To The Tired Parents Of Busy Toddlers Everywhere

I see you: you’re tired, and sweet little Sally has pulled every personal item out of your purse and now your lip balm has rolled under the Cheerios display.

Little Sally also squealed (several times, very loudly) as your buggy was parked next to the grumpy old man who also happened to be shopping in the milk aisle.

At the checkout lane, she tried to jump out of the cart and grab a handful of candy. Remember when she did that last week? You didn’t get to her in time, a bag of M&Ms ripped open, and all the lovely chocolate pieces went racing ten feet across the floor.

While you’re trying to load the bags into your car, Sally decides to have a meltdown in your arms.

You wonder why you ever tried to take her out of the house.

You feel overwhelmed. You feel like you aren’t getting anything done. You feel like your child is a distraction to everyone near you. You feel like everyone is looking at you and critiquing your parenting skills.

Keep trying.

Sally is a toddler, and she is learning how to act in public. It takes time. There will come a day when she will happily bounce along as she pushes a kiddie cart beside you.

There will come a day when you’re riding in the car, on your way home from the store, and she’ll say something like, “Mom, it was fun shopping with you today!” And then you’ll announce that an impromptu Starbucks run would be a good way to celebrate.

“You are doing important work by sowing seeds of patience and gentleness into your little one during this season.”

That day is coming.

See, not only is little Sally learning, but you are learning, too.

You are learning how to raise a child.

You are learning how to be a patient parent.

You are learning how to keep your sweet girl beside you in public places, rather than running aisles or up and down seats.

You are gleaning ideas for inspiring kindness in your child while she’s young.

You are learning how to be intentional about instilling a sense of personal responsibility into your child.

You may feel like everyone is watching you, judging you, but every parent has been there. A few of them may have forgotten, but it’s happened to us all.

Have I ever told you about the time I was at a family conference with my toddler, and his diaper overflowed? There I was, in the middle of hundreds of people, and my pretty dress was soaked all. down. the. front.

Or maybe I should pause and mention that one of my boys hated being confined to our pew at church and he constantly darted out into the aisle. If I found a way to keep him in the pew, then he would creatively find a way to crawl under the seats and into the row behind us. I’d close my eyes, raise my hand to worship, and then ― POOF! ― he’d be gone.

You’re not alone. We’ve been where you are. I’ve been there, too.

Our stories may be slightly different, but we share the same mission. Keep your chin up and don’t be discouraged. Give yourself grace.

You are doing important work by sowing seeds of patience and gentleness into your little one during this season.

One day you will reap a harvest of blessing from this season of sowing. It’s hard work, and you must be intentional, but one day you will take joy in the young adults they’ve grown to become. The seeds you plant in their heart today will transform into firmly rooted trees that will help them weather the storms of life.

Embrace this season and the work you get to do today. You are raising a child who will have a solid foundation!


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