To the woman who helped me carry the boxes in the Office Max parking lot today:
You didn't know my arms were shaky and tired because I had just been to the gym for the first time since my daughter was born, which meant that it was the first time I had left my baby who hasn't even been in this world for seven weeks with strangers so I could work out for an hour.
You didn't know that I had rushed all morning to get there in time to exercise before the nursery closed.
And you definitely didn't know I was embarrassed while I was working out about what I was wearing because none of my leggings and t-shirts fit well right now and that I had sweat stains under my arms from the stress of the morning that made me want to crawl under a rock every time I looked in the gym mirrors.
You couldn't have known that I left the diaper bag in the car on the way in so I had to go ask for my keys back from the front desk and run back out.
There's no way you could see on my face how flustered I felt during the whole work out, that I almost hurt myself jumping off of the assisted dip machine because I couldn't finish my last rep, or that I couldn't stop thinking about how weak and out of place I looked in the gym that used to be my "happy place."
You didn't know as you helped me halfway across the parking lot that the reason I was parked so far away was that I hadn't wanted to buckle my baby back into the car seat just to drive two rows over from the gym to Office Max. Or that I had stopped in the middle of the store to readjust her baby carrier because she was hanging sideways and felt in that moment like everyone must be staring at me and judging my "mom skills."
You didn't know I purchased the five large boxes because in a month my husband and I will be moving halfway across the country with our brand new little girl to a place I've never even seen, and I've GOT to start packing if we're ever going to show the house we've loved for the past three years to potential buyers.
And you didn't know that after you helped me I would go to the J.C. Penney across the street to buy some work out clothes that fit so maybe I wouldn't be as embarrassed next time and the cashier would tell me my baby was too young to be out of the house. And that I ask myself at least a hundred times a day, "Am I doing this right?"
Of course you didn't know any of those things. All you saw was a young mom who needed help and didn't look like she could make it a foot farther with those boxes and that tiny baby.
I wish you did know how prideful I am and that in that moment I may have let my shyness and disdain of being pitied hinder conveying to you how very appreciative I was of your help. I'm sure I told you thank you at least three times, but I don't think I communicated how grateful I really was that you saved me when I was stuck and not sure what to do. When I got in the car I beat myself up for putting myself in a position in which I needed the help of a stranger and for not knowing how to truly thank you.
However, as I sit here typing this post with fur balls under my furniture and in the corners of my house, hyper dogs who have been alone in their pen most of the day, and a sink full of dishes, I remember that my baby is happy (at least in this present moment) and healthy, there is a crockpot dinner ready to be eaten, and I managed to do most of the laundry today. And that I have found a new "happy place," and it's here with this perfect blue-eyed baby.
So to you, kind stranger, I say THANK YOU. You showed me God's grace today, and I hope I remember to pay it forward the first time an opportunity presents itself. I don't know if you will ever even think about those few minutes ever again, but I may never forget them. I wish I knew more about you and if you have children or grandchildren - if you do they are lucky to have you.
And to my fellow new mommas out there, don't be afraid to accept help when it is offered. We know we're supposed to help others when we can, but sometimes it's so hard to feel like "the least of these" ourselves. Choose to rest assured that an opportunity will present itself for you to continue the chain of love. Celebrate the little victories, not the litany of small failures you play over and over again in your head (hopefully reading my silly self doubts will help you to realize yours are silly, too). You're doing great. Just the fact that you're worried about how you're doing means you're one good momma.