This lady had a story to tell. A story of being a single mother with children in the grocery store on a hard day. Every mother has been there, at one time or another. This story reminded me of one of my own.
I am not a single mother. I have a wonderful supportive husband, but he does work long hours so I can stay home with the kids. I adore him for it. It does mean I do much of the shopping and errands without him and with the kids so when he is off, we can have fun together.
One day when our oldest, mini-engineer, was three and his sister, pretty girl, was two he got sick. He didn't seem so very sick, so I put off calling the doctor but something was nagging at me. I finally gave in but because I didn't call first thing in the morning we had a very late appointment. We went. Mini-engineer had pneumonia among other things. We went to the pharmacy. Their computers were down, we waiting in line for over an hour. It was dinner time, the kids were tired and hungry and just not feeling well. We finally got our medicine and were walking out of the store when my son decided he had enough. He stopped and laid face down right in the middle of the sliding glass doors. No one could go in or out without stepping over him, the doors couldn't close. I was juggling our daughter the medicine and the food I'd picked up for dinner (because there was no way I was cooking). I tried to adjust everything to free up one arm to pick up my tired sick boy (who even as worn out as he was wasn't throwing a tantrum, he just wanted to lie down).
In the middle of all this, an elderly lady stopped me to tell me about a book that would help me train my son so there would be no more behavior problems. She said it would change my life. I could see she thought I didn't know how to manage kids, that I was too permissive, or maybe I rewarded tantrums. I was tired and cranky and didn't want to tell this stranger my problems so I listened, thanked her then tried to take care of my kids.
She thought she was changing my life. For the better. In reality, all I needed was a smile. A comment that while I was frustrated now, it would all be okay, hang in there. I needed someone to hold my bag while I picked up my two toddlers, then someone who would hang that bag on whatever part of me extended enough so that it wouldn't fall off. I needed to take my sick child home. I did not need a lecture on child rearing. And in the old lady's defense, she didn't lecture, just offered some advice on a book to help me raise my 'difficult' child.
But we don't always know what other people need. When in doubt, a smile might be best.
What does this have to do with writing? Nothing. Except this is my life. The non-writing part of it. The part that dominates. A part I love. My children have grown since that event, rarely are we treated to a grocery store melt down anymore. And while those times were difficult, I do miss the toddler years.