Who hasn’t been in this situation: You’re in Target with your kids, exhausted, and shopping for a long list of stuff for the house like diapers, paper towels, cereal and juice boxes. You sneak a little something for yourself into the cart, like a pair of pajama bottoms, or a little knick-knack for the kitchen. But then, you get to the checkout line and realize you’ve spent waaaay too much money. So, what goes back? Anything for you, of course. Because as moms, we always put ourselves last. Always.
This was exactly the scenario for Virginia nurse and mom-of-four Erin Bennett last week. She had picked up a seasonal candle for herself, but then, having hit her budget, decided to pass on the one thing she’d wanted. That’s when a kind stranger stepped in and made her day. Bennett shared her story on the Love What Matters Facebook page, and yeah, you’re going to feel this mama so hard.
"To the man in line behind me at the Gainesville Target, who saw that after hitting my grocery budget limit I decided to put back my Pumpkin Spice candle and the makeup I had picked out,” Bennett addressed her viral post.
“You didn't know that I always save my stuff for last and usually end up putting it back,” she went on to explain. “You didn't know that the two fussy kids I had with me, were only two out of four. You didn't know that I have postpartum depression from the youngest babe and that I use scent as a way to boost my mood.”
Bennett went on to recount how her week had consisted of sick kids, parent-teacher conferences and emergency dental appointments. The one thing she’d looked forward to in the midst of all the chaos? Lighting that candle while her kids were napping, and just taking a moment to relax.
“Even without knowing that, you saw me,” she writes to the stranger. “You saw me as a human, not just the mom in front of you that was distracted and going way too slow. You heard me say that I'd like to put those items back and you said you were getting them. You didn't take no for an answer. You told me I deserved it when I started to tear up.”
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The grateful mom calls the man “the good in the world.” She then promises to pay it forward.
Hey listen, we may not all be fortunate enough to stand in front of a good Samaritan in the Target checkout line. But the moral of the story for me is that we should try to find room to do nice things for ourselves as moms. Even if we can’t afford the extras, like candles, maybe it’s about taking a few moments to breathe deeply. Or stretch. Or make some tea.
Bennett was overwhelmed at the response her blog post received. "I think the reason is that this is what people want to see more of in the world. Maybe some part of us hopes that the more we share things like this, the more people will be encouraged to do these things. I don't think there's many of us out there right that aren't discouraged by what we're reading in the news. This man is the kindness we wish to see in the world."
My takeaway: We just need to stop always putting ourselves last. Because we are the caregivers of the family, and as I learned after a recent, crushing pregnancy loss, when I fall apart, so does the rest of my brood. So now, I am deliberate in how I treat myself. I make time for yoga, and my morning coffee. I try and sit down to rest when I’m tired, far more than I used to. I avoid eating meals in the car, or standing up, or not at all. I matter, is what I learned. I matter because my kids depend on me to keep it together, at least somewhat!
I hope more moms who read Bennett’s post will see that they matter, too.
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