Help Her Out!

18 04 2014

So you see that lady at the grocery store…the one with ALL THE KIDS??

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Well…if she is there on a holiday weekend with three kids ages 3 and under…just know, there was probably no other choice.   It’s possible that her girls got their 1 year shots on the day she had previously set aside for grocery shopping…and she stayed home with everyone because they were mad!  It’s possible her husband is having to work a ton…and she wanted to spend the evening at home with him…which meant doing the grocery run during the day for once.  It’s possible she’s got a very involved holiday baking plan and just needed a few more things to make it work.

Whatever the reason, she is there.  Here is how to interact with her:

1. DO give her a compliment.  Anything.  “You’re doing a great job!”  “Those kids are cute!”  “You remembered both your own shoes!” Anything.  She needs it.  She probably hasn’t talked to anyone over the age of 3 all day.

2.  DON’T stop her and tell her a story about your old roommate’s second cousin who had twins…but one died.  She doesn’t have time for that.  She doesn’t need to hear that.  In fact…you probably don’t need to ever tell that story again.

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3.  DO ask if you can grab something for her.  Chances are, despite her detailed list…she forgot something on the other side of the store.  And in her head, she’s doing the math to decide if the kids will be happy long enough to justify the trip back over there to get it.  Did she really need those bananas?  Probably…but she may decide to cut and run without them if one of the kids is unhappy.  YOU could be the reason those kids have bananas for breakfast tomorrow!

4.  DON’T scowl at her because the huge double stroller is blocking the aisle.  It’s blocking the aisle because some idiot left an empty cart there too.  She can’t move it with the one hand she’s got free.  Smile at her.  Move it yourself.

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5.  DO ask if you can grab her some lunch and meet her at checkout.  That empty coke can in the stroller cup holder was probably her breakfast and lunch, even though she has fed 3 other people at least 2 meals apiece by now.  If you happen to be in the type of grocery store that is also a McDonalds/Subway/Auntie Annes (Did you know there are WalMart’s with Auntie Anne’s??)…or maybe the type with a Starbucks…ask her if you could buy her some lunch/coffee and meet her at the checkout.  She will probably say no…b/c it might be weird if you’re a total stranger AND b/c mom’s with that many kids are pretty tough anyway.  But she might say yes…b/c she’s desperate and b/c mom’s with that many kids have probably had to learn to accept help.

6.  DON’T compliment her on her “three handsome boys”…unless she’s actually got three handsome BOYS.  If you can’t tell, just say “cute children” or “adorable kids”.  Don’t heap on that guilt because her baby girls are wearing their brother’s hand-me-down tshirts and no headbands (and may actually look like boys).  You may not realize that one of them puked on the other one while she was trying to get everyone in the car.  And because it’s laundry day, she’s down to old tshirts.  She probably gave up on the headband fight long ago.  Just be happy her kids are all wearing clothes…smile at her…and keep moving.

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7.  DO let her go in front of you in the check out line.  She’s only got the amount of groceries that will fit in the basket under the stroller anyway.  AND if you don’t, you just might end up having to listen to her kid(s) cry the whole time you’re checking out.  Trust me, you–the adult alone in the grocery store–are NOT in a bigger hurry than the mom with 3 kids.  If you do go in front of her…consider paying for her groceries.  Buy a $10/20/100 gift card and leave it at the register for her.  She probably won’t notice until you’re long gone…because she is trying to keep everyone’s hands away from the candy.  But trust me, she’ll cry when she does.

8.  DON’T judge the crusty oatmeal on the back of the 3 year old’s head.  She doesn’t know how it got there…and probably didn’t know it was there until she was already at the store.  No amount of mom-spit-and-rubbing will get crusty oatmeal out of hair.  That stuff dries like cement.  Just smile…you were 3 once.  You probably walked around with dried oatmeal in your hair too.

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9.  DO ignore the smell coming from the baby on the left.  You may have noticed the lack of diaper bag in the stroller…that’s because she forgot it.  And, even if she had remembered the diaper bag, there is really no easy way to get a double stroller in a bathroom, keep a 3 yr old from touching stuff, and change a diaper…especially if there’s already merchandise in the stroller.  (BONUS:  if you happen to hear the 3 year old say that he needs to pee and he can’t hold it and he needs to go now…offer to walk with her to the bathroom and stand outside with the stroller.  Unless you happen to be wearing a prison inmate uniform, she’ll likely take you up on that offer.  Double strollers DO NOT fit in grocery store bathrooms.)

10.  DO smile at her.  She doesn’t know you.  You don’t know her.  But she is teaching three small people how to act in public.  If you followed her for an aisle or so, you’d hear her answer approximately 97 questions from the 3 year old.  She got them dressed (hopefully), into the car, out of the car, into a stroller, and through the parking lot without losing anyone.  She attempted to leave the house!  Reward her bravery!  Smile!  If you feel led, start clapping as she walks by.  She will cry.

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One response

19 04 2014
Christy Clark

Oh Ashley! You are truly amazing. Reading your blog makes me laugh and miss you! I commend you for taking 3 children to the store. I have 2 and I refuse to take both of them unless I just have to!! You have opened my eyes to be more aware of the other moms around me. I will do my best to help “that mom” at the store. Thank you for sharing your journey on your blog! I hope you have a wonderful weekend with family! Miss you Patti! Ha!

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