I noticed this older lady as we crossed paths throughout the grocery store. The boys were behaving…well, not great, but better than they have on previous grocery store trips.

After we checked out, I saw her making a purchase at the floral counter. She opened her mouth to say something to me, and I automatically thought she would say:

“You have your hands full there!” or “I bet they keep you on your toes!”

Or something along those lines. Being the mom of three boys, I hear this a lot. I really don’t think a mom of three girls or two girls and one boy or two boys and one girl has their hands any less full than mine, but that’s just what I get from bystanders.

But she didn’t say that. What she said left me surprised, and also a little confused.

“You are a very patient mama. There aren’t too many of you around.”

Believe me, that is the LAST observation I expected, probably because I often feel like the farthest thing from a very patient mama, especially when I have all three children at the grocery store. I know you’re with me on this one, mamas of littles.

The first part was a compliment, but it totally made my head spin. I mean, within a half hour of her saying those words, I was at home, completely losing my patience when a child wouldn’t put away his Legos after two or five or ten reminders. My patience slips away more days than it doesn’t, but apparently she caught me in a few moments when I actually held on to it.

The second part of her comment made me pause and think.

“There aren’t too many of you around.”

Patient Mom

And I’m still thinking about it. What would cause her to say this? Her observations of other mothers at the grocery store? Her interactions with mothers in her family, church, neighborhood? What is it that makes her feel like patient mamas are few and far between? And what exactly does a very patient mom look like?

I don’t have a profound conclusion to share with you today. Just some questions. Some ponderings for my own heart on what patience looks like and how it points back to Jesus. Some prayers for the mamas who are worn paper-thin in the patience department, including me more than one day a week.

I can tell you this. Nothing in the world will try a person’s patience as much as parenthood. And nothing in the world will grow our patience as much as parenthood. As Kelly Minter says in her book The Fitting Room {affiliate link}:

The very essence of biblical virtues is that they’re only virtues when they’re being tested.

My patience may be tested daily, but it also grows daily, only when I turn to the One who provides me the strength and Holy Spirit power to produce any good fruit. None of that patience or kindness or goodness comes from me.

And one last thing. To that woman who took the time to encourage me by complimenting my patience, you and you kind words were just what I needed that day. And there aren’t many strangers around anymore who would say something nice and encouraging to a young mom in the grocery store. Thank you.