“Parenting is a journey that is filled with many highs and lows. The ‘firsts’ always leave stark memories. The first time the baby slept through the night, the first time he crawled, the first time he said ‘Mama!’ But like everything in life, the joy in this journey ebbs and flows. And it’s in those unusually difficult moments that a random act of kindness can impact your life in unexpected ways.
It was a cold February morning in 2013 when I felt the NEED to prepare for impending Valentine’s Day for my husband and new baby boy. I’ve always been one of those that celebrate ‘everything,’ which meant this first holiday since our son’s birth had to be very special. Asher was 6 weeks old and up until that point, the only places I had taken him myself was on neighborhood walks. My husband had been on paternity leave for a few weeks, which is why all the driving around had been his problem. This was truly unchartered territory!
Driving down to Target, my little Asher was peacefully sleeping, which gave me the confidence I was doing the right thing. After finding a parking spot, I dragged out Asher’s stroller from the trunk of my car, pulled it open, and then lugged out his car seat. Snapping it in securely, I heaved a sigh of relief for not having activated my postpartum carpal tunnel wrist pain. It felt liberating to be able to do this myself! I walked in and was ecstatic to be back at my happy place.
Once inside, I happily browsed through aisles for decorations, a present for my husband, and then an adorable outfit for Asher. I felt elated to have my baby cooperate with our very first excursion together! As a treat to myself, I decided to pick up a few dresses to try on and head to the changing room. It was mid-outfit trials that little baby Asher woke up. I guess he was startled to be in an unfamiliar place so he immediately started crying. Generally, a calm baby who only ever whimpered complaints, these cries sounded more serious and kept escalating. I honestly froze. As a young first-time mom myself, I didn’t know what to do. I took him out of his stroller, tried to hush him, rock him… all to no avail. I know I must’ve looked panicked and I remember being very close to tears.
That’s when I heard an old woman speak out in her southern drawl, ‘Oh honey! Calm your nervous hands and give him to me!’ I wasn’t sure what to say, so just followed the lady’s cues. She managed to hush Asher down by singing a sweet tune, which allowed me time to get a milk bottle ready for him. As he settled back to have his milk, this lovely woman went on to say many comforting and encouraging words to me. One of the most profound things she said to me was, ‘It’s a child’s job to cry and it’s our job to figure out why! Soon you’ll understand all his cues and know better than him when he is upset!’ Boy, did she hit the nail on its head!
This episode left two kinds of impact on me: an in-the-moment effect and a long run one. There in the changing rooms of Target, I learned my first lesson in parenting. My palpitating heart settled down with the cries of my son this afternoon but it also settled the fear of being unable to handle my baby in public. The confidence I developed in my own mothering since then has had me not just traveling within the United States but also internationally with my son and eventually, my daughter. Hospital visits, grocery runs, school trips – everything came with its own set of problems that I knew I could handle. As we began our ex-pat journey, mommy-and-me excursions became a part of our daily routine and yes, bigger tantrums happened! But that woman’s kindness in that moment helped establish belief in myself and my children that allowed us to spend many special moments and make memories together over the years!
There was a bigger lesson I learned in the long run; I learned early on that every mother needs words of praises from friends and/or strangers. This woman in the aisles of Target could’ve just walked on as she saw me struggling with my wailing baby but she didn’t. She had no reason to be nice to me or help beyond basic human decency. I haven’t forgotten how it felt to receive that assistance when I was struggling and feeling like a hot mess. I hope to make other’s day by practicing the same every day and focus on the inherent goodness in people. To be mindful of the desire to be KIND every day is very easy once you make the promise to yourself. Since then, I’ve begun my motherhood blog that talks about our ex-pat life, and kindness has been a running theme on it.
We have all heard the saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. Well, we all have a role in that village! You could easily make a new other’s day by validating her feelings of being overwhelmed and telling her it gets better. Be that woman, that stops and lets you know, ‘I see you, I care!’ The sort that will stop and tell a fumbling, nervous mother she’s doing a great job! Hold the door open when you see a mom pushing a stroller through, pick the toy up instead of judging how messy someone’s kid is, offer to help if you hear a baby having a breakdown mid-air, and so on. It’s that easy to be the silver lining in someone’s stormy cloud.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Faiza Ali from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. You can follow their journey on Instagram and their blog. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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