Help From a Stranger

At the time of this story, I was a brand new mom to my first son, Lincoln. Like many first time moms, I had no idea what I was doing and needed help more than I realized.

Lincoln was only about four weeks old when I needed to make a trip to the grocery store. It was going to be a quick trip – get in, get groceries, and get out! I assumed that he would sleep the entire time and that everything would be fine. I loaded him up in the car seat and made it to the grocery store. I found one of those shopping carts with the car seat attachments and secured his car seat.

At this point, he was asleep. Except for not being able to see over the car seat while pushing the shopping cart, everything was going smoothly. I strolled the isles of the grocery store while quietly placing items in my cart, making sure not to wake him. I had gotten the things on my list and headed for the check outline.

I had two choices: I could do the self-checkout that no one was at or wait in line for a checker. I picked the self check out and made my way there, right in time for Lincoln to start to wake up. As I began to the self-checkout process, he began to fuss. I bounced between trying to hush him and scanning my groceries. I felt so much pressure to get my groceries scanned so that we could get out of there before he let loose.

At the time, it felt like everyone in the store was staring at me, and with each second that passed, Lincoln’s cries got louder and louder. He refused a pacifier since day one, so I didn’t have any quick way to soothe him. I continued to bounce between scanning and bagging items and unsuccessfully trying to comfort Lincoln, who was still in the car seat, wailing at this point. I, too, wanted to start crying.

I was still very emotional and hormonal from all that comes with becoming a new mom, not to mention running off only a few hours of sleep. And then, out of nowhere, a stranger appeared.

This stranger, a lady probably in her late 30’s, came over to us, and with the most calming spirit about her, started to pat Lincoln’s car seat to hush him gently. It worked! He quieted down long enough to refocus and get the rest of my groceries bagged and paid.

Honestly, at that moment, I was feeling so many emotions. I felt stress just from the crying baby and rush to get out of there, but I also had some mixed feelings about a stranger coming within proximity to my newborn. I had never been an overprotective person, but that changed once I became a mom, and I had a protective urge to kick in.

But on the other hand, I was also extremely grateful that someone was helping me at this moment. I realized that I needed help and that it was safe to accept it. Once the register spits out the receipt, I couldn’t grab it fast enough. I grabbed my shopping cart and sped off to my car.

I was so flustered that I don’t even know if I said thank you to the stranger, who helped me out more than she probably realized. After loading the groceries into the car and securing the car seat, I headed for home and cried the entire way: too many emotions, too many hormones, not enough sleep, and still a crying, hungry baby.

Three years and another baby later, I’ve learned tricks to help minimize situations like this one. For me, motherhood is a constant learning experience, and sometimes to learn something, you have to at first fail.

Hopefully, there will be someone along the way, who sees you, hears you (or maybe hears your screaming baby), and is willing to help you. Accepting help isn’t always easy or natural, and sometimes it’s not even possible. But I sure was thankful for that stranger in the grocery store that day, who didn’t have to help me but did.