To the Woman Who Saw My Daughter Dump Groceries on the Floor
Dear woman in the grocery store,
Hello, new friend. You don’t know me, and we’re not buddies. I won’t pretend we will be or that our paths will ever cross again, but there’s something I need to say to you. I’m the slightly frazzled woman who stood behind you in the grocery line. The woman whose 3-year-old dumped half the groceries on the floor beside the conveyor belt, right next to your perfectly behaved children. The woman who snapped at said 3-year-old as she continued throwing items at the conveyor belt.
You didn’t snicker in disgust like the elderly woman behind me or shake your head in disbelief like her male counterpart. You didn’t offer parenting advice or give me dirty looks like many have before you. You didn’t look at me with pity or judgment.
Instead, you picked up the groceries that had fallen, placing them gently on the belt behind the plastic divider. You could have ignored me and my cranky children, but you didn’t. Instead, you complimented my daughter. “Wow. You’re Mommy’s big helper, aren’t you, sweetheart.” Instead, you made small talk with me as you placed my now-squished bread back on the belt. “How old is she? Mine are 5 and almost 2. I remember those ‘threenager’ days, they suck.” Yes, you said “suck,” a word most would dare not utter to a stranger. I smiled, holding back my tears because today really sucked.
Suddenly, the perfectly behaved 5-year-old calling you Mom decided it was his turn to help. “See, it happens to all of us.” Turning your attention to your own children, you finished loading your cart and left, throwing a “Hope you have a good rest of the day” over your shoulder before I could mutter a response.
You don’t realize this, but you made today — an unbearable, spirit-breaking day — bearable. After spending an entire afternoon sitting in a neurology appointment, we’re exhausted. She missed her nap, and I left with little more information about her developing neurological and cognitive delays than I had before I went it. The last thing I wanted to do was pick up a new prescription at the grocery store before heading home to take care of the “threenager” and her vomiting 2-year-old brother who wasn’t patiently waiting with the sitter.
The last thing I wanted to do was interact with people, especially grocery store people, after the afternoon I had. As it turns out, the last thing I wanted was exactly what I needed. I needed kindness, understanding and small talk from a judgment-free mom.
You don’t realize this, but you were the brightest part of my day today. And for that, I’m thankful.
The slightly frazzled mom whose day you just made with your kindness.
P.S. I hope you had a great rest of your day.
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