My toddler son, preschool daughter, and I finished a stressful grocery shopping experience. I thought I had caught the mid-morning window of optimal excursions with two small children. Yet, I observed my son’s underneath-the-surface crankiness. While riding in the grocery cart, he vacillated among excitement, agitation, and fear. His mind seemed to whir in one place, his heart another, and his body in a whole other realm. I focused on gathering essential items. I managed to move quickly through the check-out counter and safely out of the store. I loaded bags into the cargo area, and got both children buckled into their respective car seats.
While driving, I offered my son the soy milk he had chosen at the store. He screamed, “I didn’t want that one!”
This final spark ignited his full-blown screaming tantrum. His shoes, one at a time, came sailing by my head. His sister started shouting about how her brother was hurting her body. I, now, wanted to slug my son as my face flushed.
“Stop hurting your sister!” I shouted. I began shaking so badly that I knew I needed to stop the vehicle.
I pulled into a neighborhood and parked the minivan on an unfamiliar street. I got out and lifted my son out of his car seat. I placed him on the grassy area near the sidewalk as he continued to scream, flail, and cry. I marched around the vehicle to both keep myself from hurting my son and to calm down. I might have said, “F*&^!” a few times toward the ground. My daughter remained silent, wide-eyed in her booster seat. I became terrified that the neighbors would call children protective services and police would show up to take me away from my children. I became so scared that neighbors would think I was beating my son because he screamed and cried very loudly. I took deep breaths and kept marching. I knew I needed to shift into a calmer state.
Seemingly from nowhere, a man dressed head to toe in white painter’s clothing appeared and knelt in front of my son. He began speaking gently and softly to my son, “Hey, there, I see you are all worked up. You are okay. It’s okay. You’re having a rough go. It’s okay, little one.”
The man’s calm, loving presence startled and softened my son into hiccupping and sniffling. My son stared with wonder at the man with a warm smiling face and tender eyes.
Once the man knew my son had fully calmed down, the man stood up, looked at me, and said, “Parenting is the most difficult job in the world. I know you are a loving mom.”
My eyes puddled with tears. I simultaneously felt shame mixed with complete gratitude. My voice to thank him for his unexpected kindness disappeared. Then I realized he had disappeared, too. Had I looked down at my son and into the vehicle at my daughter? Did he evaporate into thin air when I glanced at my children? I scooped up my son and kissed his cheek. He snuggled his head into my neck and shoulder. I walked a few steps in one direction and the other, looked around my vehicle, and down the street. The kind stranger in white painter’s clothes was nowhere to be found.
I will forever be grateful for this man, an earth angel, and his unexpected, exceptionally generous act of grace and kindness. Parenting is the most difficult and beautiful job in the world. Kindness matters.
The founder of Cherish Your World, Laura Staley passionately supports people thriving by guiding them to a holistic transformation of space, heart, and life. Laura is the published author of four books including Live Inspired which reveals the brave and deep work of self-discovery and her new book of short writings and poetry Abundant Heart: Thoughts on Healing, Loving, and Living Free where with her characteristic grace and candor, Laura shares thoughtful-sometimes comical reflections on healing, loving and living free as inspirational pathways for experiencing a soul-centered, fulfilled life.