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To The Stranger at the Store

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It was a rough day. I had a bad day at work and was completely exhausted. I had worked 9 hours and picked my kids up from daycare. I still had to run to the grocery store and make dinner. My 3 year old daughter had begged and pleaded to come shopping with me.

*Sigh* “Mommy is so tired sweetie. I’ll be right back, I promise!” But to no avail, the little one so desperately wanted to tag along with me. I caved.

We made it to the store and had been shopping for a few minutes when I saw you. A gentle looking older woman, I noticed you watching my daughter and smiling. She was going on and on, telling me about her day at school and what her new favorite show was. About half way through the store, there you were again, still giving a thoughtful glance our way. I smiled back politely back, thinking maybe my daughter reminded me of your own daughter.

Then towards the end of our trip, we spotted you yet again. You came over to me and asked if you could interrupt. You proceeded to tell me how refreshing it was to see me engaging in such great behavior with my daughter. How it was so nice to see a mom actually listening and partaking in a conversation with their child, and not just brushing them off. That it was wonderful how I was speaking to my child like an adult and not a toddler. You said you had been a social worker for many, many years, and it just made your heart happy to see me interacting with my daughter the way I did.

What you didn’t see is that when I got home from work that day I was completely drained. You didn’t see that I was impatient when my kids were trying to climb into the car when I picked them up, and you didn’t see the irritating look in my eye when I had to wait for them to buckle themselves into their car seats.

You didn’t hear the tone in my voice when they asked for fruit snacks as soon as we walked in the door. Or see the exhaustion in my body language when they asked me to sit on the floor with them and play a board game. You didn’t see the look in their eyes when I said, “Not right now, Mommy’s busy. Maybe later.”

Despite all of these things, you still saw me at the store that day. You saw me as the mother that I really am, the mother that I strive to be every day. You saw past my sleep deprived eyes and saw the real definition of motherhood.

You saw a mom who loves her kid, who was happy to be spending those 25 minutes shopping with her daughter, listening to her ramble on and on. You saw me smiling and laughing. You saw a hard working mother with a lot on her plate that day, but who loved her child immensely.

So to the woman in the store, I need to thank you. There are days when being a mom is a struggle, when I feel like I have failed as a parent.

Thank you for reminding me that bad moments in motherhood will come and go, but the good ones will far outshine the bad. Mistakes will be made, but they won’t define who I am as a mother.

Thank you for reminding me that at the end of the day, despite my imperfections, I’m still a good mom.

Thank you for seeing me that day, and all the good that I can be.

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