*I remember this so vividly… I ran to the store for a quick pick up and discovered so much more. I wanted to share this story once again to remind us all to keep our eyes and hearts open to those in need of a hand. It’s so easy to keep focused on our own busyness and checklists. Who has time for anything else? I didn’t that day. But I am forever grateful I made the right choice to let go of my own agenda and worries and reach out to a mom in need. Keep your eyes open. Keep your hearts open too.*
And moms- we need each other. Lets all dive in and help a mom out when we can, okay?
It had been a very long week. After struggling through a family crisis, dealing with the holiday shenanigans and ultimately caring for my sick daughter who contracted a virus that launched her asthma to dangerous heights, I was depleted and done. We had been trapped in this sickness for days, and I hadn’t been able to get out to the grocery to pick up some medicine that I foolishly believed could help quiet her flare.
I needed to go. My daughter begged me not to leave her alone, but I convinced her it would be a quick trip and that she would be okay for the few minutes I ran to the store.
I worried. I questioned if I should even go. But honestly? I needed to get out, if only for a short while. I wanted to have fresh produce in the house and have this medicine on standby for the sake of comfort if not anything else. Perhaps I was being selfish, but I really, really wanted to go. I swear I almost felt this elusive pressure to move, to risk this moment to do a ridiculous errand at a foolish time.
My anxiety hurled itself onto my pounding heart as I drove away from the house, leaving my baby in God’s hands. I said a quiet nervous prayer for protection while I was gone on this mundane and trivial excursion.
What on earth was I doing?
I simply had to go.
As I quickly pushed my cart through the store in rapid speed, picking up the items I needed for one reason or another, I rounded the corner of aisle 8 and I heard it on aisle 9. My ears perked up and my heart had this sudden twinge, as I listened to what probably was a three year old beginning the workings of a tantrum. My mom radar was buzzing loudly, as I immediately felt this surge of compassion for my fellow mom just one aisle over. I paused, with contemplation to head that way and do something, anything to let this mom know I’m here and I get it. I have had many of those moments with my own kids, and I always have this incessant need to reach out a hand, share that knowing smile, or even say something to show the true camaraderie we all have in this gig we call motherhood, to any mom who struggles.
I’ve been there. We’ve ALL been there.
I dismissed that nudge soon after, as anxiety took over, knowing full well I had a sick daughter at home counting the minutes until I returned.
I raced hurriedly to the check out and groaned at the long line I now had to stand in. My stress level increased tenfold. As I waited in angst, I heard the sound again… only the fierceness had climaxed to a thunderstorm of screams. This little girl had spiraled out to that place of no return. I peered over the crowded lines of people to find where this mom was managing the battle. I couldn’t see her, but I knew the direction the howls were coming from, and my heart sunk with sadness for my Conrad. I could tell from the cluster of dialogue that she was trying to get checked out fast as her girl had reached epic proportions of this meltdown. The entire store could hear her, and my heart couldn’t take it anymore.
I left my cart right there in the line, and walked down the check out hub toward the screeching and rumbling of the battle. I found the mom, attempting to control her daughter with one arm and pay the cashier with another… while her baby boy sat in the cart smiling. The girl had now gotten physically out of control and was hitting and kicking with all her might, as this precious mom looked desperate to get the hell out of this mess- but couldn’t because all of her attention was now in trying to control her daughter. The cashier and countless onlookers just stared in silence.
I ran up to this mom and asked if I could help. I told her in the throes of this massive storm, that we have ALL been there! As her eyes met mine, she began to let out that familiar breath of defeat, causing me to nod with absolute sympathy and reach for her with my experienced hand. She thanked me and poured out those frantic explanations- that her girl wanted a treat and she said no and she just didn’t know why she was doing this and she never has been this out of control and and and and….
I nodded and smiled and told her I get it. “Let me help?” I begged.
The girl broke free. Running at top speed toward the other end of the store, leaving this mom with the baby in the cart and the silent onlookers and cashier just waiting, waiting, waiting to check her out.
“I’ll go get her- you just check out! We got this!”
I ran as fast as I could toward the corner of the cosmetics department, as I spotted this little tiger’s beautiful hair flying in the air. She was fast, and scared, and in that crazed state of savagery. I dodged the lipstick display and rounded the corner of the lotions, as she darted through the shampoos and crawled behind the hair supplies to hide. I finally found her, as she glared at me with the look only a little innocent confused raging child can. I tried to sweet talk her into coming out, but she would have nothing to do with me. I then crawled my way under to grab her as she hit and kicked and tried to squirm away…
I kept sweetly singing in her little ear, “It’s gonna be okay. It’s gonna be okay. You’re okay, sweetie. Let’s go back to mommy…”
She kicked and hit and pulled my hair and screamed, as I fought with all my might to hold on to her.
I headed back toward the mom, carrying a fighting strong willed adorable tyrant that almost managed to escape my grasp multiple times. I kept telling this beautiful little girl that she was okay. I knew that she was beyond anything we could salvage, but I wanted her to know that although she was out of control, I was not. I stayed calm, as my voice continued to be soft and tender. She needed no added stress from me, and I simply wanted to take her back to the safety of her mother’s arms.
When I finally made it back to her mom, this poor woman looked at me so deflated, exhausted and terrified to see her daughter so violently out of control.
I told her I would help her outside to the parking lot to get the kids in the car with the groceries. Her little girl got a good grab of my hair and the mom kept apologizing and thanking me, with that horrifying gasp of humility. I kept telling her over and over that ALL kids do this, and she is a good mom and I am here to help…
I handed the little warrior over to mom’s arms to continue the battle, knowing full well this wasn’t mine to combat, but hers. I was just her aid, so I pushed the cart with the adorable baby boy smiling and babbling with me, as I tried to keep his normal world at bay. We reached the parking lot and worked tirelessly to get her daughter into the car as this little girl had more power than the two of us together.
It took us nerves of steel and the strength of an almighty victor to get this girl buckled into her car seat as she continued to kick and scream and pull our hair as we got close to her.
Oh this poor mom. She kept apologizing and I felt the immensity of her momma heart so sunken and soaked in utter embarrassment and overwhelming angst. We were a good team, taking turns with the baby boy and the cart and managing the little fireball who wouldn’t quit.
After a good 30 minutes, the kids and groceries were in the car and we fell into each other’s arms and cried.
She thanked me over and over again. And I told her over and over again, that this is what mothers do- they help each other out. They dive into the trenches because we are ALL there at some point. I told her she is not a bad mother, she is an amazing mom and all kids -ALL kids have meltdowns. I told her that I was there for a reason, and I went against my natural instinct to stay home- for THIS. God had sent me to this place at this time for her. It was so clear to me. So very clear. I had a Divine appointment waiting for me at this grocery store that day.
This beautiful mom cried more. I cried more. She kept thanking me and sharing how she feels like such a failure and how this has never happened and how she would have never been able to manage this scene without me. She told me I was her angel.
It was so raw, and real, and beautiful. Two moms crying and hugging in the parking lot… bearing our souls while the screaming continued in the car. What a scene. What a glorious guttural moment-
We stood in that deep beautiful connection of pain, of strength, of utter defeat and complete victory. We laughed at the unbelievable fight her girl had. We talked about the looks and the stares and the awful judgment had by everyone else around us. I continued to convince her that this is totally and completely normal- ALL of it.
We exchanged numbers. I told her to drive and cry and let it all out and don’t stop until both kids fell asleep.
I waved goodbye with tears still in my eyes and my heart ablaze with love for this new friend and precious mom. This matters. THIS.
I ran back into the store to see if my cart was even there, and once again had this surge of panic that I had pushed down over and over again, while helping this new mom friend. I kept secretly praying that God would care for my daughter while I was carrying out His mission. I forced the peace of His Protection into my heart, with the confidence that He would indeed hold my baby with His Hands, while I did His work with mine.
I found my cart, placed out of the line and off by the service desk. I grabbed it to once again, get back in the line to check out and race home.
Once in the car, I began to sob. I cried all the way home, not tears of pain but joy. I rejoiced in the most amazing passionate praise that simply illuminated my heart as I thanked God for his call. I thanked Him for picking me that day, to carry out His work.
I came to this store defeated and depleted. Little did I know, God can still use me in my weakest state. Little did I know that I would be infused with great strength and stamina and be presented with such a merciful gift.
Oh, what a marvelous plan He weaves through us all. Oh, what a miraculous day it turned out to be.
I got home to find my daughter immediately exasperated and questioning my whereabouts. It had been two hours. She was frustrated but she was fine.
“Oh, honey… do I have a story for you!
The beautiful thing about this is that I knew my daughter would understand. I felt completely confident that she would join me in the joy of it all. And she did.
I prayed for this mama all day. I knew the place she was in… I had been there many times with my own kids. I decided to text her and follow up to make sure she indeed made it home and her baby girl was fast asleep by now, and she- this dear mom who had been through the toughest battle of her motherhood journey… had recovered.
“Praying for you! You are NOT allowed to feel any shame or remorse. Only love and goodness and light! Promise? Just had to send a quick text and tell you how blessed I am to have met you today. Hang in there mama! (Chris Carter, your new bff. LOL) Coffee date in the coming year!”
“Chris, you saved me from a nervous breakdown (or worse!) today!! I am the one who is blessed for having met you. She finally stopped crying once she realized I was crying and the poor girl felt sad for me! Thank you sincerely for your help and hugs and for being my guardian angel during one of my most challenging periods of motherhood ever. I hope God smiles on you and your family as He has on me by bringing you into my life. Let’s definitely get together soon under more calm circumstances so that I can get to better know my new bff!!”
I share this story to exemplify what happens when us moms tune in and sometimes dive in, to help another mother out. I share this story as a testimony for all the moms out there who do this, often. I share this story to remind ME that I need to listen to my heart and sacrifice parts of my own self in order to step out of my comfort zone and reach more willingly toward those who are in need. I share this story to offer encouragement to us all, and inspire us all to be moved into a purposeful mission when called.
I share this story, because it is one of compassion. Deep compassion, for another struggling soul who just needed a hand, a heart, and a hug. And in the end, we both got that very same thing.
Compassion does that, you know. When we act on it, it fills both the giver and the gifted.
I was both that day.
Janine Huldie says
Aw, Chris you truly are amazing, my friend and just cannot say this enough ever. Seriously even after the week you had to help this other mom out in need was nothing short of spectacular and wonderful m. Thank you for sharing and hugs for just being you 😉
You know, Janine- I LOVE that you caught that part. I was completely DEPLETED. I needed REST and I got this instead… But the crazy truth is that God blessed ME that day. There’s nothing more ‘filling’ and ‘refueling’ than moments like the ones I had with that mama. God knows me well. I got JUST what I needed that day too. 🙂
Lynn hampton says
Love this! I could visualize this as I read it. I think this is my favorite story so far. Written beautifully as usual. But just love your heart. You are an angel!
Aw!!! I just can’t even find the words to show my appreciation, Lynn! Seriously… Your support and love mean more to me than you’ll ever know. THANK YOU, DEAR FRIEND!! (I hope you had a BEAUTIFUL Christmas? Lets definitely hang after break!)
I love this still! And what a beautiful example of what we should be at Christmastime. Love you
Thank you for coming by to read it again, WPB!! I’m on the look out for another mama in need!! To be continued… 🙂
Julie Jo Severson says
Oh! I was glued to the end. Like a Thriller! This is absolute humanity and truth all wrapped into a “Fireball.” I could feel that poor mama’s angst in the store and yours as you left your daughter at home. And I let out a huge sigh of relieve when you finally got her kids and groceries packed and buckled. Yes, I love hearing stories about these divine moments when it’s clear we were placed somewhere at a specific time to help someone in need. Follow those instincts, right? What a gift you are.
Julie, your response means SO much to me- because I kept thinking how wordy this entire post was and how I really needed to do some MAJOR EDITING! If YOU were immersed in the words, then I feel okay about it as is. Thank you SO much for ‘getting it’ as you always do. Oh, how I love your heart.
Sandy Garrett says
Chris, you are an angel on this side of heaven! I missed this last year but maybe I was meant to read it today instead. I have been in those shoes also. I just hope that I keep my eyes and heart open as you did to others that just need extra helping hands. Feet and hands of Jesus! I and all that know you are truly blessed to have crossed your path!
Oh Sandy! You are just so KIND. Thank you for your beautiful response to this story… I feel the SAME way about you, dear friend. Hands and feet of Jesus! YES!!! 🙂
Mary McLaurine says
Oh Christine, I love this. I, too, believe in Divine Intervention. Sometimes, we are just meant to be someplace for someone in need. And YES, THIS, THIS is what it is all about, especially at this time of year when so many are thinking about the materialistic side of Christmas and what they themselves will be “getting”.
You are a kind soul, tender-hearted and the world is a better place with you in it.
Mary, you have become a truly precious friend. I am so grateful for you! Your words of beautiful encouragement mean the world to me…
This truly is what everything’s about. AGREED!! And I believe this world is a much better place with YOU in it too. XOXO
marie kléber says
It can be so crazy when kids don’t control themselves anymore and the world is looking at you like you are the worst mum ever.
You did something truly beautiful Chris. For sure we need to be there for one another. Cause we’ve all been there once. We need others to let us know that it’ll be ok, that we’ll be ok.
You are an angel dear.
I bet she’ll remember your kindness all her life…
Love to you and stay blessed
Thank you sweet friend! I hope she remembers so that she can realize she is NOT alone. I know many times, I felt alone- and it’s an awful feeling. We truly need each other in this motherhood gig!
LOVE to you. XOXO
Lisa @ The Meaning of Me says
I remember this one – still fits. I’m keeping this in mind and promise to be extra aware when I’m out in the world.
I love you for coming by to take it in once again, my friend! I miss you TOO. I hope you had a beautiful Christmas, honey. XOXO
Tasia @Batavia''s Best Bargains says
WOW! This is so touching. I love it because my kids are in the tantrum stages right now and how powerful of a position you took. Truly an inspiration and a great reminder for us moms to stick together and support one another because like you said, we have all be there!
Thanks so much! Gotta share this one!
I’m SO glad you read this, Tasia!! Us mothers really need each other. Thank you so much for sharing it! I hope it inspires more moms to lend a hand… We all deserve that kind of compassion. 🙂
What a perfect call-to-arms in this time! Thank you for re-posting your experience of extending compassion, and I pray we all can react with a compassionate heart in a time of upheaval. It’s simple – but not easy – yet completely Christ-like!
I love your response to this story, Lori! Yes yes yes! “I pray we all can react with a compassionate heart in a time of upheaval…” That is my prayer too. 🙂
Just love this Chris! It brings me back to the day long ago when my son at 2 had his first back-bending, uncontrollable Tantrum in Borders Book in Santa Barbara and all the mom who rushed to my side to help carry my bags to the trolley while my son did back flips, and will never forget the woman who looked at me with distain, ‘can’t you get control of your child’!! Your new friend will never forget you!
Oh what a story you have, Kathy! And don’t we all have them? I’ll never forget my toddler stripping down to NOTHING in Target… and me wrestling with her to get her clothes back on- and my infant son screaming just to make this unraveling moment better. Ha! I carried my girl out kicking and screaming and pushing my wailing son in the stroller… while people stared in judgement. NO one helped. I believe that experience inspired this one. EVERY mom deserves a hand. 🙂
Stephanie Lewis says
Wow. Just wow. Incredible tale — I was riveted to the writing! I kept hoping that when you got back in the store, someone would tell you your cart’s contents were paid for and taken to your car. Well, that’s for another pay it forward day. Great Mom Moment, you!!!
Ha! Now THAT would be a great ending to this story INDEED Stephanie!! But… no. In the end though- the text that followed was better than any groceries bought. 🙂 Thank YOU so much for coming by to read it!! XOXO
Oh, Chris, this story brought tears to my eyes. What a beautiful soul you are! There are times I have seen other moms struggling, and I have wanted to say or do something but haven’t known exactly what to do. Thank you for sharing this!
Thanks so much Bev. 🙂 I often don’t feel comfortable stepping in the way I did that day. BUT I have had this growing pressure to do what I would have wanted when I have been in that terrible circumstance when I was a mom of little ones. This was the confirmation I needed that do just that- any chance I can. It’s awkward at first- but then it gets SO real so fast- it becomes natural and easy and incredible all at once, as long as the mom is willing to receive the help offered.
Unfortunately, not all moms would. Some would turn their heads away. Good for you mamma. You’re one of the good ones,
As are YOU, my friend. As are you… XOXO
Marcia @ menopausal mother says
I remember this post—-it was one of my favorites. You have such a beautiful soul, filled with love and compassion for others. The world needs a lot more Christines…… xo
OH gosh Marcia! What a beautiful thing to write. Thank you so very much, my friend. XOXO
beth teliho says
LOVE ADORE every word of this! xoxo
Thank you, love!! XOXO
Andrea Stunz says
Oh, what a beautiful story!! “…and we fell into each other’s arms and cried.” This… YES!!
Thank you so much Andrea. *That moment* was it. I’ll never forget it. And I pray I can have many more like it, if I dare to open my eyes and reach out my hand again… <3
I am crying. Literally crying right now. I have so been that mom. In the line. With the howling little girl. Last week. I was that mom when my little boy was two. He bit me so hard. We’ve all been that mom. Amazing love you showed & how you just normalized an oh so normal behavior.
I love love LOVE that you get this, Sarah! Every mom has surely been THERE and unfortunately many times, all alone to handle the mess of it all. I too, have SO been there back in the day… all alone with the staring eyes and judgmental air. There should be NONE of that. We are all in this together… Right? 🙂
Kristi Campbell says
I love this so much. Would you consider writing a version of it for Our Land?
Oh, it would be an HONOR to share it in “Our Land” Kristi! Just take this one!! 🙂 It’s yours to share…
even better the second time around. Still made me cry and vow to seek out those moments where He can shine through us.
Oh I love that you read this one again, my friend! It makes me cry too… and yes oh yes! “Seek out those moments where He can shine through us”!!! Let us both do exactly that! XOXO
I love this story every time I hear it. It gets better with your words and wisdom. I cried the first time I read it.
Aw!! I do love this story too, and I appreciate you coming by to read it AGAIN my sweet friend!! Now… I need to make ANOTHER story like this happen again. There’s many moms who need help out there!
My Inner Chick says
You are amazing.
God’s special Angel.
My Prayer Warrior.
xxx Love. Appreciation. Hugs. From MN.
As are YOU, love. As are YOU. XOXOXO……