Lessons from a Creepy Bagel Gawker (On Encouraging Moms)

A few weeks back Caedmon and I were out for Bagels as a break in the middle of errands.

I let him pick out his bagel and his cream cheese flavors from the case we affectionately refer to as cream cheese heaven. (Think a glass case full of huge bowls of every flavor cream cheese and you’ll see why.)

We waited at our table for our toasted and schmeared carbs to be delivered and as we did he started to whine for juice. This happens a lot, but I generally hold my ground because I want my kids to drink water. Also I hate shelling out $2.50 for a bottle of juice.

Yet, he wouldn’t drop it, he’s three, there are very few hills he won’t die on when it comes to getting his way: Underwear, hand washing, juice, who turns off the TV… these are all battle-worthy topics to him.

It went something like this:

“I want juice!”
“I’m sorry buddy, we are having water today. But I think your bagel will be here soon.”
“I don’t want it, I want a donut from Tim Hort’s… and juice!”
“Those aren’t choices right now, but a blueberry strawberry bagel is. Here it comes!”
“No, I hate bagels!” (goes to smack bagel basket…I block his shot because I know his game)

All the while I notice a middle age man across the aisle staring at us, obsessively and without apology. I try not to catch his eye after the first round because he is really making me uncomfortable with his constant gaze.

Eventually, somehow Caedmon calms down and digs into his bagel, even sipping and backwashing into his water after a few minutes.

All the while our friend across the aisle stares us down like my son stares at a Tim Horton’s donut case.


From this past Sunday when we accidentally missed church and ended up giving our kids donuts instead of Jesus. #wetried

My creeped out levels were high when he got up to clear his table to leave (Phew!)

As he did he walked crossed the aisle to our table: “Hey. I just wanted to let you know that you’re doing a great job with him. You’re a good mom.”

My jaw dropped open. (don’t worry there was no bagel in it, I devoured that in 1:17 flat)

The whole creepy staring was an appreciation of my parenting skills? Who Knew? And what a weird way to go about it!

I thanked him profusely, felt immensely flattered and proceeded with the rest of my errands like the all star mom that I apparently am. With an extra dose of patience and understanding because of the compliment I’d been paid.

What’s up with the power of these words: “You’re a good mom.”

I hate that it takes a compliment from a real live person to make me feel more secure in my parenting, certainly I would like to be in a place where my call and my identity in God speak to that the most.

Yet, I cannot deny that every time someone has made a point to lift me up as a mom, it stands out.

I remember it, I feel it for the rest of the day and even longer.

Then last night, I saw Facebook post that brought all these compliments back to the forefront of my mind.

A friend from Oklahoma, who parents six beautiful children like a rock star, received a note on her windshield from a stranger at Target.


Someone took the time out of their daily jam to notice her with her children, find a paper and pen, write a note and stick it under her windshield!

Whoever you are Target stranger, you are an answer to prayer.

Because how many days do we pray for strength, and how many times could we be the answers to each other’s prayers by taking the time to say: “Well done good and faithful (and obviously exhausted) mama?”

Not enough.

So yesterday I posted a Facebook challenge:

“Mom challenge: Let’s all tell three mothers that they are doing a great job this week. Bonus if it’s a stranger, double bonus if they’re having a hard day.”

What if we all complimented three mamas this week? Went our of our way to tell them that they’re great mothers?

What if we took the time to say “Hey, well done mom. It’s hard, but you are loving those little ones into beautiful people.”

What if we left notes on the windshields of dirty mini vans and cars?

What if we bought their much needed coffee at whatever drive thru is on their way to the grocery store or soccer field?

What if, when we saw a Mom struggling we intervened by holding doors and sharing looks of “I’ve been there?”

I know my world would be a more beautiful place if I answered a few more prayers with my actions.

So, are you in? If you are please let me know in the comments, or leave a comment about your encouragement in action. 

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  • Joely

    Love this and you are a great mama my sweet friend! I am with you on how powerful those words are too. I have a doctorate and practice a full time job with that degree and someone can tell me how good I am and it makes me smile but it’s gone then someone can tell me what a good mom I am or how lucky my kids are to have me and how I may inspire another mom and it rocks my world! It also, like you, makes me feel more pateint, loving and caring to my kids…how is this? Maybe it makes me realize people are noticing which means my kids are noticing which means I need to keep up the “good mom” thing to make my kids and myself all feel better about our world. I think also I feel so amazed at the mom compliments because when you think about it, you’re being compared to every other mom that person knows and for them to take notice at how well you are doing at the job, that is a big deal, versus me being compared to the handful of other physicial therapitss they may know. Love you!!!

    • http://www.leannepenny.com Leanne Penny

      Wow great point, it’s true we all do see our fair share of mothering each day. This is likely why it makes such an impact when someone notices ours. Plus it’s such an important thing to our hearts! If someone sees our diligent and sometimes frustrating work in a positive light it can really help us weather the hard stuff and press on in the midst of the rough patches.

      I love you too friend.

  • http://simply-rea.blogspot.com Rea

    Love it. I have occasionally been on the receiving end of those comments and they are a balm to the soul. I need to challenge myself to do this always. (We did have lunch with our children’s ministry leaders this Sunday and I tried really hard to reassure her that NO, fussy littles are all part of the game and it truly didn’t bother us at all (because hey, at least they weren’t making fart jokes and using atrocious table manners like ours were), but maybe what I actually should have just said was ‘You are doing great.”
    Also, for moms of older kids, just noticing when our children do something that shows good character and telling us about it is HUGE, because sometimes we worry about how they are turning out and hearing “I saw so-and-so being really kind to one of the little kids at church today” is reassuring. (This is something I’ve tried to be really conscious about doing in the past year. It’s always well received.)

  • Michelle

    I am sooooo in! I can’t wait.

  • Mark Allman


    I’m no mom but I’m in because I believe so strongly in this. I want to be one who steps in a gap and encourages. I like writing people notes and I like doing some anonymously for someone if I can to encourage them. I don’t do it enough. I think this should be a goal of mine to make sure I do it each week.

    I know you are a great mom and wife. I admire how vulnerable you let yourself be so you can encourage others. I think it is great what you do here.

    I think it is important to encourage others but also those we love. We sometimes forget to do that. To be complimented by one I love washes over me and renews.

    Last year my kids and I took my wife out to celebrate. We celebrated her doing 50000 loads of laundry since we had married. I calculated it all out and wrote it all out and it just so happened that the 50000 load was a couple days before our celebration. I tell this because I think we need to compliment on the mundane that people do that’s really not mundane. There is nothing mundane about the faithfulness that went into those 50000 loads.

    Our words are so so powerful……

  • Jen

    I love this! What is so sad is that the moments of encouragement are few and far between and the moments of disapproving stares and nasty comments are so frequent. Even though I still have littles (6, 5, 3, and 1.5), I always keep a lookout for a fellow mom who needs help and I always feel bad when I don’t have the courage to step up and offer help or encouragement. Last month I was at a local event at the ballpark, and noticed a mom with a new baby strapped to her cheesy. She was trying to get shoes back on her two year old boy but he was fighting back hard, going so far as to try to hit his baby brother. Having been there many a time myself with my oldest (who is now 6), I offered to take her baby so she could diffuse her older child. She was hesitant at first but then accepted. I only did what I had wished someone had been willing to do for me when I was struggling. I could tell it helped her relax and feel better. It made me feel good to know that I helped even if it was small.

  • Jen

    I love this. My friend is an amazing mom, and she is doing a fantastic job. Her girls are polite and generous, patient and sweet with my boy. I told her yesterday how great I think they are and what a great job she’s doing, and she burst into tears. We all don’t hear it enough. And it’s hard to see how awesome your own kids are, sometimes, down in the trenches.