Every parent needs a teensy bit of time to themselves every now and then, and that's exactly what Jess Johnston, a mother of four, had in mind when she climbed into her car sans kids and headed to the place where she could truly be alone with her thoughts: Target. But sometimes the universe has something else in store no matter how carefully you plan, and that was the case when Jess stumbled upon a mom who was struggling with her three kids in the checkout line that afternoon. She recounted why it's important to stand in solidarity with other moms in her blog, Wonderoak.
"I am not used to being the one who is not the parent of the screaming child. This was uncharted territory," she wrote. "I identified with her painfully and I wanted desperately to affirm her. I wasn't sure what to do except smile and look as nonjudgmental as possible. I tried to think of what I could say, like, should I shout above the screaming, 'YOU'RE AMAZING!!' Or should I go in for a fist bump, 'You got this!!'"
Fortunately for Jess, she got her chance to help the struggling mama out and wasted no time jumping at the chance. "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. 'YES!' I said eagerly. As I took her precious one in my arms, the little girl made eye contact and then wailed. I bounced her gently and put her pacifier back in her mouth, feeling such an intense solidarity with this mama."
Jess went on to explain that she's lost count of exactly how many times she's felt helpless in similar situations — after all, having one crying kiddo in public is hard enough — and sometimes you just need an extra set of hands. "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," she said. "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."
Jess explained to POPSUGAR that when push came to shove, helping her fellow mom out was actually a "healing" experience for her. "There is something about moms helping moms and being a part of a village that is so powerful to me. She trusted me even though I was a stranger, and that was a gift."