This memory pops up from time to time. My worst grocery trip with the boys. There is no quicker way to feel like a failure than being a mom in a store with 2 kids melting down and a dozen people looking on. Oh the humiliation and defeat. Then four words from a stranger and a sympathetic look and smile came just at the right time. She didn’t stop and try to get involved. She didn’t look at me with that disapproving “get your children under control look” or the even worse “look at the mom failing at being a mom” look. You know the looks I am talking about and admittedly before I became a mom I looked on situations with that same “this is what I would do because she is doing it all wrong” attitude. So let me tell you about the time I was humbled to the point of tears….on my knees….with 2 boys crying, 5 aisles in and a full cart.
I had my list and I was focused. “Forty-five minutes tops,” I thought as I put Caleb (about a year old) in the front seat of the cart and had Noah (4 years old walking beside me). I was in a rush. No reason why I am just always in a rush when it comes to the grocery store. I want to get it done and not have to think about it until next week. It was busy. Of course it was. I was already getting frustrated because Noah wouldn’t stay by the side of me so I could maneuver him over and out of the way when people were coming up the opposite end of the aisle. Then Caleb started in. He wanted out! He wanted out now!! What felt like fifteen minutes later we were still in the middle of the cereal aisle, the most popular aisle in the store at this moment in time. Caleb is screaming and I told Noah to start walking so we could just go check out. Rounding the corner Noah stops right in front of the cart (where he isn’t supposed to be) and consequently the cart runs into the back of his heel. Now Noah is crying and yelling, “oh it hurts, it hurts so bad!” Caleb is still crying. I manage to get us in the next aisle and parked to the side. I get down on my knees and am trying to console Noah. Caleb is reaching over the cart still protesting his captivity. Now I am the mom who attempted murder on her child with the cart. My blood is boiling and tears are stinging my eyes. I am telling Noah to breathe and I am sorry and I didn’t mean to hit his heel but why can’t he stay beside me and we just need to get out of here. The sample lady who witnessed the whole thing keeps turning around to shoot me more looks. Her face said I was failing at this mom thing. I am back up trying to keep Caleb from flipping the cart over and then I crouch back down and hug Noah. Caleb is still crying. Having been a retail worker there was no way I was abandoning this cart full of groceries. Unless you have worked retail you have no idea just how rude this is. I look up and this lady is walking past us slowly. She was observing. I met her eyes and she smiled a sympathetic smile and said “Hang in there momma.” I smiled back through tears and whispered, “thank you.” In four little words that lady picked me up off my knees and got me moving. I took Noah by the hand and although he was still sobbing and Caleb was still squirming and fussing we made our way to the check out. When we got home I told my husband I was NEVER taking both of them to the store again! yeah right. Moral of this story and what it changed about the way I view other moms in public……you can be the one who casts a judging look at the mom who’s kids are melting down or even the mom who is melting down OR you can be like the lady who boosted my mommy confidence with just four little words. I want to be the person who encourages with a look of kindness and a soft word. To all you mommas out there…”Hang in there!”
Now Noah and Caleb are almost 8 and 4 and I have taken them to the grocery store together. I am still always in a hurry (it’s just me) but to this date there has never been a meltdown of that caliber. In the moment I was mortified but when I look back I smile. These are the things that build our mommy character, build our patience, and make us better parents and people.
Being a mom is the greatest blessing God has given me.