laborofwonder

Where Whine Meets Wine

A Direct Hit


Do you ever have one of those days where you want to just turn around, turn the lights back off, and get back into bed? Never? Ok, that’s it. We’re officially not friends. For those of you who know what I’m talking about… here’s to another round of coffee!

Saturday was such a day for me.

I needed to pick up a few things from the grocery store. Not a ton, just a few. The kids weren’t yet dripping, but were sniffling, and I wanted to make them my homemade chicken noodle soup. So I needed some more Organic Chicken Broth, an MSG-free version of Chicken Bullion Cubes, and a few other odds and ends that we were out of/running low on. Not more than a basket-full worth of groceries. When I pulled into the parking lot I was in shock. I’d NEVER seen our little grocery store that busy. The parking lot was full. I might as well have walked there because I think it took me longer to find parking than it would have to walk the just under .5 mile. I finally park, and go inside. There are exactly 2 carts left in the store. This is all shocking because while Saturday’s are typically busy, they’re not so busy that they ever have more than 3 cashiers. (I’m not kidding.) I’m pretty sure it was busier than Christmas Eve. I’m already annoyed at this point, because c’mon people, you’ve known about Easter all year long and yet here you are, frantically scurrying around like the world will end if you do not try every new recipe you found on Pinterest, and trying to take my cart out of my hands and the onion from within my reach.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel for you, and I know what it’s like when you’re not as prepared as you perhaps, should have been. But I’ve got sick kids, and a day of fun cancelled. So my sympathy is a little short-lived.

I finally make it to the soup aisle, trying to gather the last of my soup ingredients. I find the broth right away, but the bullion is being elusive. I stand there, scanning the rows over and over. Knowing full-well it had to be there and I was just missing it.  The aisle was full of people, and I was doing my best to stay out of everyone’s way. There was one lady in particular that seemed to be looking for things in the area I was standing. Three times I smiled and moved so that she could get through or in between myself and the shelves. Not once did she apologize, say excuse me, or even smile in return. She seemed exasperated that I was continuously in her way. I apologized saying (more to the store worker who frequently visits with the kids and I on our many walks to the store), My kids aren’t feeling well and I’m trying to make them some homemade soup and I just can’t seem to see what I need, even though I know it’s here. Store worker asks what I’m looking for and I tell him, and he starts to scan the shelves for my ultra-elusive MSG free, gluten free, natural chicken bullion. And I kid you not, while he was looking, the lady had the audacity to half say to me, half mutter to herself, Maybe if you’d have waited till you were an appropriate age to have children, you’d be old enough to know how to cook and where to find things. I froze completely. I look at her wide-eyed and disbelieving. I had to rerun it in my mind to make sure that actually happened.

I stood there a few moments, just staring at her in shock, before finding my voice. I was a little surprised to hear myself saying, I am thirty years old! And I am glad my children weren’t here with me, to be experience your rudeness! (I’m not actually 30… but I’m in the latest of my 20’s, which is close enough.) At this point, the worker realized he may have a cat fight on his hands, interjected with, Her children are some of the most well-mannered ones that come through our store. She rolled her eyes! And then acted all offended and walked away muttering about how if I was really thirty, I would have more manners. I stood there for a moment, just taking it all in. And then I grabbed the bullion from the poor man’s hand and ran to the checkout and got the heck outta there. I knew if I did anything else one of two things would happen. Either I’d find her and deck her, or I’d burst into tears. So I fled. And had a cry in the truck before heading home. Not because my feelings were hurt, but because I was SO angry. I mean, who talks that way to a stranger, let alone anyone! Livid would not begin to explain my emotions.

Looking back on it made me think about when THIS happened, or when I wrote The Muddy Mommy. After my cry (and a few days to calm down) I realized that it wasn’t just that I was embarrassed at the whole scenario or that I was angered by her words. I was angered by the way I was treated by another woman, possibly by another mother. Maybe she is a young grandma projecting her feelings onto me. Maybe she is not a mother, projecting those feelings onto me. Maybe she is just one cranky lady. I don’t know the feelings, or thoughts behind her words. And with most of our daily interactions, we don’t know what is going on in the people we encounter. But I do know that now that I can be rational about this scenario, that I will be more intentional about my interactions with strangers. I’ve had strangers make my day seem worthwhile, and I’ve had strangers make my day infinitely worse.  That’s the thing about choosing to live with intention, and wanting to model that for my children… I need to be intentional about the way I interact with others, whether they’re people I interact with on a daily, weekly, monthly, one once in a lifetime. I can be passing out smiles and warm-feelings, or I can aim and fire to make sure of a direct hit, like the one I received. Either way I can choose. You can choose. Life is hard enough, why would we want to add to that? Besides, if you’re so busy aiming at me, you could be missing out on an opportunity for us both to walk away feeling some reprieve of life’s trials.

And next time I attempt a trip to the grocery store on a weekend, let alone a holiday weekend, I’ll make sure I am properly coffee-fueled.

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Stranger Happenings


So we have lots of things going on right now… hubby’s brother (and his family) are moving to China and are here to visit before they leave. Which also overlaps with my brother getting married, and so we’re gearing up for that (as all but littlest E is a part of the festivities) and anticipating the arrival of a host of other out of town family members that we don’t normally get to see. So when I say we’re busy, I mean, things are insane and  I’m going a little crazy!! But we are enjoying the family time and hopefully we are able to really make the most of it! So if you’re wondering why I’ve suddenly become so boring or why my posts are no longer adding spice to your life… now you know.

So with all of the busyness of these weeks… I have some kids that seem to be a little wound, as well as myself. And Hubby/Daddy, he’s just plain tired. My normally, I-don’t-know-how-to-be-unhappy baby is crying, whining, and basically clinging to my legs all day long. Which does leave me a little big on the frayed side. Thankfully, Hubs came home early yesterday and so I was able to jump in the truck and go to the grocery store. I know it’s lame that most of my “down time” (read: kid free time) is spent at the grocery store, but they’re only little for a very short time. I’m never going to look back and say, “Man, I wish I would have spent more time away from the kids when they were little.” (I don’t see myself saying that about missing any point of their lives, but especially now.) Anyhow, I tend to dawdle at the store, because it’s my de-stress time, lame as it may be.

Usually my hour long grocery trip is uneventful, and the cashier is the only person to talk to me, and I’m just fine with that. And it’s enough time that I get home and the kids are like, “Yay! Mom’s home!” and I’m glad to see them. Yesterday was pretty much the same except for one minor detail. I say minor, because it really was no big deal. To look in, you’d never think of it as anything substantial. But for me, after the day I’d had with the kids, it was. Let me preface this by saying that we spent the weekend out of town and that I didn’t know until a day or two before that we were even going out of town. Then we got home past bedtime on Sunday and had company coming the next day. Starting to get the picture? And if I haven’t mentioned this before, I do not like disorder, and I like it even less when visible to people who don’t live with me. So I’m scrambling and trying to get things done as quickly as I can, while the children run behind me undoing just about every thing I do… and then add the fussing baby (do to teething and the busy weekend). So I was about to merge onto the meltdown lane. And then I went to the store.

I’m at the checkout, and the lady behind me starts making small talk as we wait. Why do they stick those order separator things so far out of your reach anyways? I smile and agree it’s ridiculous. And then this stranger showed me kindness. She looked at me and said, “You must have small children.”  I quickly look myself over trying to find the stamp (or hand print) that screamed, “I’m a mom.” I didn’t see any. Unless the state of my hair, my sweatpants, and the exhaustion in my eyes count. I smiled and said 3 and asked how she could tell.. She just smiled and said she’d recognized the look of exhaustion the can only be caused by 2 types of parenting: the under 3 crowd or the teenage crowd. And since I didn’t look old enough to have teenagers, it must be the former. I smiled and nodded, then asked her, “Teenagers?” She smiled, and I saw the exhaustion in her eyes as well as she nodded. And that was the the long and the short of our “conversation.” But somehow, afterwards I felt a little bit more refreshed. I think that it offered some sense of community. A moment of “I’ve been there before.” combined with “we’ve all got our own struggles,”  that made me feel a sense of the bigger picture as well. They’re not little for long, we all have different struggles, each as unique, and as hard, and as scary, and as sad as anyone else’s, because they are our own. But for a brief moment in time, I felt like I wasn’t alone in my struggle after all. So the next time you’re at the grocery store, the gas station, walking down the road… offer a little support to those you meet. Even if it’s only in the form of a smile. You never know how life changing (even if momentarily) it can be.

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