‘A stranger approached, startling me by placing her hand on my shoulder. ‘Can I do anything to help? Would you like me to buy you a coffee?’: Mom ‘surprised’ by young mother’s kind gesture, ‘I wasn’t as alone as I felt’

“It was a picturesque Saturday in May. The air was warm, the sun bright, and I spent the morning leisurely drinking coffee and getting ready with my daughter. My husband and son returned home from their shopping trip, showering me a day early with Mother’s Day gifts. It was my third Mother’s Day, and it seems with each successive year, they grow more special than the last. I know one day that will change, but for now, I’ll continue savoring the feeling of the sapphire heart-shaped necklace lying against my chest that my three-year-old picked out for me.

Afterward, I needed to head out and go to the grocery store. I buckled up our toddlers and decided we would play at the park first. I spent a good hour soaking in their smiles and listening to their giggles as I pushed them in swings and climbed up after them. They ran and slid and played in the tire mulch until they grew sticky with sweat and exhaustion. And as I buckled them up again, I realized I had forgotten to pack any snacks.

That’s when the tears broke loose. That’s when reality crashed back into place. I promised them we would buy squeezies (fruit pouches) at the store. Five minutes later, we parked and headed in. I kept thinking about the gift my husband had given me, a dress for my cousin’s wedding the following month. My daughter was going to be the flower girl, and we still didn’t have a dress picked out. I decided we would take a detour and check out the children’s clothes next door before buying groceries. In my excitement, I’d forgotten about the promised snack. My toddlers hadn’t.

We spent all of two minutes browsing the girl’s section before floodgates gave to way bloodcurdling screams. It felt as if my daughter’s lungs could shatter glass and puncture the eardrums of everyone inside. I tried to scold her. I tried to help her calm down and allow us to look a little longer, but her scream both deepened in volume and heightened in pitch.

Her brother hadn’t prepared me for this. In all his three years, I had never experienced a tantrum this severe. But that’s what second children are for, right? To teach you just how much you don’t know.

We quickly made our way out of the store, eyes following us as my redheaded banshee proved her vocal strength. Really, it was both terrifying and impressive. We stopped just outside of the doors and I quickly lowered her out of the cart. I tried to get her to sit in time out, but she kept bucking her head back and I was worried she would smack it on the cement. I safely lowered her the rest of the way, until she was lying on the cement and screaming her heart out as her silent brother and the rest of the world looked on. That was when the grandma approached us.

I can’t remember what she said, but her thoughts were clear. She wanted me to scoop up my inconsolable daughter and comfort her. She wanted me to transform my stern hand into one of commiseration. And I’ve done that before, but at this point, my daughter was too far gone. She doesn’t want me when she’s angry. I’ll offer to hug her, and she’ll refuse and cry harder. As much as this woman wanted to intervene and help, she didn’t know my daughter.

That’s when another stranger approached, startling me by placing her hand on my shoulder. I looked up in surprise as she said, ‘Can I do anything to help? Would you like me to buy you a coffee?’

Her son sat quietly in her cart, and she held a Starbucks brew in her other hand. In that moment, I realized I wasn’t as alone as I felt. She got it. Unlike the older woman next to me, this young momma hadn’t experienced enough time for the lessons of parenting to grow softer and muted. She wasn’t distanced enough to forget just how hard parenting can be. I politely declined her offer, and soon after, I placed my daughter back into out cart and headed to the parking lot to make our way home. As failure riddled as our shopping outing had been, my confidence wasn’t completely shattered.

I had spent the morning enjoying my gifts- my two beautiful kids.

My daughter fell asleep in the truck and slept for the next three hours. My son and I went back to the grocery, and we had a blast just the two of us. When my daughter woke up, it was as if the tantrum had never happened.

The whole day served as this beautiful reminder that motherhood is often a crazy, wild spinning top that can flip on its head and crash, only to start twirling in a flash of colors. And as it spins and spins and spins, a story is carved in our hearts from the top’s sharpest point, indelibly marking us and changing us for the better.

I’ll always remember how that stranger didn’t judge me. She offered me coffee. And some day, I hope to be just like her, and do what she did for a fellow momma in the trenches.”

Courtesy Rachel Weidner

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Rachel Weidner, 25, of Indiana. Follow Rachel’s journey on Instagram here. 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.

Read more stories from Rachel here: 

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