How 20 cents, and a little kindness, helped make a struggling mum's day

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock 

While at the supermarket recently with my eight-year-old daughter I noticed a mother at the neighbouring checkout with two crying children.

As she struggled to put her groceries on the conveyer belt, her baby in her arms screamed. Not to be outdone, her toddler stood beside her, pulling at her shirt and throwing a massive tantrum.

I heard her do the angry whisper all parents do when faced with a similar situation.

"I don't even know what's wrong with you, please stop, please," she told the toddler.

She did not stop and I knew at that moment that I couldn't witness this poor mum go through it anymore.

I've been in the trenches.

There was a time I had three kids under the age of five. I haven't yet pushed the realty aside and replaced the crap memories with 'my kids were angels', like so many others do. It was one of the hardest times of my life.

I'll never forget pushing a double pram through my local supermarket, with my toddler and newborn, while holding a kicking and screaming 5-year-old in my arms.

Aside from the woman who decided it was the perfect time to tell me all about a great book on child behavioural issues, while I tried so desperately to flee, there were mostly a lot of disapproving looks and the odd 'knowing smile' from other parents.

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I just wanted the ground to swallow me up.

So, this time when confronted by someone else's discomfort, instead of just giving the knowing smile, I did something else. I extended an offer of support and it felt amazing.

With the help of my super kind daughter, we hatched a plan.

I gave my daughter a 20 cent piece and we slowly approached the mum and her crying children. I knelt down to face the little girl and quietly asked if she would like to see the money spin around the nearby charity bowl.

Immediately, her tears stopped and she looked on in wonder. She nodded her head to say "yes", tentatively she took my daughter's hand and walked to the charity collection point. There she stood quietly and watched the coin spin around and around the bowl, a big smile on her face.

The girl's mum caught my eye, smiled and mouthed: "Thank-you so much".

I nodded in return, and replied: "Not a problem".

I went back to putting my shopping onto the counter, until my daughter reappeared by my side, beaming with pride.

"Thanks for being my helper today," I praised her.

"You did good."

My daughter felt so proud of herself and so she should.

And it was at that moment that I decided if it feels right and the opportunity is there, that instead of just giving a knowing smile if I see another parent struggling, I'd offer some practical support.

It takes a village to raise a child and that village should always look out for each other. It's hard out there sometimes and we could all do with a helping hand.