Some mornings I’m ultra-ambitious & go to multiple locations with all three of my children. That may not seem like much; but there are car seats to unload, tantrums to ward off, and bathroom breaks to fit in. It’s a lot to do in 100 degree weather by yourself. By the second stop, I’m normally wondering why I thought this was a good idea in the first place. I’ve found that there’s only one way to survive it: a whole lot of prayer & an arsenal of snacks.
This morning was an ultra-ambitious one. We hit two Goodwills and the library before 10am. On the way back to the house, I decided to pop into Walmart since the kids weren’t tearing each other apart yet. As I pushed the cart through the glass doors, I couldn’t help but get a little cocky. This is how Wonder Woman would feel if she ever decided to procreate. And I’m sure that lasso would be so handy.
By the time we checked out and arrived at the steaming hot car, Josie was done. She was doing that high pitched banshee scream that she does when she’s feeling things: frustration, happiness, boredom. Pick your emotion, and she’s got a screech that reaches decibels that will make your eyes water & ears bleed. The other kids were also beginning to complain about the heat (and their bursting eardrums), so I knew I was on the clock. WWWWD? What would Wonder Woman do?
That’s when I heard a voice behind me. “Wow! Look at you! Can I please help you? I’d love to grab that door for you.” She reached her gnarled hand for the van door, and I quickly slid my now grinning baby (of course) into her seat.
The voice belonged to an older woman with a wealth of experience. She told me that she had been exactly where I was; she had had a two year old at home when she brought home twins. Talk about Wonder Woman. “You certainly have your hands full. I remember those days,” her husband said, as he reached over her shoulder to hand me the water bottle I’d forgotten in the cart.
In the moment, I was struck by it, the juxtaposition of older parents helping the younger. The contrast of circumstances was striking. I would be driving my van of chaos home, while these two would walk peacefully hand-in-hand through Walmart. Sometimes all I want is some peace and quiet, but the way these two were talking to me almost sounded wistful.
I needed to have that moment, where the contrast was so stark. I needed to be reminded to be thankful, not just for the help & empathy from total strangers, but also for the slightly disheveled and sweaty little humans we were loading into the van together.
Those two have been where I am, and some day I’ll be where they are. Some day, my kids will be grown & gone, and I’ll go to Walmart with my husband without thinking about the Tetris that is loading children & groceries in a single cart. I won’t have to calculate how many snacks away I am from total meltdowns or have an anxiety attack if I forgot the wipes. I won’t have to answer a million questions about every item we see or head off a dozen tantrums when I don’t agree to bring home the gargantuan stuffed animal that wouldn’t fit in the cart anyways.
But I also won’t have them…these unique, exhausting, sometimes infuriating precious little people…to shop with.
I turned to the man & his wife and said, “I do have my hands full, but it’s such a blessing. I’m so thankful for them.” He smiled and nodded knowingly. Sometimes kind strangers teach you things in the parking lot of Walmart. Embrace the hands full-beautiful-craziness that is young Motherhood. That time is a blessing, and it doesn’t last long.