Last Tuesday was one of ‘those’ days; the ones where you feel like everything is too hard and you’re failing spectacularly at everything you do. I was tired and cranky and everything I did just felt overwhelming and too damn hard. It didn’t bode well that I was having such a rotten day and only 1/3 of my children were at home with me (the loudest and most demanding 2/3 were at camp).
I headed to IKEA for the fourth time in seven days. I love IKEA but not enough for four trips in seven days. I didn’t want to be there but I had to be there and I was there an hour later than planned after a gong show of an unproductive morning.
With baby duck strapped to my chest and a bag on my back I proceeded to unload the stack of items I needed to return (that silliness gets a post of its own tomorrow). I had nine items to return, no bag, and six of the 9 items were in unsealed packages. One slid out of the package. I dropped another. I was already sweating and feeling ‘woe is me’ and I hadn’t even closed my van door.
A voice rang out from in front of me “Here let me help” and a woman rushed over to retrieve the fallen item that I’d just picked up. I thanked her profusely for her offer to help. Thirty seconds later I dropped another package and was tempted to leave it there and drive home. This time another woman stopped. She was with her mom (MIL?) and toddler and picked up the fallen item for me. Then she offered me her empty IKEA bag. I refused but she insisted she didn’t need it and that I should take it.
It was just a blue bag but she might as well have thrown me a life raft or a $100,000 cheque.
I enjoyed a peaceful lunch with baby duck fast asleep under my chin. Two older women stopped to admire my baby boy and chat for a moment.
I returned the items without incident and managed to get the remaining items on my list. The day was feeling decidedly less bleak.
While loading furniture onto my cart in the warehouse I was stopped by yet another woman. “Please let me get that for you!” she insisted, referring to the box I was about to load. “I’m ok, really” but she reminded me that we’ve all been there and proceeded to load the large box into my shopping cart.
I wish I had their names. I hope they appreciated the genuineness of my ‘thank you’s’ because their random acts of kindness salvaged what was feeling like a very bleak day. If you were at IKEA on July 17th in Ottawa and you offered to help a harried looking mom with a baby in a carrier on her chest (around 11:30 am) that was me and I can’t thank you enough.
If you’ve stopped me at the pool or the grocery store to admire my baby and my boys or to exclaim ‘three boys, oh my, bless you dear” I want to thank you too. You remind me that I have adorable children. That mothering all three is hard work. That even though they don’t always appreciate their mom other people recognize the hard work I’m doing. That even when I feel overwhelmed and like I’m a a crap mom that I’m not alone because there’s a safety net of moms out there willing to lend a hand or offer a kind word.
It was the perfect reminder that I too have plenty of kind words, spare baby wipes, and extra bags to share with perfect strangers in hopes of paying Tuesday’s kindness forward.