Supermarket Mayhem and Master Mamas

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Celebrating the brave moms of challenging little ones.

Dear sweet young Mama from the Kroger line -

Mercy me, you’ve got your hands full — full with your middle baby — one of three — with a wild tuft of white-blonde hair and the Snow White princess dress she obviously lives in. I wonder if you give her Benadryl once a week just so you can pry it off and wash it in the the middle of the night.

Your words to me, “I don’t get out much.” Yeah — I didn’t either. It’s particularly wearing on a woman’s soul not to get out much, to be removed from both adult conversation and the quiet of nature. And then you do get out and 90 percent of the words you utter are “I’m" and "sorry”  as your little tornado does her thing before and behind you.

I wish I knew who your were so I could send this to you — because I guarantee we had a vastly different perspective about those furious five minutes in the check-out line. My fascinating middle one is a young woman now. My firstborn is about to fly the nest.

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When your little girl was grabbing every candy bar within her reach, tearing the corners of the wrappers and deciding which one to secretly stow in your purse, you were mortified. I watched in wonder and thought, “Dang — that kid must have a high I.Q. I wonder when they will decide to test her for G/T". If she’s like mine, she’ll be “gifted with a glitch”, but that will make her far more interesting.

When she wandered away from you as you fumbled to pay for your groceries — don’t worry, I had your back — she had this look of pure joy as she picked up every single Disney coloring book with her sticky fingers (candy quest!). Fancy fonts and color and art captured her spirit. This child is going to create; I know it. All you knew is that you had to pay an additional $5.95 for her favorite one — the one that was now missing its front cover.

Then... the hissy fit of the year! Oh my gosh — can she please be in my band when she grows up? A natural performer. Spinning in circles on her back avoiding your reaching hands like a little ninja. Impressive! You saw a stubborn, willful, difficult girl. I saw strength. I saw a baby who will one day be a young woman who will know who she is and what she stands for. I saw a future leader.

And I wish you could have seen, in the midst of your horrific embarrassment, the grace that surrounded you. You were in front of ME! Me, who prayed for your tender, tired heart, who silently blessed your precious hellion, who remembered the years when I “didn’t get out much”.

And then the precious cashier! He wanted to dump the entire stupid candy display in your cart, free of charge, and give you a big high-five on the way out (no wonder Moms don’t get out much — they make the check-out area a freaking nightmare). He didn’t quite know what to do with your baby, but he was full of compassion, not an ounce of judgment.

You were beautiful, full of patience. No yelling, no swatting. You just wanted to hit the rewind button and leave mini Snow White at home! The milk and eggs (and candy bars and coloring books) could have waited.

What you don’t know is that you also gave us a brief moment to practice patience and find our laughter and try our best to bless you in the midst of the chaos. We got a glimpse of a promising future that your current vantage point can’t give you quite yet.

You are a Master Mama, and your baby will shine. I know it! I can’t give you a hug because I don’t know who the heck you are. But for anyone reading this that knows one of these Master Moms in the thick of it, hunt her down and hold her tight. Chase her crazy Snow White or Ninja Turtle for as long as you can handle, and let her take a nap — or a shower.

Some people freak out about the whole “it takes a village” idea, but the strongest future-grownups require more supervision than 1 or 2 humans can possibly give. One day, in a vastly different phase of life, a young Mama may very well look at your strong, beautiful young woman of a daughter and ask, “What is the secret?” And you can say with humble triumph,


“The standard ingredients are love, grace, and mercy. The secret ingredient is pain. The pain is the reflection pool for the other 3, so that not an ounce of the good stuff goes to waste.”


As for today — I pray for you — I will call you Master Mama — I pray you will continue to be surrounded by merciful moments of grace, even when you are too tired to notice. Hang in there and try to keep her safe. The future is much closer than you realize.

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