I normally feel very stabby when someone (random or otherwise) offers unsolicited parenting advice to me. I know, I know…you’ve: a) been doing this longer, b) been in a similar situation, c) had three/four/seven kids of your own, d) had your share of hardships. All of this is 99% true. And I couldn’t give a shit about that same 99%. Until you are me, raising my kids, in my life? STFU.
Saturday I had enough sitting around the house, we were all a little stir crazy and the sun had long gone down. In a moment borne of sheer desperation, I decided to take everyone grocery shopping. Me + 3 Ladies + one cart + grocery store patrons = certain disaster. But I took my chances. Apparently my children are very cute, because some well-meaning old eastern European lady followed me around the produce section saying so for a solid 14 minutes. She also told me that, if she were their Grandma (wait, it gets better…) they would love her because she would take them to Disney World because that’s what Grandmas do and she knows because she had two kids and used to bring both of them to the market with her on very little money and now she has two grandkids and they come with her sometimes and she just lets them pick up as many peppers as they want sometimes she even buys the bruised ones because they’re only little once and they really just want you to…………ad nauseum. Fourteen minutes. I know, because when I asked her to move her cart I glanced down at my phone. And fourteen chatty minutes later I rolled my eyes down to glance at it again. I got into survival mode and we headed for the dairy section clear across the store after that.
Since grocery shopping went fairly well, I decided to press my luck a little more & we went to the drugstore. Mama needed a new lipstick. And new face wash because OH.MY.GOD. THE ZITS. Seriously…it’s like high school only this time I have a job and bedtime. I digress.
I was practicing avoidance, still slightly annoyed by Grocery Store Grandma, and the natives were getting restless. When they learned the lipstick was not for them, they were out on this noise. Standing in line later, baby on my hip grabbing at the chocolate bars, 6yo sure that every girl on every magazine cover was Nicole Sherzinger, 3.5yo hanging off the side of the cart…I was sweating. You know that face you think you’re wearing on the outside when your kid is losing their shit in the store and you want to do the same but you’re an adult and have to save face? Yeah…I think you’re probably not fooling anyone. Cause I apparently wasn’t.
I hear a soft male voice behind me say, “Don’t rush.”
That’s all. Don’t rush.
My face and neck got all hot, I swallowed a lump in my throat and blinked rapidly to stave back the tears. Why this? Why did this statement get me? This guy was no different than the Grocery Grandma and yet I almost wanted to hug him rather than slug him. I turned to smile at him and he tells me they have four kids, each of them grown up now and he wished he could go back and stand in a million lines with all of them little again.
He told me what I hear from everyone: the problems don’t go away, the stress doesn’t diminish, it just changes. Don’t rush it. Don’t be in a hurry to wish this away. Because these are the parts you’ll be wishing would come back. Maybe it was that he was so kind and soft-spoken about it. There was no judgement in his voice, he smiled at my Ladies and at me, he laughed at the silly statements they all made, he truly did look like he was soaking in the moments of the young. Maybe I felt like I could trust his analysis because he didn’t attempt to placate me with a “you’re doing a fine job” which almost always translates through my brainparts as “you look stressed as hell”.
Unsolicited advice is maybe a bit like a dentist’s visit. You know it’s coming, you’ll have to deal with it because it’s just part of being an adult, you don’t like it, but maybe some visits go better than others. Maybe sometimes you sit in that chair just miserable and seething and wanting to cuss your dentist out. And then sometimes it’s just an easy-peasy appointment and you pin all your hopes on it being like this every time.
I’m not going to stop the advice. Hell, I’ve probably given my fair share of well-meaning unsolicited advice that almost got me slapped (if I did it to you, sorreh!). I’m not going to like it all, I’m not going to even listen to 97% of it likely. But I gotta admit, that 3% that does filter through is kinda worth it. Because I’ve thought about that statement: Don’t rush, ever since it passed through my ears. It made me stop, it made me think, it made me quiet and contemplative. So thanks to the random Drug Store Dad (and maybe Grocery Store Grandma too).
In this case, I will take your advice, guy. Thanks.
Don’t rush. Got it.