Women are strong. Women often like to think they can do everything on their own. And probably, we could, but maybe while also sweating, swearing under our breath, and holding off an army of children and dogs in the process. So instead, we embrace the help of the other strong women and mothers around us. These are the women we need — and often don’t even know! I talked to several moms when mulling over the post, and many had a story to share right off the top of their head. The stories seemed to easily fit into one of two categories: (1) stories of friends who helped them, and (2) most often, stories of strangers who stepped up to really fill a need.
My story took place at the grocery store. I heard my daughter call my name. I turned to look, and she had thrown up all down her clothes as well as on the floor of the store. Another woman was walking by and immediately took charge of the situation—giving me the opportunity to take my daughter to the bathroom to clean up. She sent someone to get cleaning supplies and stood by the vomit to make sure no one fell in it. I could not have appreciated her more in that moment because it gave me freedom to focus on taking care of my little one and getting her home.
Christie was feeding a friend’s new baby for her while she got her older son ready for baseball. At that moment, another woman arrived to take the boys to practice. In the middle of all the rushing around, Christie hadn’t realized that part of a peanut butter sandwich was on the table. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw her own son—who has a severe peanut allergy—heading toward the sandwich. As soon as she realized it was peanut butter, she yelled out, torn between needing to keep the newborn she was holding safe and saving her own child! Thankfully, the other woman (a stranger to Christie) saw the panic, grabbed the sandwich from her son, and threw it across the room. She immediately saw the severity of the situation in the expression on Christie’s face and took the little guy to the sink to wash his hands and face. Parents who don’t have children with food allergies often don’t understand the sense of emergency when that child is exposed; in this case the woman didn’t question, but instead just reacted exactly as that little boy and his momma needed her to do.
Meg recalled the time a woman offered to hold her baby in the bathroom at a restaurant so she could wash her hands, and another time that a fellow mom offered to open her toddler’s chocolate milk for him because he was melting down in the middle of a Starbucks and her hands were too full with his baby sister to even try. She also recounted the day she was feeling like a giant parenting failure (who hasn’t been there?!) and a stranger stopped her to tell her she was doing a great job. Sure that brought tears to her eyes, but those were tears born of feeling support and joy.
Jenna shares a time when she took her oldest to register for kindergarten. She assumed it would be a quick in and out stop but quickly realized that it was going to take much longer than originally planned. Her youngest had lost all patience; the woman in line behind her suggested giving him a snack, but all she had on her were some stale goldfish she found in the bottom of the stroller. (Raise your hand if you’ve been there!) Bracing herself for judgement from the other mom, she was happily surprised when she opened her purse and pulled out a baggie of fresh apples and offered them to her. Her son took an apple in each hand and was happy the rest of the time! Jenna felt so supported and she so appreciated that small gesture that made her entire morning much easier.
Rachel’s new friend from her mom’s club didn’t think twice about leaving her son with his grandparents to come to Rachel’s aid when she and her child had been in a car accident. She rushed right over to pick up Rachel’s son. This was so touching to her since they’d just met. What a great friend!
Recently, Jordan was at the grocery store, and her two year old was not in the mood to be there. She screamed through the whole store. Jordan affectionately described her as “that kid—the one who could be heard five aisles away.” Upon arrival at the checkout counter, the manager knew some help might be needed. So that Jordan could check out in peace, the manager entertained her daughter and said she’d been there many times before with her own children. Jordan left having been complimented for the great job she was doing and felt recharged instead of defeated.
Mandy was at Disney World with her 2 year old, walking through A Bug’s Life. Thankfully, there was only one way in and one way out because in the blink of an eye, her little girl had vanished. She and her wife began yelling for her and looking everywhere they could, but she didn’t reappear. A mom standing nearby asked what their daughter was wearing, then immediately recruited her own two children to join the search. She gave them a physical description, and everyone split up. In 30 seconds, she’d been found, and Mandy and her wife were overjoyed and beyond thankful. This woman, a stranger to them, reassured them that moms have to stick together and help each other out, and that she had been happy to step up to the plate.
Natalie’s story had a happy ending—but could have ended up in such a terrifying way. She was 9 months pregnant and was leaving the doctor’s office with her 3 year old son when she fell in the parking lot. Two women immediately ran up to her to help. Once she realized what had happened, she became very upset and started crying (as I’d imagine any of us would). One woman picked up her son (who had also fallen) and kept him calm while the other flagged down a member of the hospital staff to get a wheelchair and have her checked out. Natalie and baby girl were fine, but without the help of those women, she would have been left in a very vulnerable situation.
Michelle recalled a time that she had just said goodbye to her husband for a long deployment; later that morning, she dropped her son at a Vacation Bible School. In that moment, the reality of months without her husband hit her. Another mother saw the sadness on her face, and immediately wrote her phone number down and said she’d help anytime. While Michelle didn’t know that woman, that show of support was exactly what she needed in the moment.