Mum's Life

'It takes a village to raise a child': this story of solidarity with struggling mother will make you think

Mum-of-four, Jess Johnston, appreciated to solo trips to the supermarket. As any mum knows, sometimes the diary aisle could be the only peace you can get before bedtime rolls around. 

So when she spotted a mother with two screaming children in the checkout aisle, she could definitely relate. 

Seeing the mother, Johnston desperately wanted to reassure her, especially since it was not too long ago that she was there herself.

But what happened next, really stuck with her: 

"Before I could process what my awesome, pro-mom, non-judgey response was going to be the mom turned to me with desperate eyes, “I'm sorry, um, can you hold her?” She held out her crying infant towards me." 

Johnston quickly took the newborn, only four weeks old, into her arms:

“I bounced her gently and put her pacifier back in her mouth, feeling such an intense solidarity with this mama." 

The exchange made Johnston think about her own experience shopping with screaming children:

"I have been the woman in the checkout line more times than I can count. I’ve stood sweating in this woman’s exact position, barely commanding the tears to wait until I got to my car. I’ve felt my face grow red and hot as my toddler screamed and kicked, waking up my baby who was angry and ready to nurse. I’ve felt so alone and so out of control." 

But in helping the fellow mother, Johnston realised how important it was to ask for help in stressful moments: 

"This mama was brave. She let her guard down and because of that, gave me a gift. She redeemed a thousand of my own frantic check-out moments by letting me be a part of hers. She let me join her village and reminded me that I’m not alone." 

Helping a fellow mother made her realise that at no matter what stage in life you are, there is always someone to help: 

"We really are a part of a village, a part of something much bigger than just ourselves and there are women all around us who simply get it.

Chance brought me one of my people, a sister I just hadn't met yet. She is one of the ones in the ring with me, doing messy, but beautiful work. We are both knee deep in motherhood and for a moment our stories crossed and I am grateful." 

Johnston concludes that she hope the mother felt supported:

"To me she was beautiful and valiant, a mother holding everything together by a thread. I don’t know how she felt. I don’t know if she felt small, or if she felt tired. I don’t know if she felt undone or defeated…but I hope she felt supported.

I hope that in that moment she did not feel alone.

No judgement. Just respect."

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