Nine days ago I received a mass email from the program director of my daughter’s Mother’s Day Out program. The general purpose of the email was about the upcoming book fair the program was having. However, at the end of the email, the director stated that a few moms had brought something to her attention out of concern. At the end of the letter, the director said, “I trust you hear the “heart” through which this request is made.”
Let me begin by saying that the director of the Mother’s Day Out program is beyond fantastic. It was her duty to do address the concern brought by those mothers with other parents. But still, something bothered me about the email, it wasn’t the director, she was doing her job, but rather it was the moms who reported their sightings to her. While I heard the “heart” at which the director was making the request, it made me wonder about the heart of the fellow moms who went to her.
You see, around the time I received the email, the pastor of my church introduced a new message series called “10,000 Steps”. The inspiration behind the series is the FitBit and the daily goal of reaching 10, 000 steps. The question posed during my pastor’s message is how are you spending those steps? Are you spending those steps reaching out to others? Are you spending those steps judging others? What are you doing? The message isn’t saying that you should go up to everyone you encounter and say, “Hi, my name is Erika and I would like to know if you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior”. No, that’s not the purpose. But what the message is saying is that God can use you in your everyday life to be a light towards someone else.
Now going back to my daughter’s MDO program, I have thought about the moms who spoke to the director. You are probably asking yourself what was the complaint. Well, I’ll warn you this can be a touchy subject but here goes…a couple of moms were either running their children inside or picking their children up but leaving a baby in the car while doing so. The three main reasons the email bothered me are 1. There was so much ambiguity as to which mom or moms were doing this since it was a mass email. 2. I could possibly be one of the moms the email was addressing because I have left my youngest child sleeping in the car. 3. If I was the mom they were referring to, if they would’ve approached me, they would’ve been informed that next to my car was a van that contained a pretty and petite friend of mine named Wendie, who was watching my little girl for me. I would’ve been able to share with them how for a while, Wendie and I would just sit next to each other in our cars and talk about everything from the life of being a mom, bible study, the advantages of driving a mini-van and just life in general. I would also have been able to share with them how Wendie watched me carrying one year-old, while holding the hand of my energetic three year-old with my pregnant belly poking out and how one day she just said, “If I’m here, don’t worry about carrying her inside with you anymore. I’ll watch her for you until you come back. We’re both moms and I’ve been there.” But that’s just my story of being blessed by a fellow mom.
I can’t help but to wonder about the other moms the email could’ve been referencing. I also can’t help but to wonder about how those moms who expressed their concerns to the director could have spent their steps differently. Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying that it’s wrong to express concern over the well-being of a child, that’s not what I’m saying at all.
One mom had four kids with her and one of the kids notified her that she had left her lunchbox in the classroom AFTER all four kids were seated and buckled in the car. She ran inside with her daughter to grab the lunchbox but was literally afraid she would be reported by another mom for leaving her kids in the car. Am I the only one who thinks there’s something wrong with that picture?
To express how I feel, I have to directly quote my pastor because he put my feelings into words. He stated, “Society now wants justice over mercy. We believe in judgement over forgiveness. We extend criticism over benefit of the doubt. And we believe in works and merit over grace.”
Instead of spending their 50-150 steps looking for the director to “report” other moms what if the following happened…
What if they used that thing called empathy and weren’t so quick to jump to conclusions?
What if they looked at things in context and said to themselves, “Hmm, it’s raining and cold out here today, I’m sure she probably didn’t want the baby out in this type of weather, she normally takes the baby in with her”?
What if they went to the director and said, “Hey, I noticed this mom left her baby in the car today, would you mind giving her my name and telling her I don’t mind watching the baby for a couple of minutes while she runs in”?
What if the baby was sick and finally fell asleep after being up for hours and the mom just wanted her baby to finally rest and literally ran in to pick-up/drop-off her other child?
This is about taking the time to notice people, not just in school parking lots, but everywhere. Although the MDO program is at a Christian church, it would be silly to think all parents share the same faith. I wonder if one of those moms who received the email, just marked it as another reason why she thinks Christians are judgmental or some other notion.
Listen, I pray that you can see the gray area here that I’m talking about. I’m not encouraging moms to leave their kids in the car and go on shopping sprees. But what I am saying is that opportunities are being missed in our everyday steps to be the light and the salt of the earth.
13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that[a] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
How will you spend your 10,000 steps today?