Dear Kind Stranger at Target,
You may not remember me, but I met you at Target last Thursday when I was shopping with my 2 youngest Goombas. It was not my proudest moment. You see, my son Luigi was having a very rough week. He has severe asthma and allergies, and due to an acute attack at his preschool on Monday morning, is on several different medications right now. I don't know about you, but when I am on lots of steroids and antihistamines, I don't always behave well. Neither does Luigi. Also, my normally sweet and adorable daughter, Peach, was a little tired from not napping all week. I also suspect she was coming down with a cold, since her nose was dripping like a faucet. Peach was not at her princess-y best that morning.
Just a few minutes before I met you in aisle 3, Peach decided to have a breakdown of monstrous proportions. She threw herself down on the floor by the frozen food and decided that Target was NOT where she wanted to be. I ended up tucking her under my arm like a football just to get her off the floor and move on. At the same time, Luigi, who was all hopped up on his meds, thought it would be fun to run laps around the aisles and laugh maniacally each time he ran into an end-cap and knocked a display over. In all honesty, I normally would have left the store over such misbehavior, but that was my third attempt that week to actually buy groceries. I had already left full shopping carts behind on the previous two attempts. At this point we desperately needed milk, bread, coffee and margarita mix. I was not going to leave the store without them.
By the time I came barreling around the corner and almost crashed into you while you were examining your bottle of bbq sauce, I was on the verge of tears. I had already gotten "the look" from several shoppers. I had already bribed the Goombas with cookies and milk, and even candy. I had threatened to take away trains and princesses if they didn't behave. I had pried glass jars of olives out of Luigi's destructive hands, and had picked up several cans of crushed tomatoes that Peach threw on the floor in her fit of rage. I was done. It was all I could do not to grab the both of them and spank them and duct tape their little butts down in the shopping cart.
And then, sweet stranger, as I mumbled an apology to you and dragged my children kicking and screaming behind me, you smiled a genuine smile at me. And I will never forget what you said to me. You said, "Hey, you are doing a great job!" I must admit, I probably gave you a very dirty look because your words took me so off guard. You went on to say, "Isn't being a mom so rough sometimes? But, you will survive! And your children are beautiful and they are just being kids." Then, you walked over and gave me a small hug and said again, "You are doing a great job." (Bowser wants to make it clear at this point in the story, to let everyone know that he tells me all the time that I am a great mom. Yes, that is true, but there is something very different about it when it comes from a complete stranger in the middle of a grocery store while your children are acting like heathens.)
You will probably never know what those caring words did for me that morning. Yes, I was still frustrated with the Goombas, but I was able to step back for a moment and realize that, yes, they were just being kids and that even kids have a bad day now and then. Part of me wanted to break down and sob in your kind arms. The other part of me wanted to kiss you and declare you one of God's Angels on Earth. As moms, we have such a THANKLESS and under-appreciated job of raising children. To hear a complete stranger say that I was doing a good--no great!--job, made my heart feel 100% lighter. Because of your compassion, I was able to muster up a bit more patience with my children. Enough to get us through the rest of the shopping trip without me going all ape-poop crazy on them.
Thank you, thank you for your understanding and encouragement. It is people like you that keep the world, and half-insane mothers, smiling. Cheers to you, dear lady!