If you’re a mom, chances are you’ve balanced the household budget in your head more times a day than you’ve drank water. We’re always keeping track of what we’re spending and as a result, we sacrifice the things we want for the sake of our kids. We put ourselves last. Well, one man noticed a mom in Target doing just that and decided instead, he was going to put her first.
Erin Bennett of Virginia, a mom of four, shared the heartfelt story on her Facebook page in a post many of us can relate to. “To the man in line behind me at the Gainesville Target, who saw that after hitting my grocery budget limit I decided to put back my Pumpkin Spice candle and the makeup I had picked out,” she writes. “You didn’t know that I always save my stuff for last and usually end up putting it back.”
“You didn’t know that the two fussy kids I had with me, were only two out of four.”
(Her kids are nine, four, two, and six months old.)
“You didn’t know that I have postpartum depression from the youngest babe and that I use scent as a way to boost my mood.”
“You didn’t know that this week has been full of sick kids, parent teacher conferences, emergency dental visits and I was so looking forward to lighting that candle at nap time and just taking a minute to relax,” she writes.
“Even without knowing that, you saw me. You saw me as a human, not just the mom in front of you that was distracted and going way too slow.”
Bennett explains to Scary Mommy that she had the makeup and the candle resting on top of the small credit card scanning table at the register, separate from the other groceries. She told the cashier, “If I reach my budget at the end, I’m going to go ahead and put these back.”
If you live on a tight budget, or have previously, you’ve no doubt done this. The man behind Bennett overheard her and said, “I’m going to get it.” When Bennett refused his offer, he repeated, “No, I’m going to get it.” The man bought her items, including the pumpkin spice candle and refused to take “no” for an answer. When she started to cry from his kindness, he told her that she deserved it.
And she does deserve it. We all do. Raising young children is often draining and thankless work. Many times moms make these daily sacrifices, they get lost in a swirl of kiddie madness, and become kind of invisible.
“People see the kids, they see your kids spilling something, the mess, and they don’t always see the mom. See her as a human. They see the chaos going on around them,” Erin Bennett tells Scary Mommy.
“He wasn’t sitting there being annoyed that I was going slow, or mad because he had to wait while I used a gift card, two coupons, and my credit card,” she recounts. “He was just seeing me as a person, and it felt really nice. We’re in this together.”
Not only did this stranger step up and treat this mom kindly, he didn’t need to know her story in order to do so. To one mother those scented candles may be trivial, but to Bennett, they’re more than candles. They help her decompress when she’s feeling the symptoms of her postpartum depression.
“I was diagnosed when my middle child was seven-months-old. I told my doctor I was running out of patience and I was anxious, they told me it was definitely postpartum depression,” she explains.
“When I’m with the kids we’ll count to four, raise our hands up, then count back down from four with our hands going down. If we don’t feel better, me or the kids, we do it again,” she says. “I make an effort to everyday, when my husband comes home, he takes over, and I take a shower. Oftentimes, I can’t leave the house and do something. So I take my time in the shower and have no noise stimulus for a while.”
Reaching out for help and accepting it when it comes your way may be the biggest take away from Bennett’s experience of kindness from a stranger. “Feeling unseen, whether by your spouse and your family, or rest of the world, is common. It’s important to know it’s not just you, whether everyone talks about it or not.”
And Bennet’s advice to moms?
“Moms, you’re worth it, do something for yourself, even if it as little as getting a shower every day because it’s your alone time, or going out for a run, to remind yourself that you are a person, that you’re not just so-and-so’s mom.”