Against my better judgement, I opted to take all three girls to the grocery store this morning as opposed to going at midnight last night. It was not a decision made by a wise, seasoned Mother, but one made by a tired, confused Mommy. By the time I got the girls to bed, gathered my list and my coupons, I would have literally gotten to the store 30 minutes before they closed.
So, this morning, armed with 4 hours of sleep, coffee gone cold from neglect, and three energetic, excited daughters, I venture out. With coupons. And my list. And my thumb on speed dial for Supernanny.
We get to the store with minimal drama – thank you Dora and my car DVD player. Once in, the girls grab their little carts. I secure my youngest, Megan, in the car cart and spread my coupons out in the seat. I do a quick check to make sure I have my insurance info in case my girls take out someone’s ankles with their stellar driving skills.
One aisle in and Megan is all done. Even a banana, stolen, gnawed on and squished in the cart does not calm her. Nor does a Phineas and Ferb fruit snack. Or a 10/ $10 Hot Wheel car. So guess who I ended up carrying through the store?
With Megan on my hip, coupons still somewhat organized and ready,and a caravan of little girls and carts, I forge ahead.
I pass Moms with kids quietly sitting in their carts, Grandmothers on motorized carts with big “they are so cute” smiles on their faces – honestly, my favorite thing to see ever – and employees who have not been warned of my brood’s descent on their store.
Only two bathroom breaks and an hour and a half later, we are finished. Amazingly, with no major mishaps. My arms were the only casualty, aching and tired from hauling my one year old through the whole store.
We check out, drawing more smiles from Grandparents – so incredibly sweet – and I am pleased to see that I managed to stay right on budget. No small feat with these three, let me tell you!
Megan still on my arm, I get them and the cart to the car. I am buckle kids in and begin unloading.
I see a woman coming towards me and think – uh oh, what happened? Did my cart hit her car? Is she going to tell me I need to hire a Nanny? Did I drop something?
“Excuse me, ma’am?”
“I just wanted to tell you what an amazing job you did in there with those three girls.”
“I watched you the whole time and was just so impressed!”
What do I say? I want to cry!
“Aww- thank you so much! That means so much to me!”
We exchange a few more words and she walks back to her car. I stand for a minute just staring. WOW. Amazing. Kindness in the raw.
Feeling I need to say more, I have no words. She just made my whole year. Her words, so simple and easy to say, were better than any gift, better than a day off, better than a nanny.
They were validation, vindication, and humbling.
It was one of those random acts of WOW!
I want to run after her, flag her down, grab her and hug her tightly. Extend some sort of gesture as grand as the one she bestowed onto me. But I got back to unloading the cart, answering questions from the kids, and deciding what to do about lunch. Wishing I had some way to tell her, now that my thoughts were clear, thank you.
People have said things to me before. Even in that same store! Compliments that stay with me and pop into my head at some of my most difficult times. But for some reason, her taking the time to walk over, look me in the eyes, show her genuineness and honesty, made me feel so incredibly lucky. That she picked me to share with, me to isolate in her selflessness.
So, woman who had one child with you and one in school, whose husband travels so you understand, who took the time to walk over and make me feel so special, I cherish you. Because you did not have to do it. You did not have to approach a stranger and say anything. You did not have to do something that so many are too busy to even think about.
Thank you. I promise to pass it on.
It is how I will repay you!
Originally Published 11/5/2010