment — and a frowning emoji — she told me she and her husband had been unable to find a babysitter for their two toddlers. She resigned herself to staying home with them.
I didn’t want Danielle to miss out. I know what it’s like to be told I can’t go to a social gathering unless the kid stays home, and it’s frustrating. She had been looking forward to the get-together. Bradley was set to spend the night at my mother-in-law’s house, so I told Danielle she was welcome to bring the kids and use our nursery as needed. Her spirits rose, and she decided to take me up on the offer.
I’m not sure if I would have been open to it a year ago, but nobody minded the kids being there. The other guests brought some presents and goodies for the little ones so they’d have fun, too. We all pitched in when the kids got fussy later in the night.
The next day I received a wonderful compliment from my husband. “I liked how you went out of your way to make sure that everyone was having a good time,” he said. I knew my openness to Danielle’s children was a big part of that.
Children are blessings, and it’s too bad I had to wait until having my own to really grasp that fact. But I’m grateful that motherhood has taught me to open my heart to children and parents alike.
(Editor’s note: Lindsay Steele is a reporter for The Catholic Messenger. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (563) 888-4248.)