“Hey Mom, I Hear That Fat Lady Peeing”

how to handle mommy shame

That’s what my kid said in a public restroom when he heard a woman relieving herself. I not only exited the restroom at the speed of light, but I also wanted to leave the country.

Let me start at the beginning.

We stood in a public restroom when a somewhat fluffy woman bolted through the door already fumbling with her zipper. She rhythmically shifted her weight from side to side in a little hopping motion as she stumbled into an open stall.

She groped with the latch for a second, but almost instantly we heard her begin to relieve herself with the power of a racehorse.

She’d made quite a stir, and I was glad my son hadn’t noticed. Or at least it didn’t appear he did. He was 3 years old, and his filter hadn’t ripened yet.

I held my breath as I glanced sideways down at him, trying to avoid eye contact.

Then in a loud, clear voice, he announced, “Hey, Mom, I hear that fat lady peeing.”

I don’t think I’d ever moved that fast before, and I don’t think I’ve moved that fast since.

Moisture seeped out onto my forehead. My mouth got dry. I snatched my daughter from the sink where she stood on her tiptoes rinsing her little hands, hoisted that boy onto my hip, and shoved the third kid sitting in the stroller out the bathroom door.

Has your kid ever done something that made you feel as if your only recourse is to move to another country? In other words, you wanted to disappear.

You know what I mean. Your kid melts down in Walmart and screams so violently that people think you’re kidnapping him as you haul him out of the store.

Or he walks in on an intimate moment between you and your husband and asks (horrified) what you’re doing.

Or when your guests arrive, he tells them your house is really clean today, but it doesn’t usually look like that.

As awkward as these moments are, I have good news. Your kid is normal. You don’t have to leave the country. In fact, if you have no embarrassing kid stories, I’d be suspect. I’d wonder if either you never let him out of the house or if you keep him in a Dimetap-induced coma.

Red-faced mommy moments come standard on the basic motherhood package. During those moments, it’s tempting to start to doubt ourselves.

But, there’s no shame on you.

We’re imperfect people raising imperfect people. God designed our kids to inject just enough humiliation into our lives to keep us grounded. If my kids were near perfect, I might be tempted to take all the credit.

When life continues to take us to a place of humiliation, shame, or defeat, those events–which are designed to keep us focused on our need for Christ–can encourage us to focus on ourselves and our shortcomings as a person.

But, how would we ever grow the fruit of the Spirit without kids to fertilize it?

There’s no protection against embarrassing moments.

I believe God designed those special moments to humble us, but He doesn’t leave us without hope. He offered His own perfect Son so we don’t have to live with shame, doubt and fear. Christ took our shame when He died on the cross. But, if you’re anything like me you’re tempted to keep it sometimes.

What would our lives look like if we actually believed Romans 8:1? Therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

  • Would we begin living more at peace with who we are?
  • Would we begin believing we’re enough?
  • Would we stop apologizing for who we are?
  • Would we begin to experience the fullness only a life in Christ can bring?

Everyone has an “I hear that fat lady peeing ” moment. We can either allow them to defeat us and keep us in a state of humiliation, fear and doubt or we can see them as exercises in faith from God. Which will you choose?

What sort of “I hear that fat lady peeing” moment have you had?

Sheila Qualls is a former civilian journalist and editor for the U.S. Army’s award-winning newspaper, The Cannoneer. Sheila is now a stay-at-home mom, speaker and writer. Sheila writes from the experience of 30 years of marriage, five kids, homeschooling, 10 corporate moves, two dogs and a ferret. (May they rest in peace.) She inspires women by giving them a view into her world through a window of humor and transparency, one awkward moment at a time. She helps women navigate life’s emotional twists and turns so they can be the authentic women God called them to be. You can follow her on Facebook or on her blog at http://www.sheilaqualls.com.

“Hey Mom, I Hear That Fat Lady Peeing”
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