Thursday, January 19, 2017

How to Help Moms in the Grocery Store

Have you ever been to a grocery store?
During any of your visits, have you ever observed a mom shopping with her young children?
Ever seen her scrambling to keep them in line?
Or frustrated, because she's failing?
Maybe you've been that mom?
Taking for granted that you answered "yes" to the first four questions, have you ever reached out and tried to give that mom a hand?

Monday when I was shopping for our weekly groceries I came across one such mom and her son in the meat department. I'm guessing Little Man had brought along a new toy. It looked kinda like this:
And he was using it to touch just about every.thing.
I could tell the mother was tiring of Little Man's propensity to pick items up with his grabbing toy. In fact, even if I hadn't seen her with my eyes, I would have been able to assess her emotional state by the weariness I heard in her voice.
From an outsider's view, I didn't think Little Man was causing any harm. But I could so relate to that mother. I knew she was feeling like the entire store was watching her, judging how well she could, or couldn't, control her son's behavior. Been there. Done that. Don't wanna go back!
And so, in an effort to let her know that Little Man's behavior wasn't bothering her fellow shoppers I leaned toward her and said, "Excuse me. I could use some help reaching something. Do you think your son could assist me?" When she got Little Man's attention and he came toward me I feigned being unable to reach a roll of sausage, and asked if he would please help me.
Oh, if you could have seen the pride in his face as he maneuvered that grabbing tool over the sausage, picked it up, and successfully delivered it right into my hand. It was a precious sight.
I then thanked Little Man profusely, gave mom a wink, and carried on with my shopping.

Annnnnnd, my point?

I have been grocery shopping without my children for about 12 or 13 years now. And I still haven't forgotten how difficult some of those trips were! As a mom who's been there I am prone to notice other moms who are there right now, and my heart goes out to them. But I don't think it's enough for just my heart to go out. Moms need tangible support. So my habit has become to watch for moments like the one I saw Monday, and to reach out in word or deed to give that mom encouragement.
Maybe it's a knowing smile and a whispered, "Hang in there!" Sometimes I talk to the kids and compliment them for being a good helper in the store. Occasionally, I get to do something fun like I did with Little Man.
The point is, all moms need encouragement - and maybe especially so when they're grocery shopping with the kiddos.
So, for the love of humanity and the well-being of future generations - when you're in the store please pay attention to the moms with children. If it looks and sounds like all is well, carry on. (Smiling at her and commenting about how adorable her children are would be acceptable, too.) But if she's getting frazzled and it seems as though angst is rising please extend a gentle gesture to let her know she isn't alone, and you aren't thinking poorly of her.
Your kindness will go a long way.
For her and the kids!


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