I heard her kids before I even saw them.  I was pushing my grocery cart through a busy back section of our grocery store when I heard two kids arguing over who hit whom.  I had my own kids with me who weren’t loving the grocery experience so I felt immediate empathy for this mother.  When I rounded the corner I saw the two squablers standing next to a tower of Pepsi products hassling each other and obviously having fun.  A third was strapped into the grocery cart and wasn’t too keen on staying in the cart. “I wanna get out mommy,” she whined.  Her mother dropped a few items into their cart and said no as she continued on with her shopping.  My children were unhappy in their restraints, but these I could handle.  Lily was in the cart front and center and I had opted to put Piper in the sling instead of the actual cart where she would put her hands over raw meat and crush bags of chips or poke holes in the bread.

I always get a few looks when I take my twins with me to the grocery store.  I actually like the fact that I can handle them both at the same time and get my shopping done. I guess I feel a bit of pride in that.  This trip, however, wasn’t so great.  Piper had been running a fever from sprouting new teeth and Lily was not excited about sitting on her bottom, but preferred to turn around so she could see all that we were getting.  I was popping pacifiers in their mouths anytime they got loud or handing them another animal cookie hoping it was a snack that they wanted.  My twins were having one of those simultaneous screaming moments when I first saw that other mom and her kids near the back of the store.  My kids were crazy, her kids were crazy.  An unspoken moment of bonding happened on that aisle.

A few minutes later I ran into her again, this time near the front as I maneuvered around a woman who had stopped in the center of the aisle blocking traffic.  This time we made eye contact and she said to me, “I think what you have is harder.”  I smiled and continued on as I replied over my shoulder, “Girl, I think what you have is harder.”  I moved on for my last item or two before heading to the checkout aisle.  I paid for my groceries and was putting Lily back in the cart with all of our bags when I realized I was standing by that mom for the third time.  Her kids were still messing around with each other and mine were at their limit.  We both smiled weakly at each other, eagerly looking forward to the front door when we could escape this place that made kids go nuts.  She looked me in the eyes and said, “Well, good luck!”  I smiled back at her and laughed a bit and repeated the same to her.  Although total strangers, we both knew what the other needed: a little bit of encouragement.