This post has been on my heart for a few weeks now. The woman ahead of us in the checkout lane at the store looked overwhelmed…and was doing her best. But I could tell she was struggling. So, here is my letter to her, and every other parent who feels the same way.
You were ahead of us in line, with a cart full of groceries. You had a little one in the seat of your cart, and another Big Kid standing near the cart as patiently as a 5-year-old can. It was supper time and I could tell your kids were at that “hungry and crabby and need to get out of public NOW!” stage. I could see that you were struggling and trying your best to keep your cool, despite the little one’s fussing and thrashing, and the growing impatience of your big kid.
I could also see the careful, analyzing eye that you kept on the food on the conveyor belt and on your rising total. You were figuring out how much the bill was going to be. You were calculating how much you had left on your EBT card and how much you were going to have to pay out-of-pocket, and what you were going to have to put back. Hoping you had enough to cover all of what you needed.
I’ve been there. I’ve stood at the checkout line keeping track of my WIC items, fumbling with the vouchers and balancing my wallet on my humongous pregnant belly. I’ve also seen the dirty looks from people behind us in line, shuffling their feet and clearing their throats in annoyance at being inconvenienced by waiting for us. I’ve felt the burning stares at the back of my head and have heard the mumbles.
I’ve also been in your shoes, with bored and tired kiddos rapidly approaching the meltdown stage. I’ve felt overwhelmed with stuff to do, places to go, kids to care for, fights to break up, and a life to live.
And I heard the ignorant young cashier say as you walked away, “Somebody needs to control their kids…” Hear me, Mama: I came to your defense. Whether you heard it or not. We mamas must support each other, not judge.
Hold your head high, Mama. You’re doing your best.
Deep breaths, Mama. Those who judge you do not know your whole story.
Live your life, Mama. Hug those kiddos tight and love them like only you can.
You’re doing okay, Mama. You got this.