I was standing in the checkout line at Target today, ponytail askew from little fingers tugging at it, my complexion, a broken out mess from I don’t know what, Isabelle whimpering, and Zachary screeching in a blood curdling manner, annoyed by the constraints of the stroller. I normally would have put more effort into keeping him entertained as to not pierce the ear drums of fellow shoppers, but it’s been a long week (yes, I know it’s Tuesday) and instead, I looked into the eyes of the woman in front of me and pathetically said “I give up today. Sorry.”
I was blessed with just the right audience, as she looked back, and said “Oh. I remember when…my kids are 6 and 8. It gets so much easier!” “Really?” I said. “Cause it’s 11 am on a Tuesday, and I’m putting in my notice.” “Yep. I remember those days. You wake up and think, ‘they are in control, not me.’ And, that’s what wine is for!” “Exactly!” She hit the nail on the head and walked off with an encouraging smile. I paid for our bubble juice (did I mention, the whole trip was for Zachary?) and left with a jolt of courage to face the remainder of the day. A beautiful gift from a stranger at Target, reaching through the bars of my playpen of insanity to assure me that there is life on the other side.
On the drive home, I was thinking of how I couldn’t wait to join the ranks of the helpful, and offer such a flashlight to those in the thick of it. She, after all, shifted the course of my day for the better and I’m certain is completely unaware. It’s tiresome being the one who’s always reaching out, always needing, always frustrated and struggling. But, an hour later, as I was calmly nursing a sleepy Isabelle, a recollection of the very same Target trip popped into my head, only this was upon entering the store. A woman waddled toward us, her belly swelled with her second baby, as her toddling 18 month old sweetly smiled and waved at my son. I could feel her desire to connect with me concerning my obvious familiarity of the “2 under 2” scenario. It took me a bit to pick up on her anxious cues however, due to my embarrassment over Zachary spouting “No! I don’t want to say Hi! I don’t want to wave!” He’s not in the most adorable phase at the moment. But, Isabelle was cooing and grinning, and thankfully saved us from seeming like an off-putting bunch.
We chatted for a minute, and after she asked me how I was handling my two, I honestly told her that it is a lot of work, but all worth it, and that she would be amazed at how much of which she is capable. I added, that although I have yet to hit a consistent stride, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Their age difference, as insane as it is for me currently, is a gift to them, and in time, I believe will show itself to be more of a gift to me as well. I ended with a “Good luck!” and said goodbye. But, I quickly yelled after her and said “And Congratulations! It’s gonna be wonderful!”
I don’t know what effect I actually had on her this morning. I don’t know what kind of path her day was taking before it met with me and my double stroller. But, perhaps she’ll remember my words in a few months, during an overwhelming moment, as I will remember the words of the woman who would cross my path not 20 minutes later. In this case, I guess it was paid “backwards”, but you get the gist. Pay it forward, backward, rightward and leftward. Just spread the love…the honest, and encouraging love! It really does make a difference.