I see her almost every time I go out in public. You've probably seen her, too. She looks like a mild-mannered young mother, often with her little ones and their necessary garb in tow. But suddenly, and without warning, she morphs into a short-tempered, inflexible, ugly, often insulting, beast-mom.

I can hardly go in public without another sighting. The mother in the public restroom degrading her daughter for not moving out of the way so the door can close. The mother in a restaurant completely beside herself because space at the available table won't allow her to put the high chair where she'd like. The mother creating a scene because the only racecar shopping cart is too dirty. Unfortunately, I realize, I see it in myself when the children would rather dance into their carseats than roboticly sit and fasten their seatbelts.

What has so many of us so high strung?

I have some thoughts:
1. Budget stress - For many women, economic security is a high emotional need. Many of us hear the talk in the media, but don't have the time and energy to understand it. The fear of the unknown overtakes us and we begin to worry about our own financial situation. We start scouring sale ads, collecting coupons, reading budget friendly cookbooks, all in an effort to control something that really is out of our control. This additional stress can be a real burden and certainly could shorten our overall patience.
2. High expectations - In this age of select sports and elite preschools, the competition drives many of us set unreasonably high expectations for our kids, and often for ourselves. This sprint to perfectionism will cause all of us to fail. I think sports and preschool and all the other things are beneficial to kids, but we parents have to give our children room to be kids.
3. TMI - The internet is such a useful tool. My kids can watch astronauts take space walks and research the lives of dinosaurs. But it also gives moms every product recall, every research study result, and every medical finding. What mom wouldn't be stressed out to learn that her child's favorite toy is coated in toxic paint, but taking it away could cause feelings of insecurity that could lead to bedwetting!?

So what's a mother to do?
First, learn your own triggers. What causes the beast to rise in you? Then create ways to work around it. It's OK to make lifestyle adjustments to work around your weaknesses. I know that if I don't get time to myself regularly, my patience starts to waiver. So this summer I've had a teenager come babysit one afternoon each week. This gives me time to take a deep breath, get something accomplished, and really just dash in and out of a store. It does cost us a little in cash and mommy-guilt, but it's really so worth it.

Second, count to ten. Will this situation really matter in 10 minutes, 10 weeks, 10 years? If not, calmly let it go and creatively think of a solution.

Third, remember the mom you dreamed you'd be. When we first learned we'd be parents, we all had a picture in our heads of the fun, kind, beautiful mom we'd be. Let that picture become your reality.

Goodbye, beast-mom! Hello, fun-mom!
One day a farmer asked his son to move a boulder out of the field. The son ran out and pushed the boulder, but it was too heavy and wouldn't budge. He ran back in to Dad and declared he couldn't do it. The farmer sent the son back out saying, "Try again, you can do this."

The son went back and really put his shoulder in it, pushing as hard as he could. The boulder didn't move. He laid on the ground and pushed with his legs, but nothing happened. He tried taking a running start to push the boulder, but it didn't work. Discouraged, the son came back to the farmer and said, "Dad, I tried everything, but I just can't move that boulder."

"You haven't tried everything, yet," the farmer explained. "You haven't asked me for help." Together, the farmer and his son went to the field and easily rolled the boulder away.

Our guest speaker at church this weekend shared this story and it really struck a nerve with me. Initially because so often my boys will whine and complain about a task I've asked of them. If they would calmly and politely ask for help, I'd be happy to help them accomplish it. Instead, their whining usually ends in disciplinary action and we still have to finish the task.

Then I started to think about myself. I wonder how often I do the same thing with God. He gives me a task. I try to complete it in my own strength. When I can't do it, I whine and complain instead of asking Him for help. I can think of specific things I've given up on rather than ask God for help.

When will I learn asking the Creator of the universe for help should be my first response to any task?