One day prior to the coronavirus pandemic, I ran into my local drug store to grab a few things. I left with Pokemon Band-Aids and a heavy heart.
I’m not a fan of errands like I once was.
We are the 'Amazon generation' and running into stores, even prior to the pandemic, sometimes... just seems like a hassle.
But one day last February, I was trying to find a lotion to help calm a common rash on one of my 5-year-olds. I wanted it that day, not the next day, and so I stopped into my local drug store.
The pharmacy staff was trying to help me find this uncommon topical lotion and sending me from aisle to aisle, then back to the pharmacy, then back to the aisles. I was getting frustrated but was determined to find this product the pediatrician suggested.
During my search, I suddenly heard someone crying.
I noticed a mother at the end of the lotion aisle with a stroller in front of her… and it wasn’t the baby that was crying.
The mom was crying.
She was kneeling down towards her baby’s stroller trying to buckle her child in and sobbing while trying to reason with her baby. The child was resisting - he was only about one year old.
I approached her and asked if she needed any help.
“I’m just sick and he won’t sit still and I’m trying to wait my turn for the clinic,” cried the mom.
The little guy was in his pajamas. He had thrown his bottle on the floor across the aisle and his mom was having a moment.
A moment so many of us have – whether we have children or not. These are the moments our children, our parents and sometime even our spouses don’t often understand.
This was a moment the male pharmacy staffers that were helping me certainly weren’t sure what to do with. They stood at the end of the aisle staring at this momma crouching down and crying next to her son who was halfway buckled in his stroller.
I gently approached and crouched down too -- trying to make funny faces so the little guy would let his mom buckle him in.
I wanted to take her baby out of the stroller and hold him while she calmed down or while she had her clinic appointment like my mom would have been able to accomplish back in the day (my mom talked any mom into letting her hold their baby).
I could tell this mom wanted to get out of this moment and do so quickly. Her fingers fumbled in frustration and sickness and stress, while my brain fumbled trying to think of things mindfulness superstars like the Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life ladies would say so easily in this moment.
I wanted to give her gobbles and gobbles of advice I’ve read as a mom over these past 7 years of motherhood.
I wanted to snap my fingers and make her feel better or at least get her to the front of the clinic line.
But all that came out of my mouth was “I have three young kids (as I showed her the four boxes of overpriced kid-themed Bandaids I was about to purchase). We’ve all been here. Take a deep breath. Is there anything I can do?”
She said “No, but thank you.”
She secured her child’s stroller harness and hurried back towards the pharmacy clinic.
I’m not sure if I helped that mom. I do know she wasn't as emotional when I left her as when I approached her and with me as a distraction, she was able to get her little guy buckled in that stroller.
But I felt a bit unfinished that day - not only because I did not find the darn lotion but also because I wanted to do more for that mom.
Maybe, just maybe, she only needed that moment... someone to run to her and help and say ‘I’m here.’
We have to remind ourselves that mom moments happen -- good ones and bad ones -- in a store (or not these days), on a walk or at home.
Accept the help. Be the help. And if you're really awesome, have a good motivational mantra prepared to share.
It will all make a difference... if even for a moment.