Today as I stood in line at Target (my home away from home), I felt the eyes of many strangers on me -- as I usually do when I walk around with a cart full of babies. Walking around in public with twin toddlers is no easy task. Not only do you have to keep two fickle little people happy, but you have to concentrate and remember everything on your list, stop to say hello to curious strangers, and break up baby fights (hilarious and annoying at the same time), all while bending over every 30 seconds to pick up a toy/food item that was thrown out of the cart.
In a desperate attempt to get everything I needed, I strategically placed several obnoxious and flashing toys in the front of the cart with my girls. I wasn't really finished shopping, but I could sense that my time was running out. Toys and pretzels began to fly out of the cart from every angle at an increasingly rapid pace. Many people passed by our red, two-person, marching-band-piano-cart (and when I say piano, I mean that every time two toddlers furiously strike the keys, you hear the not-so-soothing sounds of a cat meowing loudly to the beat). Some people smiled. Some said hello to my girls. Some looked at us and quickly moved on. I get it. We were making kind of a scene.
But someone stopped me briefly -- a mom with two girls tagging behind. She came right up to me and squeezed my arm. Without hesitation, she said: "You're doing a great job, Mom."
We left the store with one less shoe than we arrived with (babies), a food crusted sweatshirt (me), two new stuffed animals (like we need more of these), six plastic big girl cups (probably won't be used for another year), and some of the items on my list. As I pried bits of pretzels and string cheese out of the fists of my babies, I realized that I forgot the thing on my list that inspired my trip to Target in the first place.
But we made it out of there, and I left feeling good. Someone thought I was doing a good job, and told me so. I know that she was a stranger. I know that she doesn't actually know me or my skills as a parent. I know that she can't possibly know if I'm doing a good job with my kids.
But what she does know is this: how hard it is to be a mother, how hard it is to get through the days, how hard it is to balance everything, how hard it is to give yourself completely, how hard it is to walk through life with all that responsibility -- all that love.
Her words came at the right time -- and hit me exactly as the strain of my week began to mix with the exhaustion of my day. The time of day where I felt so close to the end, but still wondered if I would ever actually make it to my bed and Netflix.
When she said "you're doing great," what she actually meant was, "you have the hardest job in the world -- and you're doing it. I see you, and you're doing it."
I don't know her, and she doesn't know me. But her words mattered.
Because I believed them.