May 6, 2021

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Hurting Vs Helping

One woman offered her opinion, and all it did was hurt me.  Two women offered their love and support, and it helped me heal.

A Hard Day

Last December, I had a busy day planned.  I thought I would have a nice time with the kids shopping, grab a bite to eat, and go see Santa.  However, PJ was running around everywhere and did not want to obey.  Stores that should have only taken 15 minutes took much longer as I tried to juggle him, AJ, and still purchase the things that I needed to.  Running out of time, I finally decided to stop by the the food court at the mall before going to see Santa.

Being just before Christmas, money was a little tight.  I was trying to find good food at a good price for the kids AND me.  The Arby’s had a decent priced meal that I could buy for each of the kids, but nothing that I saw for me.  However, right next to Arby’s was a Subway.  They had a great deal on a 6″ sub for only 3 bucks, so that sounded perfect!  However, I had two hungry kids, and I didn’t think I could juggle them PLUS their food while I ordered a sub. So, I picked a table right next to the two restaurants and got PJ eating.  AJ was still too short to reach the table without sitting on a lap/high chair, so I had no choice but to take her in line with me.

PJ still wasn’t settling down.  He kept standing up and yelling for me to look at him.  I kept responding to him to sit down and eat.  People gave me some weird looks as I constantly turned around to tell my child a table or two away to sit down and eat.  In the meantime, I was trying to carry a rambunctious little girl in my tired arms.  I finally reached the sandwich artist and began ordering my sub, putting AJ down for a little bit so I could rest my arms.

Soon after I put AJ down, a lady came right up to me and said, “You need to keep an eye on your kids.  Your son has almost fallen out of his chair.”  I was dumbfounded that someone was addressing me like this and just gave an honest answer – “Im doing the best I can.”  The lady then responded in a loud and hurtful tone “Well, you need to watch it or they are going to get kidnapped” and simply walked off.  There was now a quietness around the people who were standing next to me.  I grabbed my sub and AJ and sat down next to PJ.  

Once I sat down, I couldn’t help but start crying.  PJ and AJ just sat there eating their dinner while I tried to stop the tears long enough to eat my sandwich.  I couldn’t explain why this lady’s words had hurt me so much.  Maybe it was the way she had said it.  Maybe it was the stress of the day finally getting to me.  Maybe it was starting to think I was a bad parent.  Whatever it was, I just couldn’t stop crying.

Soon after I sat down, another woman approached me.  This one was a little different, though.  She put her arms around me and gave me a hug.  l don’t remember every word she spoke, but she told me not to worry about the other woman.  She then told me I was a good mom and my kids weren’t bad.  She just let me cry and talk a little more until I had calmed down.  She gave me another quick hug before heading off with her family.

Just as soon as the tears stopped, though, they would come back.  I must have been a strange sight – a lady sitting there crying while her two kids ate dinner.  Once I calmed down enough to get the tears to actually stop, another woman came up to me.  She simply stated she had seen me crying and asked if there was anything she and her husband could do to help.  I gave a brief explanation and stated I was ok, but thanked her for her concern.

Give Help Not Hurt

When this situation happened, I remember thinking I was on a surprise What Would You Do episode.  But it was real.  I’ve since thought a lot about it.  In particular, I’ve thought about how I saw two very different sides of people.

People can be judgmental, ornery, and sometimes flat out rude.  People can also be kind, considerate, and caring.  Take, for example, those who may take a long time at the grocery store  checkout.  Some people will get upset and yell at them to “Hurry up.”  Other people will ask if there is anything they can do to help.

You never know what someone is going through.  I think of a story told by Dr. Stephen Covey.  A man with unruly children walked onto the subway, and the peace that had been there before was gone.  Dr. Covey asked the man kindly if he could do something about his children.  The man softly responded that their mother had just passed away and the family didn’t know how to handle it.  Dr. Covey then asked what he could do to help.

We can choose how we respond to people and to situations.  We can choose to be judgmental or we can choose to be helpful.  One woman offered her opinion, and all it did was hurt me.  Two women offered their love and support, and it helped me heal.  Take the time to offer love and support to your fellow human beings.  You never know how much it will mean to someone.

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