Anyone who shops with children has had “the conversation” with another mother. On this particular day, a grandmotherly woman in a motorized shopping cart pulled up next to me in the crowded produce department and declared, “Your girls are such angels. Doesn’t it make you want one or two more?”
Let me paint a picture. We had already been in the store for a long time. My girls, two years old and five years old, were sitting in the front of the car-shaped shopping cart, eating giant chocolate chip cookies. Their faces were covered in chocolate and their hair was not done. The cart was overflowing in groceries.
The man at the bakery gave them the cookies when I stopped to buy a large cup of soda. My day was going to be very busy and I would have no time to rest. I needed a quick energy-booster.
I needed the energy because I was six months pregnant. In a couple of hours, my seven-year-old son would be home from school and we had to finish a “momwork” project in addition to his regular homework. The house needed to be straightened and dinner needed to be cooked. In addition to our crazy day, I had been up late the night before finishing up a project for my small business.
Less than five minutes before I met the grandmotherly woman, my girls had been running circles around me in the bakery department, screeching at the top of their lungs. I was wearily trying to get their attention and rein them in before they injured themselves, someone else, or an entire rack of beautifully frosted cakes. I was exhausted. I used the cookies to bribe the girls back into the cart. I was on a deadline. I had to get out of the store before those cookies were gone.
This entire painted picture flashed through my mind when she asked, “Doesn’t it make you want one or two more?” Then, I had an epiphany. This woman saw their dirty faces and the full cart of groceries. She knew. She was a mother. So, instead of answering politely and trudging on, I stepped away from the cart, revealing my pregnant stomach and said, with a grin, “Actually, I have one or two more.”
She laughed a deep, hearty laugh. I laughed. My punch line was delivered perfectly. We discussed due dates, ages, and the challenges of motherhood right there in the produce department. The girls finished their cookies and exploded out of the cart with more energy than ever. I started disciplining again. We had a pleasant conversation, and I walked away from the whole experience less weary and more optimistic.
My grocery cart was full of food and children. My belly was full of a growing baby. My car was full of car seats and boosters. My house was full of toys, clothes, and clutter. My day was full of chores, projects, and appointments.
However, my heart was overflowing with gratitude for this time in my life. The cheerful grandmother at the grocery store knew the secret. Motherhood is a sisterhood, and for one brief moment, I felt loved and understood. It is not always easy, but it is good. It is worthwhile. And, when the busy and hard part ends, you get to be a mother forever.
The woman in the produce department reminded me that my life is full, and for that I am truly grateful.
QUESTION: Have you ever been uplifted by a fellow mother on a down day? Can you be the mother doing the uplifting?
CHALLENGE: Think about the things you are grateful for in your life right now. Regardless of which stage of life you are in, try to remember those blessings when strangers tell you to “enjoy every moment.”
Orginally published November 7, 2012