When you’re single and young and dumb, you don’t always connect with other women. I didn’t, anyway. You have your friends, new and old, but your first move when you meet other women might not necessarily be warm and fuzzy. It might be competitive, a little judge-y, or at the very least aloof.
Maybe you’re above all that, and if so, that’s awesome. Me? I confess that even in my professional days as a female sportswriter covering Major League Baseball, I didn’t always feel some kind of sorority-ship with other women in the media, even as rare as it was in the early days to see another woman walk into a baseball locker room. I actually had Hall of Famer Braves pitcher Greg Maddux give me a hard time once for not immediately walking over and welcoming a young and lost-looking female reporter into the Braves clubhouse.
I was a little embarrassed, and he was a lot right. I changed my ways after that or tried to anyway. Maddux is a wise and good man, in addition to being a helluva pitcher.
Motherhood changed all that for me. Compassion towards other women, and other moms, comes a lot more naturally to me now. Even toward the perfect ones (smile). You know the ones with flawless makeup (and makeup, at all!) the Louis Vuitton bag, the big honking wedding ring, and the best-dressed kids, who seem like they have it altogether. They don’t, because they have little humans. Everybody knows that this ride we are all on is way out of control, and we are all just trying to survive it. Motherhood is the great equalizer.
I can strike up a conversation with a perfect stranger these days, exchange knowing glances with her, lend somebody a hand at the drop of a hat and have other women do the same for me. I did one afternoon a couple of weeks ago.
I had ventured out to the Harris Teeter with my 1-year-old twin boys, something I don’t often do. Usually I wait until the weekend, when my husband and I can go together. He usually pushes my 2-year-old in a grocery cart where we put the food, and I push the twins in a double stroller. But this time I couldn’t wait. The twins’ birthday was coming and I needed a few things to make cupcakes.
Most grocery carts don’t come equipped with two seats for babies, unless you’re at Costco (yet another reason to love Costco!) So if you don’t come across one of the jacked up kid-friendly carts in the parking lot of the grocery store or Target, you’re out of luck. I decided I would push the twins in our double stroller and carry a reusable grocery bag over my shoulder.
With this being a rare trip to the grocery store, of course I loaded that thing to the brim and still came across something else I wanted. But not until I got back out to the minivan, packed the twins into their car seats and was folding the stroller up to put in the back did I realize I’d left two boxes of frozen French toast sticks in the bottom of the stroller. I had not paid for them.
My first thought was OK, just leave. Make it up to Harris Teeter another time. No one saw me. Surely the grocery store gods will forgive me $8, knowing the sheer energy it would take to open that stroller back up, unbuckle two babies from car seats – including one in the middle of two other car seats – put them back in that stroller and go back into that store to pay for those dang French toast sticks.
The problem was, I would have to tell somebody to get this off my chest, and that somebody would be my husband. My husband is a boy scout. (Literally, he was an Eagle Scout.) In situations like that he always marches back into the store and pays, and I know he’d encourage me to do the same, even if it was after I got home. Either way, I knew I had to address this situation right here and now, but I’ll be doggoned if I was going to get those two babies back out of the car.
So I started circling the parking lot until I figured it out. I saw a grocery store employee collecting carts and thought surely he could help me. It turns out he must have been single, young and dumb (ha!) because he had no answer for me other than that I would need to go in and talk to the manager. Um, me going in was the problem!
I pulled up in the fire lane in front of the grocery store and started looking around for something or somebody to help me.
Only maybe five or 10 seconds went by before I spotted a mom. Not just a mom, but a twin mom! A woman pushing two babies in a stroller was headed right for the door. I opened my car door and yelled out to her, “Are you a twin mom?”
“Yes,” she said.
“I am too,” I said and started to explain my situation. I hadn’t gotten through the second sentence, when she nodded, interrupted and said, “You need me to stay at your car so you can run in?”
“Yes!” I said.
(Here’s where non-moms might interject, “Leave two babies in the care of a perfect stranger?” Yep. She was a twin mom with twin babies, and that’s all I needed to know.) I got my wallet, those two boxes of French toast sticks, rushed through the glass doors and paid $8 in cash to the closest cashier I could find. Conscience clear, I came out, properly introduced myself to this awesome twin mom, and thanked her profusely. She waved it off.
We talked for a few minutes more and then before I pulled off, I asked her how she was going to handle shopping with both babies. (Hey might as well learn something on how to avoid this in the future, right?) She shrugged and said she wasn’t sure. She rarely did it. (See?!!) I told her carrying a shopping bag seemed like a good idea for me. At least it did walking into the store!
We smiled and parted ways. I should have written down her name because with mom brain – poof – it was gone from my mind almost instantly. Janice, I think is what she said. I would have loved to have found her on social media or figured out a way to write her a thank you note or send some kind of gift. But since I didn’t think fast enough on my feet, the best way I know to pay her back now is to pay it forward and help out another mom in a bind. So that’s what I’ll plan to do.