“Tomorrow will be another day just like today if you let it. And like a flash of light, one day, we finally realize there’s not many tomorrow’s left.”
My last Sunday morning was spent grocery shopping at my least favorite retail super-store. I took the two oldest kids with me while my husband stayed with the baby, who wasn’t feeling well. The kids were being very helpful. Not arguing with each other, checking things off the list, and pushing the cart. I was feeling grateful for the peaceful experience.
We came to a stop in the baking aisle while a woman in an electric cart was picking food off the shelf. She seemed to have a question about a product because an employee and another customer appeared to be assisting her. Directly across from her was one of those food racks employees use to stock the shelves. So there was no way through or around her.
There were customers behind me so I decided instead of turning around, I would use it as a lesson in patience for my children. I smiled, to not make her feel rushed, and pretended to look at things on the shelf next to me.
Behind me, I sensed that someone was not willing to be so patient. Ironically, it was another customer in an electric cart. He was an elderly man, and after his ten-second window of patience had lapsed, he promptly proceeded to cut in front of me and ram the food rack with his electric cart.
You read that right. He rammed the food rack with his electric cart.
But three times he rammed the food rack, backed up, and rammed it again. The lady in the electric cart hurried out of his way, and while we all stared at this angry old man in disbelief, he grumbled, “You’re blocking the aisle!” and drove away.
My kids were wide-eyed and baffled.
When we reached the next aisle they said to me, “Mom, why would he do that?” To which I replied, “Because he’s probably a sad, grumpy, and lonely person. He might not have anyone to talk to at home. Sometimes when we feel bad, we take it out on other people.”
This was maybe their first or one of very few experiences where someone was blatantly disrespectful, and while I wanted them to understand his reaction was wrong, I also wanted them to have compassion for him. We should never act the way he did, but when people do act that way, I think it’s important for kids to understand it comes from sadness and manifests as anger.
Fast forward to later in the afternoon. My day is bananas, as usual.
The baby is still not feeling well. She’s running a fever and won’t eat over an ounce of formula per feeding. She hates the Tylenol, gags every time we give it to her, and the fever keeps coming back. I’m pretty sure she’s fine and it’s some kind of virus that needs time to pass. But it’s been 7 years since I had a baby and her not eating much has me concerned enough that I decide to take her to the ER that evening.
I go alone because my husband has to stay with the older kids. We get checked in and are patiently waiting to be called back. The room is really warm and she’s not happy sitting in the car seat so I play with her on my lap.
I’m feeling exhausted from worrying about her being sick and trying to keep things together at home.
I know there are probably 20 things I need to do that I haven’t done.
I’m feeling sad and run down and wondering how I’m ever going to make it through Monday. It’s late and I’m sure I’ll only get 4-5 hours of sleep.
I’m feeling guilty for having to take her to grandma’s house so I can go to work tomorrow. I’m not the stay-at-home type but I hate leaving them when they are sick.
I’m reflecting on the old man and feeling sad that he’s probably so alone and angry (I know, I’m ridiculous). I also find myself relating to him. I have never acted so mean in public, but there have been situations where I lost my patience and sure feel like it showing it.
I’m also pretty sure if I have to carry this car seat any further, my arm is going to fall off. Why don’t nurses offer to carry them for us?
So, while I’m sitting there, feeling sorry for myself and trying to smile for my baby, a sweet little girl, maybe 4 years old, comes out of the ER with her dad.
I don’t believe she was sick, just there with family.
As they paused in the lobby a moment, waiting for another family member, she confidently walked up behind me, smiled, and exclaimed, “You have a baby!”
“Yes, I do!” I smiled big. I love kids who aren’t afraid to start conversations. Adults, not so much.
She scrunched up her little nose, lowered her eyebrows and said, “Is it a girl or a boy baby?”
“It’s a girl baby. She likes you!”
She raised her eyebrows. “Oh, I can tell it’s a girl baby because she has bows and Mini Mouse on her shirt! She’s a pretty girl baby. Daddy, look at the baby!” Her dad wasn’t amused. I could tell she didn’t get her enthusiasm and lack of shyness from him.
“That’s right. She’s smiling at you!” I said. And she was. She usually doesn’t smile at strangers.
Then, with a big smile, the little girl held out her hand to touch my daughter’s tiny hand (much to her father’s dismay), looked at me and said matter-of-factly, “Don’t worry. Your baby be okay.”
It was as if the Universe put on the face of a sweet little girl to let me know my baby was going to be fine, and so was I.
“Oh, thank you so much. That is so nice for you to say.” And I really was grateful. It felt like a true confirmation. The Universe was signaling me to calm down and check myself before I spiraled out of emotional control.
I experienced two very different types of people that Sunday. The cranky old man in the cart, and the sweet little girl who just wanted a closer look at my baby.
I think most of us start out in life like that sweet little girl. The old man was once a sweet little boy… right? But then… life happens. Death, financial problems, abuse, addictions, crappy jobs, and toxic relationships can alter who we are. Finally, one day, you find yourself ramming your way through the grocery aisle just to get what you want sooner and with no regard for anyone else’s emotions.
Okay, maybe not in that exact scenario, but you get where I’m going with this. You’re yelling at your spouse or kids when they don’t deserve it. You’re getting bent out of shape over some mo-ron who doesn’t use his turn signal. You’re irrationally pissed at the incompetent teenagers running the drive-thru window at your favorite fast-food place. I get it. I’m guilty as charged.
But I think we have a choice. We can do our best to heal the hurt life has caused and try to stay as sweet, kind, and innocent as we once were, or, we can allow our bad experiences to poison our attitude about life.
We can walk around this world with a smile and curiosity, or we can be angry and force our way through this journey without joy because we’re just so busy rolling around in our negativity.
If we choose the latter, I’m just not sure what the point is. Tomorrow will be another day just like today if you let it. And like a flash of light, one day, we finally realize there’s not many tomorrow’s left.
That’s all I’m trying to say. We don’t have as many tomorrows as we think we do. And that’s the real reason I started The Wiser Life, to heal myself and to inspire others who want to heal with me so that our tomorrow can be better.
Who are you going to be? Who do you want your children to be?
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