The Rescue

{photo via}

So, there was this one time, nearly 2 years ago…

It was shortly after this incident,
and I had reached a breaking point in my life as a fairly new mom.
One of those days where nothing went as planned,
where I felt like I would meltdown at any moment if I didn’t get away,
if I didn’t have some time alone,
for just a little bit.
Because you’re kidding yourself,
and you’re making the rest of us feel like crud
if you claim to be one of those Mom’s who wants to be around her child 24 hours a day, 7 days a week…
One of those Mom’s who never needs a little time to regroup—even if it’s just for 15 minutes.

Ben got home, took one look at the expression on my face and said:
Get out. Take some time. I’ve got this. Do whatever you need to do.

My eyes filled with tears as I gave him a nod of agreement and rushed to the shower.
I was determined to not smell like baby food on this rare afternoon to myself.

I decided I would go to the mall.
Walk around, veg out, grab a bite to eat and maybe even get a new pair of shoes.
I took the husbands freshly washed car.
Not my Mom-car, with cheerios and goldfish crackers mashed in the carpet,
juice splatters on the door handles and the faint smell of sour milk.
My hair was blow dried and straightened and I was even wearing a pair of platform heels.
This was just what I needed.

I was feeling good. Positive even.
A far cry from my mental state of just a few hours earlier.
I smiled as I pulled into a prime parking spot right next to the front entrance.
I sat in the car for a moment so I could finish belting out the words to Taylor Swifts song, Teardrops on My Guitar.

As I sang the final lines, I watched from the rearview mirror as a woman awkwardly manuevered a young boy in one hand while pushing her double stroller with the other, to the mini-van parked next to me. The boy was fighting to break free of her grasp, while a young baby screamed at the top of his lungs and a toddler age girl wiped the snot from her nose with the back of her arm.

I couldn’t help but sympathize as I noted that this Mom’s disheveled appearance was all too familiar of my own only a few hours earlier.

As she struggled to load her whining kids into the van,
I got out and walked to the side of my car closest to hers to retrieve my purse from the backseat.
I pulled down my sunglasses, and threw my purse over my shoulder—more excited than I should have been that I wasn’t carrying a diaper bag.

And that’s when I heard it.
Word’s I have chosen not to repeat, ever.
Let’s just say it started with the word “stupid” and ended with a long string of bad words,
ending with the horrendous “c” word—the word you never ever call another female.

My heart hit the floor as I looked up to see this lady glaring me right in the eyes.
I pulled my glasses off.
Me: Are you talking to me?
I said with legitimate confusion.

Lady:  You bet I am. You disgust me. Did you think you would get away with it?
Me: Get away with what exactly?
Lady: I just watched you hit my car with your door!

She was off her rocker.
I wasn’t even close to her car.
And if I was, there was no way she could have noticed over her screaming children.

I felt my heart begin to beat in my face.
I wanted to scream back at her.
Give her a piece of my mind.
Point out aggressively that I in no way deserved how she was treating me.
Who did she think she was?

Me: Excuuuse me, but I didn’t even come close to your car. Come see for yourself.
Lady: I don’t need to come see for myself. I know what I saw you stupid “b”.
(except she used the whole word).

My insides were raging now and my face started to get hot.
My voice quivered as I practically shouted at her with disgust.
Me: Really great example you’re setting for your children. You should be proud.

Right when the words came out of my mouth,
I could feel them cut her like a knife.
As I turned to walk away, I couldn’t help but notice the tears well up in her daughters eyes.
I began to feel sick to my stomach.

This lady looked like she was going to punch me in the face at any moment.
But all I could do was stare into her daughters tear-filled eyes.
And that’s when I lost it.
That’s when I cried.

Not because of the words she had used or the terrible things she had called me.
But because in that moment, in hit me what was really going on here.
Because right then, as I looked at her glaring back at me, I could feel this Mom’s pain.
She was at her breaking point,
and I just happened to walk by when she broke.

I wanted to rescue her.
I wanted to take back the horrible words I had just said,
I wanted to apologize for questioning her strength as a Mom.
I wanted to take her away from this place.
Give her a moment alone,
for some perspective.
The same way Ben had rescued me earlier.
She needed rescuing and I had a feeling there wasn’t someone in her life coming to whisk her away.

This lady had no idea I was a Mom too.
For all she knew, I was some spoiled young gal headed to the mall to use my Daddy’s credit card.
Because for one rare moment, I wasn’t covered in spit up with greasy hair and sporting my usual yoga pants.
In this moment, I was the girl that it was easy to hate.
I had been this girl before.
The girl, who at first glance, looked like she had it all together.
I wanted this woman to know that wasn’t true.

As the tears streamed down my cheeks I sputtered out the words,
I’m a Mom too, you know. 

The look of fury dissolved from her face and was replaced with a look of confusion.
She was silent.

I kept crying.
Me: And just the other day my son looked me in the eyes and threw my new iPhone in the toilet.  Most days I’m convinced that I’m doing a terrible job as his Mother.

She kept staring at me,
still silent.

It felt like nearly an eternity before she finally spoke.

Lady: My Dad just died. I came here to get an outfit for his funeral—the funeral I still need to plan.  And my Mom is on her death bed.  I’m all she has, and there’s not enough of me to go around.

And then she started to cry too.
Uncontrollable sobs.

I quickly helped her three kids into the car so they wouldn’t have to watch her fall apart,
then I turned to the lady with a smile on my face,
and we hugged.
And cried some more.

She sobbed as she whispered the words “I’m sorry” into my ear.
Me: I know. Me too.

I wiped my eyes and gave her little girl a soft smile through the vans side window where she was pressing her face against the glass.
After at least a minute, we pulled away from our hug with a bit of a giggle as I’m sure we both wondered how it had escalated to this moment.

Lady: I’m not usually like this. I’m not this harsh. I’m really a nice person, I promise.
Me: And you’re a good Mom too. I’m so sorry I said those words to you in front of your children. Please forgive me.

We nodded silently at one another.
A nod of forgiveness.
A nod of common ground.
A nod of gratitude for the moment we had just shared.
A nod that said, I can relate to how you’re feeling and I wish I could take away the pain.

I gave her my phone number and asked her to please call me if there was ever anything I could do to help.
Meals, funeral arrangements, babysitting.
I knew she wouldn’t accept help from this stranger she had just berated in the parking lot,
but I wanted her to leave at least knowing that there was someone out there thinking of her.
Someone who wanted to help.
Someone who would rescue her if she could.

Even though I never learned her name,
I think about this Mom often.
Wonder where she is,
how she’s doing,
how she coped with the pressures life was placing on her…
and whether the moment we shared enters her mind as often as it does mine.

You see, that moment we shared taught me valuable life lessons.
Lessons on judgement,
on forgiveness,
on compassion,
and charity.

And to think, I almost turned and walked away.

Ashley Stock
I'm Ashley. Sometimes I craft, occasionally I cook, everyday I write, and I'm always Momma. This is my blog. I keep it real while still seeing the rainbows and butterflies in all of life's lessons.
Ashley Stock
Ashley Stock
Ashley Stock

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Comments

  1. as mothers, we do all hit that melting point. mine’s about 4pm every day.

    so much to be said for the rudeness and kindness of strangers…

  2. Oh sheesh, now I’m a crying mess! What a beautiful heart you have Ashley. I love that even in your “escape” you could be a source of strength and understanding to someone who was at their breaking point. Beautiful.

  3. Oh wow… this was really, really great to read! It’s SO easy to keep to ourselves, walk away, get jealous, and all of those things. And it is SO good to be reassured that we are not in this as Moms alone. When we put aside all of the little things, we are all just trying to do the best that we can for our kids, and some days it is much harder than other days.
    xo,
    Laurie @ Gallamore West
    p.s. Your new little guy is soooo cute!!

  4. I’m not a momma yet, but I know that breaking point well. You are such a good person ash, and heavenly father is so proud of you and your selfless actions! How wonderful that you were able to be there for someone else.

  5. I love this post. I always think about the saying “you never know what goes on behind closed door” in the sense that you truly never know what is going on in other peoples lives to make them act the way they do…there is usually a reason. Such a beautiful reminder to always be kind to others. It sounds like such an incredibly heartwarming moment and after reading I found myself curious about how she was doing and wishing she had contacted you.

  6. Wow. I am so touched by this post, I’m tearing up!!! GAH! What an amazing experience, and what an amazing example you are! To be kind and to realize something so profound, and to think of this woman and her children, in a moment when you could have just let her have it even more….that is such an example, Ashley, and truly an example of charity! I am so, so glad you shared this! It’s inspiring and so helpful. BAWL!
    Loved it!

  7. What a beautiful post 🙂

    It’s so true, you never know what’s going on behind closed doors…

    You set a great example to us all!

    Thank you for sharing 🙂

    Claire x

  8. The two of you crossed paths at exactly the right time. Amazing and full of hope, xoxo

  9. I have had something similar happen to me before and several of my mom friends as well. I believe we all just stared in stunned silence, not knowing how to respond. I am so happy to read of a happy ending to one of these confrontations. I consider myself a very compassionate person, but where is the compassion when the personal attack is on us? This is a wonderful example of compassion in action and a reminder that we never know what truly is going on in someone else’s life. Thank you (with tears in my eyes)…

  10. One of the most beautiful things I have read in a very long time!

  11. Goodness what a touching story. All moms know that breaking point so well, when we say something out of sheer frustration/exhaustion that we wish we could take back. So wonderful to hear how two women were able to look past that and bond…what a great story to start out my morning. 🙂

  12. What a beautiful, touching story. You set the tone for my whole day with this story. Thank you.

  13. Wow…what a beautiful post! Amazing how perspectives can change. Glad you took the time to help the woman who neede it so! You brought tears to my eyes.

  14. This was so amazing. It took a lot for you not to walk away, you should be really proud of yourself mama. You have such a beautiful heart.

  15. April Foss I Sew Lucky says:

    Great post Ashely! It made me cry. Love that you made a connection with her. I think I would have walked away. You are so sweet:))

  16. Ashley, I have become a distant admirer of yours after stumbling upon your blog on Pinterest. You’ve inspired me to start my own, to vent and discuss all my daily happenings as a young mom. This post is why I love reading yours so much. From one mom to another, you are amazing. I hope I’m doing as good as you!

  17. omg, you have me totally balling my eyes out. I can totally picture myself being either one of you ladies in the story. thank you for reminding me that we all have bad days and we should show compassion to those around us instead of letting the anger control us.

    the sweet life of a southern wife

  18. I am at the office trying not to cry so I don’t look crazy!! What a beautiful story. Being a mom is really hard, and I am definitely a mom who needs a break (quite frequently).

  19. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story. I often feel like I measure less of a mom when I do hit a breaking point. I feel I should be able to handle it all. The screaming. The crying. The defiant behavior my son chooses to show. I’ve broken down several times. It’s comforting to know there are other moms who feel this way too, at times. It makes me feel more normal.

  20. Wow. This is an amazing story. You did the the thing that is so difficult to do in the heat of the moment. That’s really impressive.

  21. Wow. Tears are streaming down my face. That is amazing because I know how I would have initially responded to her. Goes to show we all have our days.

  22. I have tears streaming down my face. Oh, the things we do when we are having a bad day as a mom!
    That situation ended beautifully. Glad you didn’t walk away…I’m sure just that short interaction made her feel a lot better!

  23. Beautiful beautiful. I am in awe… and inspired!

  24. We’ve all been that mom before. We’ve all had those meltdown moments. Unfortunately, in parenting there is no escape from them. I’m glad that you two, even if just temporarily were able to connect over the strange circumstances.

  25. Wow! I hope I can be that nice to someone when the situation calls…Inspiring story. Thanks for sharing 😉

  26. Aunt Debbie says:

    I am so proud of the woman, daughter, niece, wife, mother, friend, person you have become Ashley.
    You make me proud every day when I read your blog. Thank you for being the BEST you can be!!!
    Love that Ben too!!!

  27. This is amazing. Thanks for sharing =) Love your blog.

  28. Awhile ago, I had a lady go off on me because Chloe was crying while I was trying to get food at a hotel’s continental breakfast. I was also pregnant with Lilah. Yah that one ended with me bawling and getting McDonald’s drive-thru. Glad your story had a happier ending ;).

  29. This is such a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing. I love reading your blog so much. I always feel the desire to do better and be better after I read your posts. You are so awesome and I’m so glad that you share all of the things you learn in your journey of motherhood with all of us. 🙂

  30. You made your Momma cry this morning. Such a great reminder the being Kind can change someones whole day. Love you baby!

  31. That was an AMAZING post! I cried as I relived moments that I wish had gone differently – with me on both sides of this story! You are so right… compassion… so key. You never know what is going on with someone. Sometimes just a kind word changes the whole outlook on a day. Good for you for apologizing and opening up to her!!!

  32. This was a really touching story. If i weren’t at work, I’d be balling my eyes out right now. Funny how being a mom can sometimes bring out the worst in us, but it’s even more amazing how another mom or even moms everywhere can understand that.

  33. Ashley – I love your blog. You always pull be in and I can’t stop reading until I get to the end. What a powerful message. We all need to be just a little kinder than is necessary and thanks for this heartfelt story. Renee

  34. Friend, how are you even real? You tell the most amazing accounts of life and somehow in the end I ALWAYS end up loving you more than ever.
    Let me just tell you… you are doing it amazingly. Life that is. I wish I could have your elegance through struggle.
    Hopefully someday I can hug you and learn just how to live that way.

  35. oh ashley, what an amazing post. it really brings to light the fact that everyone is facing a battle and we should try to remember that when someone is not kind to us. what a blessing you must have been to that mama. i hope she’s doing okay.

  36. wow! This was beautifully written! What an inspiration this post is! I am going to remember what you have said when I have moments like this. You never know what someone else is going through. What an awesome message! THANK YOU!

  37. Thank you for being that person that listens to that voice that says do something. Thank you for sharing your experiences so that we can all learn and remember not to judge, that we aren’t walking in their shoes. YOU are AMAZING.

  38. You are such a good example to me, Ashley. I love how you were able to see the other lady’s heart and realize she was at her breaking point. You are such a Christlike example. I am sitting at my computer crying while reading this post. Although I am not a mom yet, I feel so many of your posts reach out to me right when I need them and remind me of important lessons. I love tender mercies!

  39. I just cried through that story, like it happened to me or something! haha, you’re such a great writer. I remember when that happened! xx so many good lessons there.

  40. i cried through this story too. i can relate, and since becoming a mom too, I am often reminded to leave my judgement behind me, because inevitably when I judge, i end up being judged for the exact same thing later on down the line. thank you for sharing that beautiful story!!!

  41. wow – just wow. Definitely blotting away wetness from my freshly done eyes this morning at work… what an amazing story. Had NO idea it would end how it did and I’m sooooo proud of you for having the vulnerable moment in front of her, because after that the whole situation to a quick turn around and there was mutual understanding from one mom to another. Seriously great story girl!

  42. What a great reminder to be slow to anger and quick to forgive! Great post!!!

  43. What a powerful experience…thank you so much for sharing this. This is definitely a life lesson I think we all can learn from….a reminder f to be more Christ-like–even in the the most difficult of situations. Isn’t it amazing how Heavenly Father allows us to have life changing experiences such as this to teach us in ways we never expected.

    I found your blog today via April Kennedy. So happy to have found it! 🙂

  44. Amazing. Absolutely amazing. Thank you so much for sharing.

  45. Wow… you always have such insight into life… I can’t believe you waited so long to share this story 🙂 I have definitely been there, on both ends of this picture… I have been so frazzled that I take my frustrations out on a waitress or a checker at the grocery store or whoever steps in my path… but that person isn’t who I really am; like the lady in your story, she is the result of an over-worked, under-slept, super-stressed mama who’s just trying to hold it together, and not doing a very good job at that! But I’ve also been the brunt of someone else’s anger or frustration… I can think of a few specific examples where I never got the opportunity to find out why the other person behaved the way they did, but if I could peek into their heads, I can probably bet you that they, too, are normally nice people. Normally kind and loving and giving – just having a bad day, or a stressful season of life, and I happened to be their breaking point at that particular time. Something I heard on KLOVE a few months ago has really stuck in my mind… I think it was a quote from a book but don’t quote me on that 😉 She said “if we could see where our enemy weeps, he would no longer be our enemy” … powerful, life-changing stuff if you really think about it! Thanks for always giving me something to think about! 🙂
    ~Jess

  46. Ashley I cannot tell you how much of an inspiration and even encouragement you’ve been to me; through your honesty and bravery, you just inspire me to be the very best version of myself too. I thought I would share this as I found it encouraging/comforting too… http://www.mynewday.tv/shows/empty-promises-part-1-of-3
    You are one beautiful lady inside and out! Brave-chika power haha!

  47. What a beatiful story. Still not sure what the “c” word is, will have to do some digging.

  48. Powerful. Thank you for sharing. (((hugs)))

  49. Absolutely Beautiful.

  50. I’ve read this post over and over again since you posted it months ago. I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate you writing it. You really never know what others are going through. I shared it on my facebook page today. I hope that others love it as much as I do.

  51. Amazing story… And you’re an amazing woman! Brought tears to my eyes. It’s hard to come by people with compassion these days, especially for strangers that just went off on them!

  52. lacey logan says:

    This is an amazing story, thank you for sharing Ashley. So touching, brought me to tears.

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