Have you ever had one of those moments where you lost it at a total stranger? You chewed out your cashier or the person on the phone or your Sonic carhop because something wasn't right and something that shouldn't have been that big of a deal, escalated quickly and some random person saw your big ugly and there was no way to take it back. And then you walk away or drive away furiously or slam something down and shortly after you are filled with regret.
Because that was not how you wanted to behave. That is not how you wanted to show up and that was not the version of yourself you wanted to be. And for one reason or another, whether it was the last straw, or something on top of an already stressful or bad day, you snap.
Oh, I hate those moments. I had one today. I was in all my glory at the school's pick-up line - a constant point of frustration anyway.
The line is longer than it was last year. It moves at a snail's pace. Several times already, Tommy doesn't hear correctly what cone he is supposed to be at, and he's at the wrong spot and no one has told him otherwise. And my favorite scenario, where someone takes five thousand years to get their kids buckled in the car and we all wait and wait and wait behind them until they are done and we can all drive away. Other cars have pulled around these kinds of people before, and today, I followed suit and decided to go around.
But I was stopped by one of the teachers - she waved me down as if I was about to run someone over, came to my car and frantically told me not to pull around a car. I explained that I was only doing what others had done before, and the lady who was holding the stop-sign wasn't holding it up anymore. I didn't understand what the big deal was. I don't even remember what all I said, but I wasn't kind. I was frustrated that the car in front of me sat there forever, that the lady wasn't holding her stop sign up if no one could still move, that I was reprimanded for something I have seen plenty of others do. After I gave her a piece of my mind, I drove quickly out of the parking lot feeling angry and embarrassed.
On the drive home, I debated trading in my car this weekend for something new so I won't be recognizable next week. Or letting Tommy take the school bus so not only do I have to deal with the pick-up line woes, but so that I can hide in my shame of my bad behavior today. Shame's faithful invitation is always to hide.
In the grand scheme of life, waiting in a school pick-up line behind someone who takes forever to buckle their children in - so not a big deal. And there will always be messed up orders at restaurants, cable bill issues that require exhausting phone calls, and children that keep leaving their Legos on the living room floor for you to step on. And like anything else, we get to choose how to respond in those moments. I'm sure today won't be the last time my ugly comes out and I lose it on an unsuspecting stranger. But, I'm taking a cue from the regret I feel after and the shame I'm invited to feel after these moments. That's not how I want to show up or treat anyone.
Yes, I'm human and I lose it and can have a bad day like anyone else. And, I want to be kind and show love and patience and humility. Even in the pick-up line after school.