Today I visited a different ward. I know a couple of people that go there, but I didn't see them and they didn't know I was there. I followed a mother and her several young children through the parking lot and to the door. I figured they would know where to go, right? She let her children run ahead of her in the parking lot, which was busy with cars pulling in and pulling out. This is, and always has been, a sore spot with me. When all of my kids were little, everyone had a hand on them. No one was NOT connected to another-especially my crew. The boys were a little tangential (to be polite), so I had to always make sure we were touching one another so no one would dart out and get hurt. This mother's voice was so loud as she screamed to her kids, "CARS. WATCH OUT. LOOK WHERE YOU'RE RUNNING!" I had to keep my head down to keep from losing it because I couldn't watch.
As I entered the lobby, a small boy (one of HERS, it turns out) held the door for me and several other people. I was the last person into the lobby so I thanked him quietly and patted his shoulder. Apparently his mother (the really really loud mother) didn't see me thank him so from way across the lobby (remember, she doesn't travel with the rest of her clan, she mothers from a distance) she says very loudly (because she's quite practiced at it), "THANK YOU ETHAN!"
I was mortified. It implied that I didn't thank him. There were about 4 adults in the lobby at that moment and every one of them turned to look at her, then Ethan, then me. I saw it all. There was one particular man, about 6'4", older, who looked at me, but without judgment. He just witnessed everything. He may have known the woman and was aware of it, and if he attended that church regularly, he would have known that I was a stranger to everyone. But, I was still simply mortified. I couldn't go into that sacrament meeting like that. So I took off down the hallway looking for Ethan's mom.
The church is laid out in a circle type of configuration. I went most of the way around the circle before giving up. I even checked a restroom. Nothing. I finally went into the back of the chapel to get ready for taking the Sacrament and I heard her voice. I turned around and there was Ethan's mom. I left my purse and walked back to where she was sitting. I noticed she was alone, except for her kids. I sat down and said, "I heard you thank Ethan for holding the door for several of us in the lobby. It's important to me for you to know that I also thanked him and patted his shoulder when he held the door for me." Her countenance never changed. She said, "Yes, I'm teaching him the importance of doing that."
I realized then that she is just simply focused on surviving and maintaining whatever parenting skills she possesses, and that's fine. That's exactly what she's supposed to do. This isn't about my ego or feelings. She's dragging her kids to church, alone, (this week anyway, I don't know her circumstances). I've sat in the back of the chapel, alone, with four little kids, probably not dressed as nice as their peers, probably with an attitude a time or two. I was just doing the best I could and I'm certain I didn't do things like the other mothers. I didn't know the hymns. I didn't know how to do FHE's-I had to make them up. I didn't feel like I fit in anywhere, because I probably didn't. But I had my kids in sacrament. And they grew into nice adults who love their children. Five of my grndchildren are born in the covenant. Two of my children served missions. Not because of anything I did, but because they were in church, surrounded by good people who were good models for them.
So...I love you Ethan's mom. All is well. You rock. Just hold on to your kids in the parking lot.