Shopping Alone

empty nest full heart

I saw her trying to shop.  She shared her eyes with the stack of childrens clothes on the table at Costco and her two little kids strapped in the cart.  Back and forth she went, table to cart…trying to appease the tiny people all while searching for a great deal.  Then, I heard her voice change.  I recognized it.  It was the "Mom" voice.  Her little team was getting antsy and by the looks of her cart, she hadn't been there very long.

I listened in, not to invade her space or be nosey but to see her be the mom God called her to be.  She spoke with firmness and love all wrapped together but I could tell she was stressed.  I didn't mean for it to happen but a flash of memories clicked away inside my head.  Memories of three little me's hanging onto and riding in my cart: a handsome boy wearing a ball cap, a bouncy curly blonde wearing something pink and a wild-haired baby with some sort of food in hand.  I let the memories flow as I walked away thinking of how weird it would be for me to say anything to this young mama.

Who wants to hear a stranger tell them to enjoy every minute of this hurried, noisy and messy time?

I saw her again in the parking lot.  She was leaving as I was returning my cart.  God placed me in her path because He knew…..I needed to hear her praising her children on their good behavior!  She used her mom love sword to build them up.  Her enthusiasm didn't go to waste, both of them were beaming!

I thanked God for letting me have a peek into this young mom's heart.  I've been there when shopping was an adventure but you still had to do it with monkeys in tow.  I've used my mom love sword to pursuade little people to hang on and be patient just to get through the store.  I've made deals, threatened punishment and handed out bribes (hey, I'm not proud) so that groceries could be bought.

And now…..I'm shopping all alone.

What happens while our kids are little is that we think they'll never get big.  We somehow see the days as endless and exhausting (and they are).  God in his infinite wisdom doesn't let us see the empty nest.  Oh, we know it will happen and many of us tease about the excitement of it coming.  But the names God stamps onto the heart of mothers….is deep.  The love she feels for them when they're chewing on the cart handle quadruples when they don't sleep under her roof anymore and pay (most) of their own bills.  She sees the fruit of her labor and she falls more in love than she ever knew she could.

If I could say anything to a young mother….it would be, live it & feel it.  Every single bit of it.  It's fleeting.  It ends.  It goes away and doesn't return ever again.  Your tired days & sleepless nights….are very long when your kids are small and get even longer when they sleep somewhere else.  You think about them and your heart swells…..its just how God wired us.

So, for those struggling to be nice at the store because you're tired.  Hang on.  You'll be pushing that cart alone before you know it.


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