It was my last day of summer break with the kids.
I was struggling to make it both fun for them and productive for me, since I knew that heading back to teaching meant losing the freedom to run errands as needed. I had to make a return and exchange at Old Navy.
That’s when things got complicated. I watched the line of customers pile up behind us and felt my mommy anxiety rise. I prayed the baby wouldn’t start screaming. My two oldest kiddos began to make friends with the mannequins. They talked loudly to them, ran laps around them, and tried altering their perfectly coordinated outfits.
I was afraid to look at the judging eyes in line behind me.
My kids were not standing quietly next to me as society wishes. They could not mimic the frozen stance of the mannequins.
I bravely turned to the woman next to me (only purchasing gift cards) and said,
Her response gave me just the confidence I needed.
“I just want to say that I love your kids,” she replied with a warm smile.
I could have cried right there. She pointed out how much fun they were having. Honestly, I had not even noticed. I was so worried about them causing a scene when I was already slowing down other customers.
Through her eyes, there were no uncontrollable children. There was no eye roll. She saw only a sweet, fleeting moment in their childhood. Perhaps she was looking through the lenses of a mother, one who misses the unpredictable moments that make up motherhood.
When it was time for us to leave, I turned to her once more and said, “Thank you for being so sweet to us.”
“You made my day,” she replied.
Her kindness made my day. Her kindness gave me the courage to attempt one more store with my kids. One more store without worrying about the ways we might disrupt other shoppers. They needed new shoes for the school year.
I learned that our chaos just might make someone’s day.
I also managed to make our last day of the summer both productive and fun.
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