To the woman in the shop,

You don’t know anything about me or my family, as you watched Toby and I doing the shopping you had no idea what our situation was and it didn’t matter. You saw us and you smiled.
You didn’t know that I’d spent the previous 24 hours in pain, feeling sick and as if I was being punched repeatedly in the stomach. You didn’t know that in previous weeks I’ve wept about how inadequate I’ve felt as a wife and mum at times, or that my husband and I had just returned from a lovely couple of days away on a spa break. You saw us and you smiled.

Toby didn’t want Daddy to leave the car when we passed home en route to the shop, but Phil had some DIY to do so to stop Toby’s crying I told him what we needed to buy and we kept repeating the shopping list on the ten minute drive. At the shop, Toby was his usual independent and stubborn self, insisting on pulling or pushing the wheely basket without any help from me at all. This is when we first saw you and we exchanged smiles. Children induce that sort of reaction, don’t they? They encourage interaction between strangers who may otherwise have never noticed one another.

Toby and I continued on our way, him in charge of the basket and me asking him what else we needed, testing his memory and giving him the chance to pick the items from the shelves and put them in his basket. We saw you a couple more times before you came over to me and said “He’s so lucky.”

Toby is? Surely I’m the lucky one! I’ve got a super cool, gorgeous 18 month old with an infectious personality and a dazzling mind!

You continued to tell me how good I am with him and that I’m a great mum. Then you spotted my bump and you joyfully exclaimed “Oh and he’s going to have a sibling!” I told you that his little sister was due in April and you told me that she, too, was lucky to have me.

I have always lacked in confidence, always doubted my worth, never found it easy to accept compliments as and when they’re given. As a mother, I’ve probably had my confidence shaken on more occasions than any other time in my life, but you made me see things differently. I remembered that even on the days when I’m in pain, exhausted, not cooking fresh food from scratch, I’m still Toby’s mummy. I’m still the person who – along with Phil obviously – educates him through play, speech, song interaction and day-to-day experiences.

Us parents are a tough crowd, aren’t we? We put so much pressure on ourselves and we constantly worry that maybe we’re just not doing enough, not cut out for this 24/7 career of raising a mini human and forming them into a decent big human. It’s a scary job, one with many challenges along the way but you, lady in the shop, you stopped me in my tracks and made me think about it. You made me see that through the simple acts of interacting with my wonderful son, engaging him, nurturing his speech and his independence, I was doing a bloody good job!

So thank you for nearly making me cry with your kind words. Thank you for taking a moment from your day to tell me something I didn’t even know I needed to hear. It meant an awful lot.

With much gratitude and best wishes,

Hannah xx (The heavily pregnant redhead with the awesome mini redhead son!)