I'm drained. It took a lot out of me.
There I was, walking into the supermarket and looking rather put together, if I may say so. It was that fall time of year with a nip in the air and a crystal blue sky, the perfect compliment to my olive greenish digital print curved hem knit skirt, Aran sweater, brown leather boots and a hand dyed velvet scarf. That scarf...............
Back in the eighties my sewing took a serious turn with surface embellishment which lasts to this day. The scarf was a luscious well washed black rayon velvet that gave up it's ghost with some discharge dyeing. The resulting surprise of autumn shades of golds and pumpkins made it a permanent visitor to my wardrobe every fall. Today was the perfect day to wear it. It cuddled my now crepey neck with its incredible softness and reminded me why I never sent it along to the thrift.
The supermarket, which will remain nameless, is one of note, being successful enough to have made the national evening news more than once. It's dedicated employees, incredible prices and quality and its immigrant family history have won the hearts of many in New England and I was no different. That means that I walked into a store with over twenty registers, 5-10 people deep at each one and all happy to be there. I only needed a few things and headed down the first aisle. I grabbed the milk then went for my target destination, the fish deli. See, they have their own fleet of fishing boats and lobstermen and it is hard to beat the freshness. Husband and I earlier agreed on a fish dinner, haddock. As I rounded the corner toward my fishmonger, I heard a child screaming, really really SCREAMING.
It got more intense by the minute. Shoppers squirmed with discomfort, and commented about it. The nice man next to me at the deli said "I've been there. It happens" as he waited for his haddock. I said the same back. The very young fishmonger mentioned that he could never handle this and he would probably never have children, evah, evah.
The screams grew louder and could now be heard in every inch of the large, busy store. As I headed toward some salad dressing, our little screamer appeared around the corner. She was incredibly cute, identical to Shirley Temple with all of her ringlets and chubby cheeks. She clearly was in prime two year old terror mode. Her screaming had not let up one moment from when I entered the store and continued. She had added "Mommy" to her repertoire, screaming in a way that actually scared me. Clearly, this kid wanted everyone in the store to think that "Mommy" was the worst creature on earth. She was succeeding.
Dad was in charge of the carriage. She was in it. I wondered how she could breath as she never let up one second. Shoppers down every aisle were getting more distressed by the moment. Then I saw Mom. She looked tired, so tired, so frazzled and she and Dad clearly had a program down to deal with their charge and get the groceries done. Dad said little but never once lost his kind face as he looked at his darling daughter. He'd wait at the end of the aisle while Mom ran from item to item then back to the carriage, clearly thinking it was probably the fastest way to get their weekly food needs purchased and out the grocery store door. Daughter screamed. She screamed like her leg was being cut off without medication, like her mom was drowning and she couldn't reach her, like it was the only defense she had left in a life and death battle for survival with the Boogie Monster. Mom kept running. Dad kept calm and Daughter kept screaming. They rounded the produce aisle.
Now when I saw Mom over by the lemons, the tears welled in my eyes like they hadn't in a long time. My throat thickened and trembled all at the same time. I made eye contact with her and it recalled the feeling of all the moments I ever had with my own children and how convinced I was that I was a total embarrassing failure as a parent. It was written all over her face and it broke my heart. Mom ran to get another item. I caught her face again and my stomach literally went int spasm, one of compassion and sorrow for this mom. What could I do? I saw another older woman look at her with the same understanding. Been there, done that.
As I lost sight of them around another aisle my discomfort had me clutch at my scarf, wanting its softness to soften the pain I felt for this Mom. I knew what she was feeling. I knew her kid was driving her insane. I knew her Dad was trying his best. My gut churned and told me these things.
Rounding another aisle and seeing Dad, still the strong one, with his little girl in a full vocal siren that would challenge an ambulance, I walked up to them and kindly looked the little girl in the eye, pulled off my scarf and rubbed it's washed velvet lushness on her tiny hand. I said with a smile and my best and kindest Good Witch Glenda voice,"it's really soft isn't it?" She stopped. My God, SHE STOPPED. The relief in Dad's face gave me all the approval I needed to continue. I wrapped it around her shoulders and rubbed it on her cheek. "It's pretty, isn't it? Doesn't it feel soft?" Her eyes widened more. "It's for you. You can share it with Mommy. OK?" She melted. Her eyes lost their prior manic glow and gained a tenderness her Dad could see. He relaxed. A young head covered woman stocking fruit drinks looked up from the floor and smiled at me. I didn't know where Mom was. I did know one thing. Her baby stopped crying. I know that Mom suddenly felt relief in that silence. I left them and got in line at the other end of the store with the horde. A good ten minutes passed and I never heard the child again or saw her parents. I wondered if she would rub that soft velvet on her cheek on the ride home like my daughter did with the satin edges of her own special blanket. It's tough being a Mom.
Like I said, I'm drained.
Many of you know that I occasionally tell a true tale on this sewing blog that bares only the slightest relationship to my creativity, but there is always some thread of connection. I hope you enjoyed this one. I hope that Mom gets a healthy glass of wine and a good nap courtesy of Dad. She has more than earned it. We've all been there. My heart goes out to all who have been there.