Monday, May 3, 2010

Strangers at Target

I had hoped one of my kids would do something cute and memorable today. Something I could write about. Something inspiring. And then today actually happened ...

We've all been in line at Target or the grocery store and seen a mom who was in way over her head. Screaming infant, toddler defying everything in her loudest outdoor voice, hand-held grocery basket digging into the crook of her arm, and 24 pack of Angel Soft balancing awkwardly on top of the double stroller ...

If I'm not in too much of a hurry, I give her a sympathetic smile. Otherwise I pretend not to notice her as I rush by. The exchange reminds me of times I've sat in my car and looked straight through someone panhandling on the corner as I wait for my light to turn green. I'm good at pretending the red light is the most interesting thing I've seen in weeks.

Well, today I was her. I was the mom at the grocery store, stressed and unlovely and not sure whether I wanted to be noticed or ignored.

But then the most amazing thing happened. I didn't scream. I didn't cry. I didn't even grit my teeth or bite my tongue. I did what moms everywhere do every day. I took a deep breath and kept going. Then a kind woman stopped and bent down to talk to the screaming Malakye in his stroller. He stopped crying long enough to flirt with her before she went on her way. Next the teenaged boy at the check-out counter offered to help us out to the car. I accepted.

I experienced a universal mom moment today—I tasted grace through strangers at Target. Maybe next time I see another mom in over her head or a homeless panhandler sitting at the corner, I can be that kind of stranger.

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