Dear Target Mom,
You. Yes, you. With the really loud children. I heard you halfway across the store. I saw the looks of other patrons aisles away from you. I saw the sly eyerolls, heard the exasperated sighs, heard them whisper, “They’re so loud!”
And they were. Your children, I mean. They were loud. But you were, too, when you told them, “Come on, already. People can hear you halfway across the store.”
I heard the exasperation in your voice, but what stopped me in my tracks to listen–and I did, I eavesdropped–was the laughter hidden in there, too.
And then, your children became very loud.
They started teasing. “Lalala!” one said, at the top of his lungs. Oh yeah? The other brother seemed to say, as he laughed and went, “LalaLAAAAA!”
The eyerolls continued. The sighs grew louder. And honestly? I couldn’t let this happen. Not in Target.
So I ran after you.
When I stopped you by saying, “Ma’am? Ma’am?” I saw the fear in your eyes. Here it comes, your eyes said to me. The reprisal for having the loud children.
And then I said, “Thank you.”
You looked so taken aback. You really did. So I had to explain.
“My mother died in May,” I said. “And my father left to go back home this morning. I’ve been… well, it’s been a rough day, and your children’s laughter is beautiful.”
“I’m so sorry for your loss,” you said.
I smiled and blinked back my tears, waved my hand in dismissal, like, it’s not a big deal, even though it is. The biggest deal. The thing that has changed my life forever.
“I just wanted to say thank you,” I said. “For being a great mom. For having such beautiful and happy children. I heard them from a few aisles away and they made me laugh. I really needed that.”
And then, before it got weird–okay, weirder than it already was–I walked away.
To those who rolled their eyes or complained about those loud, gorgeous children? Shame on you. The moment we stop children’s laughter is the moment they grow up into a world that complains and hurts far too much.
For a moment, I loved those children. I loved that mother. They shared their love with me, a stranger, and they didn’t even know it.
I had to tell you, Target Mom.
I just had to.