Last week I had an encounter with The Grocery Store Lady. You’ve met her before too, I’m sure. She’s the one who walks by with a snide comment or a judgmental look centered around what you should or should not be doing with your children. She often strikes when you are at your weakest creating a perfect storm and leaving it all in her wake.
This was certainly accurate of my encounter with her, and true to form it had been quite the day, quite the week really. I was feeling d.o.n.e. physically, mentally, and emotionally and was most definitely not at my best. W and I headed to the grocery store, both of us in need of an outing. I settled him into the grocery cart, and pushed him over to the Kid’s Club to choose a “treat.” This little man’s joy in life is enjoying an organic fruit strip during a shopping excursion. I held up two different flavors for him to choose from (choice empowers remember?!), and his face lit up as he reached for one. At that exact moment, she appeared: The Grocery Store Lady. She looked disparagingly at us and said, “You know, you really should give him a banana. They are much healthier.” And with that, she pushed her cart away from us leaving behind a cloud of green smoke (not really, but that’s what it felt like).
I was dumbfounded, and because it had been such a difficult week already, I was struggling to hold back tears. Who says things like that?! And to a young mom in the grocery store?! It’s a miracle I am even here, lady! As I composed myself and resumed my mission, which was to buy “tree nut free treats” for a birthday celebration in M’s class, (take that Grocery Store Lady), I thought of how ironic it was that The Grocery Store Lady had chosen me that day. I’m not a perfect mother by any stretch, but I will tell you that feeding my children healthy food is something I do well. Not that it matters, but W had eaten organic almond flour pancakes for breakfast that morning, so don’t think the irony was lost on me. My children’s “treats” are indeed organic fruit strips, and that works for us. I have friends who tease me about the deprivation my children suffer due to their minimal exposure to sugary treats (you know who you are!), but in truth this is something I am passionate about as a mom. So, when The Grocery Store Lady called me out for not making the healthiest choice for my child, it made me mad!
In that moment of anger, frustration, and shock I also had a moment of gratitude. I was grateful for the women, especially my fellow young-in-the-trenches-mothers, who would NEVER stop and say something like that. A knowing glance or a simple smile would have been all that was exchanged. There would not have been any words of judgement. So, in that moment, I chose to let gratitude rise to the top of all those other feelings I had swirling around. I was intensely grateful for this village that surrounds me, a village made up of friends and family who provide daily support as well as a village made up of silent strangers who stand with me in solidarity on this journey. They are the ones who offer to help you unload your cart while you deal with a fussy toddler or who entertain your child while you check out providing the much needed assistance to make it through those last 5 minutes. They are a force to be reckoned with, and in that moment I chose to look to them instead.
When I return to the grocery store, I will look for that mom who is part of this village and needs some help. I will do something that will make that moment easier for her, even if it’s just telling her she is doing a great job. While we all have our own opinions (I’m looking at you, Grocery Store Lady), what matters most is that we lift each other up and respect the decisions of those around us. Hand in hand. Step by step. That’s the village I want surrounding me.
Find the joy~
PS-Do you feel like you could use some more support in your village? Is there a certain area of parenting that is especially challenging right now? Small Hands Big Steps can help by giving you the tools you need to move through it. Contact us today to schedule a consultation!