After the Herculean effort it took to prepare for our family vacation, we were now standing at the airport check-in with plenty of time to pass through security and find our gate.
We’re home free! What could possibly go wrong now? I thought.
I had to ask.
Check-in Clerk: Sir, two of your bags are overweight. That will be $50 for each bag.
Husband: In addition to the $35 I already paid online?!
Clerk (with no expression): Yes.
Husband: Each way?!
Clerk: Yes. Each way.
She said it matter-of-factly, as if it were perfectly reasonable to fork over THREE HUNDRED AND FORTY DOLLARS for the simple privilege of not going naked on your vacation. This from a “budget” airline. Whose budget? Bill Gates?!
Me: That’s ridiculous!
Clerk: Well, you could try to redistribute the weight to your other bag. It’s lighter.
Husband (visibly irritated): Start unzipping!
So, right there, at the side of the check-in counter, with a line of impatient, gawking onlookers taking in the scene, we all unzipped our neatly packed suitcases and began frantically moving undies, razors and shampoo from one bag to another.
Other travelers stepped over and around us. I swear I heard snickering.
It isn’t enough that we nearly have to disrobe to go through security. That they once confiscated my then-infant son’s Teletubbies fork for being a “potential weapon.” That a few years ago I acquired a file with the FBI for accidentally leaving a paring knife in an overnight bag.
The airline industry apparently did not feel I had yet been sufficiently humiliated. Nope, now I had to expose my baggage.
Have you ever felt that way as a mother? I know I have.
You try to do the right things. Keep the kids in line. Keep family life neat and tidy.
And then, in the most public of venues, your family “baggage” is laid bare.
Kids tend to exhibit their unique — and sometimes forceful — personalities without much regard to how it looks or who’s listening.
My own weaknesses — impatience, sarcasm, anger, pride — have also been on display in the process.
During my 16 years of motherhood, I’ve weathered some complicated parenting challenges — as we all do at some point. I’ve sometimes felt (and heard) the disapproval of gawking onlookers. Strangers — and friends — who only saw a snapshot of the our family’s relationships, personalities and dynamics sometimes offered simplistic remedies and judgments.
It used to bother me. A lot.
It doesn’t anymore. It’s not that I refuse all advice. During those times, I’ve gravitated toward a trusted few who listen, offer encouragement, wisdom and suggestions (and know when not to!) and refrain from uninformed judgments. If you don’t have those kind of people in your life, ask God for them. I did. And He answered.
Jesus’ family life was messy. He was conceived by an unwed mother. Born in a stable. His parents didn’t fully understand His earthly mission. And His own brothers didn’t believe He was who He claimed to be. Talk about some complicated family dynamics.
Why should we expect any different?
No matter what is going on in your family, trust that God is working. Don’t get brought down by the messiness of the process. Don’t allow the airing of your family “baggage” to leave you feeling condemned and embarrassed.
Ask for God’s guidance. Try to follow His leading. Accept His grace when you inevitably make mistakes. When you do that, you have nothing to be ashamed of — no matter how messy the scene may look to outsiders.