Dear woman in the store who grabbed my son:

You may have been brought up in a different generation, maybe brought up in a different household, or maybe you were just having a bad day, but when my five-year-old son was having a meltdown while we were trying to leave the store and you grabbed him and shouted at him that he should “be taught a lesson and listen to his mother…” you made matters worse for me, for him and possibly, for you too.

You see I rarely go out grocery shopping with all of my children—twin five-year-olds and a two-year-old—just the thought of it raises my blood pressure, so it took a lot for me to even get there. It took even more to:

  • follow my list;
  • make our way through the store without any major upsets;
  • try to instill lessons to my children on how to budget by following the list closely;
  • teach them how to choose healthy foods by loading up on fruits and veggies; and
  • try to be patient and move through obstacles without losing our temper (that lesson was for me).

And we did it, even though it took an hour and a half and three potty breaks, we made it through the checkout line and my kids had waited so patiently to spend their chore money on the little vending machine toys. We had finally made it to what their good behavior got them to—the row of metal machines that contained all kinds of stickers, super heroes, critters and creatures. There was also the “claw” game, where you take a gamble and try to grab a stuffed animal. My son chose to spend his 50 cents on the “claw” game, while the other two chose the vending machine toys. They chose the more reliable purchase, while he decided to take a gamble. I went ahead and let him, knowing his stuffed animal of choice would probably not be grabbed.

This was a perfect opportunity for a lesson in wise spending and disappointment that once the money is spent, it’s spent.

He, like I predicted, did not get the toy and he, like I predicted, had a meltdown when I told him he had no more quarters to try again. He saw his brother and sister playing with their purchases, while he stood there with nothing. He reacted externally the way we adults act internally when we spend money on something we probably shouldn’t have—in an epic tantrum. I was trying to empathize while also gathering my other children to make our way slowly through the door and you, lady at the store, came along.

You were in a hurry and didn’t see my tiny two-year-old following us out the door, slowing you down as you tried to hurry past us with your cart. You told me that I “should watch my children more closely and they are out of control.” I replied to you, politely over the screaming of my son, “She’s two. I have my hands quite full at the moment and you could go around us.” You did, you did go around us and you were on your way when you stopped in front of my cart. I thought maybe you were going to give me a word of encouragement, but instead you grabbed my crying son’s shoulders and stuck your finger in his face and yelled at him that he should “be taught a lesson and listen to his mother.” Not only is grabbing someone else’s child, a stranger’s at that, is not appropriate on so many levels, but, dear lady at the grocery store, what you didn’t see was that my son was learning a lesson—many lessons, in fact. He was learning that we don’t always get what we want, learning that it was OK to express disappointment, but screaming and throwing a fit was not going to make his mom give in, learning that sometimes it’s not fair that we don’t get the return we expect from something we worked hard and invested in, and he learned, thanks to you, that not all adults and strangers have learned their lessons yet.

We made it out of the store, and yes, I saw your glare from across the parking lot as I loaded my three children all under the age of six into the car by myself, as well as the now melty groceries. And I felt grace towards you, because believe me, I too, wanted to grab my son and tell him to knock it off, but I didn’t because I knew there were lessons to be learned—for me, for him and I pray, you will learn yours as well.


The tired, sweaty, out-of-breath single mom with three little kids

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Nicole Hastings

Nicole is a is a widowed mom to three children. With a background in journalism and a sudden need to “figure out what to do,” she turned to writing about her experience with a husband with cancer, caregiving and widowed parenting and overcoming the aloneness of all of the above. She believes the art of storytelling brings people out of the dark into the light together to share in joy, humor, suffering and pain in life. She hopes that by sharing her story with transparency and heart will bring others hope and empower them to share their own stories.
Facebook: @JustAMomNicoleHastings

This Is a Mom’s Brain in the Middle of the Night

In: Living, Motherhood
Woman looking at smartphone in the middle of the night

Dear husband, let me introduce you to your wife, insomnia edition. You see me not sleeping. You see me “playing” on my phone. Here’s what my brain is actually doing . . .  It’s 2 a.m., I wake up thinking, “I need to make an appointment” (it can be as mundane and stupid as a haircut or more importantly, a specialist appointment for one of the kids). I try to go back to sleep, promising myself I will remember. Lying there, I tell myself I won’t forget. I will remember, don’t worry. Fifteen minutes go by . . . On...

Keep Reading

Organized Sports Aren’t Everything

In: Kids, Motherhood
Young girl with Alpaca, color photo

Today I watched my little girl walk an alpaca. His name is Captain. Captain is her favorite. He’s my favorite too. I met his owner on Instagram of all places. She thought I was in college; I thought she was a middle-aged woman. Turns out, she is in high school, and I am a middle-aged woman. This random meeting led to a blessing. We call it “llama lessons.” We take llama lessons every other week. It’s an hour away on the cutest hobby farm. Our “teacher” is Flora, who boards her llamas at the alpaca farm. She wants to teach...

Keep Reading

Her Future Will Not Be My Broken Past

In: Living, Motherhood
Mother and daughter hold hands by water, silhouette photo

Forty years ago, you were an innocent child. You were brought into this world for a purpose. Your innocence is robbed before kindergarten by a trusted relative. You are broken and bruised by those entrusted to protect you. You are extremely emotional in your childhood, but no one listens to understand. As you grow into your teenage years, emotions are bottled up out of fear. You lean into promiscuous behavior because that is the only way you know how to get men to love you. Because of abuse that no one took you out of, you stay around those who...

Keep Reading

You Came between Us

In: Marriage, Motherhood
Toddler between mom and dad under sheet

Right in the middle of our deepest love, you came—just between us. A silent, unseen surprise. A mysterious miracle of incarnated love and joy. From that sacred moment that we couldn’t imagine being any sweeter, came you. Sometime in the middle of all the daily goodbye hugs, my stomach began to grow and you came between us. This beautiful bundle of life blossoming right inside of me. And we were in awe of every single tiny formation of you. In awe of who you were, excited by who you’d be, in awe that you were ours. You came between us...

Keep Reading

I’m a Mom Who Reads and is Raising Readers

In: Living, Motherhood
Mom with infant daughter on bed, reading a book, color photo

Since childhood, I’ve been lost in a world of books. My first true memory of falling in love with a book was when my mom read aloud Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. With each voice she used, I fell deep into the world of imagination, and I’ve never seemed to come up for air. My reading journey has ebbed and flowed as my life has gone through different seasons, but I’ve always seemed to carry a book with me wherever I went. When I entered motherhood and gave my whole life over to my kids, I needed something that...

Keep Reading

God Redeemed the Broken Parts of My Infertility Story

In: Faith, Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Two young children walking on a path near a pond, color photo

It was a Wednesday morning when I sat around a table with a group of mamas I had just recently met. My youngest daughter slept her morning nap in a carrier across my chest. Those of us in the group who held floppy babies swayed back and forth. The others had children in childcare or enrolled in preschool down the road. We were there to chat, learn, grow, and laugh. We were all mamas. But we were not all the same. I didn’t know one of the mom’s names, but I knew I wanted to get to know her because she...

Keep Reading

I Look Forward to the End of a Work Day for a Whole New Reason Now

In: Motherhood
Dad hugs toddler at home

Those minutes matter. Whether it’s 5 or 15, every single second of them counts. Unless you’ve been there, it’s impossible to explain. I’m not sure there are any words that could really create the right picture. But believe me when I say those minutes count. I’m talking about those final minutes leading up to that door opening and some form of relief being on the other side. Those minutes you never thought would come. Those minutes mean you made it through another day, and there is (possibly) some relief in sight. This is a new experience I wasn’t quite ready...

Keep Reading

I Had to Learn to Say “I’m Sorry” to My Kids

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Mom hugs tween daughter

My two oldest kiddos are at the front end of their teen years. I remember that time in my own life. I was loud, somewhat dramatic, I let my hormones control me, and I never—ever—apologized. This last part was because no one ever really taught me the value of apology or relationship repair. Now, I could do some parent blaming here but let’s be real, if you were a kid whose formative years were scattered between the late ’80s and early ’90s, did you get apologies from your parents? If so, count that blessing! Most parents were still living with...

Keep Reading

I Didn’t Know How Much I Needed Other Mothers

In: Friendship, Living, Motherhood
Two mom friends smiling at each other

I read somewhere the other day that when a child is born, a parent is too. In my first few months being a mother, I’m learning just how odd that sentiment is. In an instant, I became someone new. Not only that, but I became part of a group I didn’t realize existed. That sounds wrong. Of course, mothers existed. But this community of mothers? I had no idea. It took us a long time to get where we are today. Throughout our journey with infertility, I knew in my heart I was meant to be a mother. I knew that...

Keep Reading

5 Things Your Child’s Kindergarten Teacher Wants You To Know

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child raising hand in kindergarten class

I am a teacher. I have committed my life to teaching children. Of course, before I began this career, I had visions of standing in front of a group of eager-eyed children and elaborating on history, science, and math lessons. I couldn’t wait to see the “lightbulb” moments when students finally understood a reading passage or wrote their first paper. And then I had my first day. Children are not cut out of a textbook (shocking, I know) but as a young 23-year-old, it knocked me right off my feet. I was thrown into the lion’s den, better known as...

Keep Reading