A mother walked up and needed help with her transactions. It was only 9:37 in the morning and she was already spent. She had one baby in her arms…one in a stroller…and a toddler running around grabbing everything he could get to.
“Noah….Noah…put that down. NOAH! …1……2……put that down. If I get to three!”
And at that moment the baby in the stroller started to cry. She looked back to see where her toddler went and she put her head down and let out a huge sigh. She stared at the counter. She was done.
I stood there and observed her struggle. She turned to me.
“I’m sorry…I can’t find my wallet. I think it’s in the car. Can I grab it really fast?”
“Take your time…not a problem at all.”
There were people behind her who needed help, but I didn’t care.
The woman directly behind her cared. And she let out a huge sigh. Her sigh was not the same as the mother before her. They were both of frustration….but one of them was of impatience.
I started to boil inside.
“You are angry because of this? This mom has her hands full…she is exhausted…she is trying her best to keep it together…and you can’t give her time to collect herself…how inconsiderate of you…how rude of you.”
I watched this lady behind angry eyes. She sighed again…and more loudly. She looked at her watch. She looked behind her to see if anyone could see her anger and if anyone else shared her frustration. There were people behind her but no one joined her cause. No one joined her sighs…They knew what was happening with the mother.
But, as a parent, we have all let out that sigh. That sigh of frustration…that sigh of exhaustion. Being a parent is not easy and some days you have nothing left in your emotional tank. And because we know that…and have felt that, we have a stronger compassion for parents and their struggles…we have more patience for that. We all can look back at days and remember when we needed people to be patient with us and our situation. In those tough situations, those baby/toddler tantrums in the middle of a public place…if you looked around there was always one person who looked at you and gave you a smile of encouragement. That was not a normal smile. That was a smile that said:
“Hey, I know what you are going through…I have gone through that. I understand. Don’t worry, it will get better.”
The mother walked back in and finished her transaction. I helped her with her business…and gave her a smile. She smiled back and looked back at the line behind her.
“I am so sorry…so sorry everyone.”
And one person smiled….and then another one. And a few people down…another smile.
And one day…in the future, that mom will have her opportunity to give the same “smile” to another parent who is having a tough day.