You are in line at the grocery store, the person in front of you is a mother with two children. In a blink of an eye one of the kids is now prostrate on the ground crying. The Mother reaches down to comfort the child and the child promptly hits Mom. We think, “I would never let my kid get away with that.” It’s pretty to think we only thought that when we were childless.The truth is we do it all the time. We think, oh that was not a battle worth fighting she should have given in. We sure are quick to judge other’s actions and compare them to ourselves. While we don’t know this particular Mother, we do it to our other Mother friends as well. She asked, she complained, she vented, we gave our two cents. When our two cents wasn’t followed we can be pretty harsh. We can get to the point where we are tired of giving advice. We become bitter and angry. I have even felt the need to vent to other Mother’s about how this one mother didn’t follow my advice. I told myself I needed to relieve the tension,it would make me feel better. I needed to relieve the frustration that she didn’t do what I said. Of course, I am right. Then the even more frustrating part when they do end up using your advice and it works. It is so easy to know what is right for someone else’s kid.We forget that we struggle with knowing what to do for our kids sometimes too. A lot of times, this venting is while the kids are playing at the playground. We can tell ourselves they are not listening, but we know they do hear some of it.There is the fifty million interruptions over “look at this!” “she pushed me” “I need to go potty”. They hear so much more than we think they do.
There is also that day that we are that Mother in the grocery store. It is us being judged. They didn’t see all the snuggling that happened that morning. They didn’t see the one on one interactions we had.They didn’t see the gummy smiles over baby food and cereal. They didn’t know we had run out of coffee that morning. They didn’t know that the line to Starbucks ran ten cars long and with two kids , not happening. When you happened to catch the look in their eye, it crushed you. Normally something you would roll your eyes at but, the combination of multiple night wakings and lack of caffeine are wreaking havoc. You find yourself re-evaluating the situation over and over. Maybe you should have given in. No, it was the right decision. Maybe I was overreacting to her requests. No she really was being ridiculous. What if instead of judging that Mother, they provided a distraction. If that was you how much relief would that give you. See that one act of compassion would make such a difference in the day;Which ever side you were on. In that moment there was no approval or disapproval, there was only compassion. All people involved,including the children, walk away better. Chances are,happier too. When we are shown compassion it is easier for us to spread it to others.
When we let compassion lead our actions, we are not approving or disapproving,we are helping, supporting, sympathizing. Compassion makes us relate to others, if we just take the time to let it lead. If our first thought is how can I help? Instead of making a snap judgement. At first, I thought but I am the one who needs healing. I am the one hurting. How is showing compassion to them going to help me.I need someone to show me compassion. That is the very subtle and tricky thing about compassion. The more we give it, the more we get it. The more I practiced compassion first, the more I realized I was healing.The more I showed compassion in my every day interactions the better I felt. There have been times that depression was beating down and it was hard to show compassion. I found myself just doing it, not really feeling it. That is how the double edge of compassion works sometimes though. While I didn’t think I was feeling it,somewhere deep down I was. The other persons smile made me feel even just a tiny bit better.
I don’t know about you but I know I have found myself reading posts like Lizzi’s about being the village and thinking YES! Then we somehow get caught up in the hum drum of the everyday. We forget that being the village is a two way thing. We have to give to receive. WE have to be someone else’s village in order to have our village. It is not a fast process. Not by far. Little by little we realize the more we help others the more we receive help. There is the other part of this that is so hard, we have to receive. We have to be open to receiving. We have to accept the help however it comes, not just the way we expected it. Accepting the help, receiving the help can be so hard. We actually have to lower our barriers to let it in. We get frustrated when that help doesn’t come exactly how we thought it would. What we have to see is, maybe the help we did get, was exactly what we needed. When we take the time to help others , we are helping ourselves as well. The more I have put myself out there to help my Mother friends with their kids, the more help I have found for my child. Yet again compassion has shown me ways to improve myself, that also improves my child as well. It really is a trickle down effect.
While it may seem like compassion is too complex of a subject to teach a child, If we practice it;we teach it. By showing compasssion to other Mother’s we are teaching our children compassion. We are showing them that no one is perfect and that is okay. No one has to be perfect when we let compassion lead. That illusion of perfection fades away into acceptance. The more we are compassionate to other Mother’s , the more we are able to be compassionate to ourselves. The more we are able to see our faults, but also to know that it’s okay.If we have let compassion lead we have the balance of the village to help even things out.
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