Imagine all the people trying not to be dicks

by Janelle Hanchett

So the other day I was at Costco. For our overseas readers, Costco is grocery store on steroids. Everything in is it huge, bulk, wonderful. I love Costco. It’s very American.

I shop there often because my family somehow manages to consume like 3 loaves of bread and 2 gallons of milk a week, even though I rationed milk consumption to dinner-only since the kids kept getting dehydrated in this fucking Valley heat.

Why do I admit these things online? There’s something wrong with me.

Though I’m technically there for “staples,” the miracle is that once I enter those giant roll-up doors, I realize I pretty much need every single thing in the damn warehouse, but none of this has anything to do with the story.

So anyway, against my better judgment, I venture into Costco with all four kids. Yeah. That’s three plus a newborn, folks. I knew I was playing with fire. It was like 3pm and 104 degrees or some nonsense. 3pm sucks. Everybody’s tired and miserable and generally over it, but rather than staring at walls at home (or napping), I’m towing them all through the sun-kissed aisles of ridiculous American consumerism. The baby was asleep in his carseat but I knew it wouldn’t last. He’d been asleep too long. Georgia was nearing the point where her exhaustion turns into squirrel-on-crack behavior. Bouncing off the walls, I believe it’s called.

And the two other kids, well, they’re pretty reliable. They behave in Costco. MOSTLY.

My coffee had worn off.

The kids were hungry.

So, why, exactly, why was I doing this?

Because I was having a little dinner party for my mother-in-law’s birthday that evening, and I had no food, as per usual. No choice, motherfucker. GET THIS SHIT DONE.

We do okay as we walk through the aisles. I was going quickly. There were samples. I thought I might actually pull through without disaster.

Then we hit the checkout line. It became very, very clear to me that I will not pull through.

The baby starts doing that closed-eye head-turn “wah wah wah” thing. The fists start shaking, the legs kick a bit. Of course I start pushing the stroller back and forth, doing the frantic “Shh shh shh” thing, but I know it’s not going to work.

He settles for a moment. Five seconds letter he’s back at it with more force.
“Fuck. Should have put him in the carrier.”

But I didn’t want him on my body. IT’S 9 MILLION DEGREES and the thought of 30 minutes in air-conditioned Costco without a sweaty head and 20 feet of material across my chest just sounded too amazing. Sometimes we need our bodies back for a moment, ya feel me?

I glance at the line ahead of me and see the slowest moving humans on the planet. They’re enjoying a chat with the checkout dude. I realize this hell is my own.

The baby’s really getting worked up now. I remove him from the seat but he wants to nurse, bad. It’s been over 2 hours at this point. He’s clearly wondering how he’s managed to stay alive this long.

I hear a woman say “Honey, sit down! You’re going to fall!” I look back and see Georgia attempting to STAND in the cart (which the

Hey dumbshit, bring the carrier next time.

Hey dumbshit, bring the carrier next time.

kids were pushing). With the baby in one hand I grab Georgia with the other, tell her to sit down. She ignores me. She’s been ignoring me lately. I can’t figure out if it’s a fun feature of age 3 or some twisted symptom of my-mom-just-had-a-baby-and-I-hate-life syndrome. At any rate it’s loads of fun!

I curse myself for not bringing the carrier inside. I consider leaving the checkout line completely and nursing the baby in one of those giant chairs in the furniture area. But the dinner party. I don’t have time. And his diaper is wet too. Nope. I have to plow the fuck through. Get through this line with a screaming newborn and horribly misbehaving toddler and the card and the wallet and groceries and the cart and stroller.

By this time, Arlo is wailing. I’m bouncing him on one arm and pulling the toddler into the seat and trying to use my nicest voice (as opposed to my “I’m going to fucking kill you” voice) to tell my older kids to please load groceries onto the black moving belt thing (WTF are those called?) and I realize in a flash that I look absolutely pathetic. My shirt was even pulled up a bit, exposing stretch marks and a belly modern society would call “fat.” I’m straddling the line of humiliation and PURE BEAST MODE.

The dude asks me for my Costco card. I’m trying to buckle Georgia in with one hand and soothe the baby and direct the other kids and get the card and pull my shirt down and move the cart through the thing.

People are looking at me. I’m terrified of keeping them waiting.

My god in that moment I swear I almost looked at complete strangers and asked “Would you HELP me?”

But I didn’t, because we don’t do that sort of thing. Nope. This is America, where each human fends for herself and a dumb broad like me, well shit, I’m the one who decided to have all these kids and go to Costco and whatever, whatever.

Ain’t my problem, lady.

Sucks to be her.

HURRY UP, pathetic mommy, so I can get home.

Imagine if somebody walked over and started putting some groceries on the moving thing. Imagine if somebody came over and said “Here. Let me get this toddler buckled in.” Or asked “Can I help you?” Shit. Even a smile would have altered my life.

Honestly, I can’t believe somebody didn’t intervene solely because it was too painful to watch.

I’m a tough sonuvabitch. I’m tough as nails. I don’t break easily and this ain’t my first rodeo, but you know what? Sometimes we need help. Sometimes we need somebody to take a minute or two and just HELP. I never ask for help, but I would have proposed marriage to the human that lent me a hand in that moment.

But nobody did. And that’s cool. I don’t deserve shit and I’m not entitled to anything. I knew I’d survive, and I did, and I don’t feel sorry for myself.

But I made a decision right then and there that the next time I see some human struggling, I’m going to help her. I probably would anyway, but from now on it’s a self-imposed requirement. And I’m going to make my kids help strangers when it’s obvious they could use a hand. We live in a community. When the fuck are we all going to act like it?

Of course we don’t have to. Of course it’s not our problem. But you know what is our problem? Not being a dick.

And as far as I can tell, watching some pathetic, overwhelmed woman like me in the Costco checkout aisle while glaring at her angrily is, in fact, being a dick.

And once again, my comment policy pulls through like a brave warrior, life mantra, the deepest spiritual concept ever written:

Try not to be a dick.

Just try. Let’s all try. I’ll try, you try. Boom.





Marianne Elliott (author, yoga teacher and human rights activist) had me at this question: “Do you wish you could find the courage to do what you really feel called to do?”

Well, until I read this one: “Do the voices in your head tell you that you can’t do it because you are not ready, not qualified enough, not good enough?”

Um, yes.

You know, the thing is, you know when somebody is speaking your language,willing to speak the truth, and brave enough to face the real shit.

Marianne Elliott strikes me as one of those people.

She’s enrolling now (deadline is August 1!) for her online class 30 Days of Courage, which is meant for “people who want to step out of their comfort zones” and lead a more courageous life. (Is it wrong that I immediately think about traveling the north American continent in a trailer with my family? That’s what I’m into lately.)

In her words, you’ll learn:

• how to build a stable foundation for your courageous life;
• practices to cultivate your innate inner courage;
• ways to use curiosity and experimentation to sneak past the guards at the gate to your comfort zone;
• how to find the small act of bravery that you can do right now;
• exercises to tone your courage muscles;
• practices to ensure your courage is also compassionate.

She offers all kinds of other classes too. Check them out.

more stuff I shouldn't have said out loud:

  • Stephanie Cowan

    I would have helped you. I swear.

  • sonia

    mothers are tough motherfuckers. we need to help each other more. pretty sure we can do that, if we want to.

  • Cara

    Yes, this. I have had more than my fair shares of grocery store moments like this, even when I only had two. I always help now, well, I help when my children are actually behaving.

    And now that my 3rd is almost 5 months, every person in this city has had an opportunity to see my boob. With the two olders there is no ‘find a quiet place to nurse and sit down and feed the baby’, there is only broad public in the middle of the playground/pool/checkout line with the baby popping off and on because it’s all SO interesting but he’s SO hungry.

  • Marie

    That sucks. It absolutely takes a village. I would’ve helped you out.

    We get so lost in ourselves and what’s going in in our own little worlds that we don’t look around and realize that someone might need help right at that moment in time. Amen to remembering to look around AND offer help as well as teach our kids to! Thanks for the reminder.

    Keep fighting the good fight.

    P.S. I was talking to you in my head as I read the first part – “just get comfy in one of those bit armchairs in the furniture section” lol Dang time restraints.

  • Marie

    That sucks. It absolutely takes a village. I would’ve helped you out.

    We get so lost in ourselves and what’s going in in our own little worlds that we don’t look around and realize that someone might need help right at that moment in time. Amen to remembering to look around AND offer help as well as teach our kids to! Thanks for the reminder.

    Keep fighting the good fight.

    P.S. I was talking to you in my head as I read the first part – “just get comfy in one of those bit armchairs in the furniture section” lol Dang time restraints.

  • Elaine B

    Sometimes i think people will be very offended if i try and help so hold back. i must try harder to help next time.

  • Clementine

    Yes, yes, yes! I would have loaded your groceries for you, and I would have forced my 14-year-old son to entertain Georgia. I have held babies right outside bathroom stalls for new moms, just as I would help an elderly person cross a street. Engage, people! We are a nation of zombies, valuing our detached anonymity more than community. Fail.

  • Carrie

    I’ve noticed that my husband and his brothers always help someone when they see the need, no matter how awkward it seems. It made me realize how much people just *ignore*. Like people ignoring that they saw that woman drop her headband. Or ignore the guy trying to open the door with his hands full. It’s ridiculous. It’s seems like 9 times out of 10 everyone just can’t break out of their bubble. People need to realize it’s not embarrassing to interact with another human being and fucking help someone load groceries on a conveyor belt (is that what it’s called??)

    So sad. 🙁

  • Erin

    Us Mom’s are in this together. I would have helped you.

  • Elaine Eisenbeisz

    You should have asked for help!

    • Stephanie

      I don’t think she should have to ask for help. JMO

      • Paulina Maldonado-Gomez

        People can’t read minds. Ask vs Guess culture is something to investigate. If you never ask, you won’t get.

  • Rachel

    Another reason why you need to pack up and move to Iowa. You see, we do help. Hell, we’d even help you load your car, strike up a conversation, and make goofy faces to keep the kiddos smiling. Whatever it takes. Small town Iowa kicks large city ass. Everyday.

    • Mariah

      I’m going to have to agree with Rachel on that. I used to think there wasn’t much of a difference in living in small town Northern California and living in small town Iowa. But, every time we go back to Iowa, I am reminded that people are a little friendlier, and a little more likely to offer some help. I love living in California, but that is something I miss.

  • em

    (I am not trying to sound pretentious or snobbish–I hope it does not come out that way.) Even though I am dirt poor & it costs more, I only shop at our local co-op because generally speaking, people are less dickish there & more apt to offer help. I have actually been astounded at times, at the co-op and at the farmer’s market, how willing people are to help me (I also have four: a baby, a toddler, a crazy six year old, and a first born eight year old.) I always make a note to myself to pay it forward & help others the way I’ve been helped, but it seems I am always the most pathetic creature around. I dunno. So I guess there is hope if you can find the right community, right?

  • Sara Katey

    I had a very similar experience; IN COSTCO. I three kids, ages 5, 3 and infant; only we made it through the check out and decided to eat. Heaven help me. So with my full cart, food for lunch, hungry baby, and fussy toddler, I wait by a table that’s nearly cleared. The second I turn my back to get the toddler out a couple squeezes by me and takes the table. What in the heck?!

    I wait by another table… it happens again!! Only this time the older gentleman that sat down, acknowledged that I may have been waiting and asked if we wanted to join he and his wife. There’s four of us and two of you, I’ve waited twice – and so can you.

    Because I had recently moved to California, I blame the independence of this state. I’ve never seen anything like this happen in South. That’s my story anyway.

  • Bobbi

    Thanks for keeping it real. I’m a mother of twins, and couldn’t imagine 4. It’s not all sunshine and roses! It’s bullshit and memories.
    I’ve made it a mission in life to help any mom out there. Struggling Dad’s too. There have been many moments when a helping hand would have been welcomed! Love your blog.

  • Karen

    Is it creepy to say “I LOVE YOU?” Well I don’t care!! Your reality is what most of ours is—you just speak/write about it! I love that about you! You’re mind-blowing raw honesty!! I one million percent get it!!

    With l that being said, I certainly, without a doubt woulda helped you!! I’m that lady in the store that comes up to you and your crying kids and talks to them to distract them from their little piece of drama! Some parents simply embrace my visit, and others huddle around their kids like I’m a vulture! But I don’t care!! I’ve been a parent of 3 kids acting like little crackheads in the store. Parents need help. They just need to relax and let others help!! Who cares if I take their baby for a spin around the store in the shopping cart??? LMAO j/k

  • Lori

    In NYC for sure no one would have even looked at you..eyes forward at all times!
    However, if you were to be in the county north of that – westchester- ( you say that from your nose) most of us would have helped. I know I would have.
    I have been helped with my two sons when my 2 yr old decided to dump his newborn brother out of the stroller and flipped the car seat upside down….
    Three people stopped to help and 12 yrs later I remain grateful to those strangers who took pity on me as I rushed out to bring the baby to get his head checked.
    (Dr said he was “fine!” … That remains disputable until this day)
    So yea…help a sista out people!

    • Zoë

      I am a native Nyer and that was a very ignorant comment. I ) have visited and had an experience that gives you reason other than amassing an opinion on 5 million people I apologize(those who are rude in Manhattan are more likely to be transplants from another place). Nyers are just like everyone else. We just have much less personal space and are always in a rush to do the same things you do, lacking the luxury of the personal safety of commuting in our oe bubble or car. I had three babies one at 19,21,and the last at 24. I can’t remember not being given a seat or had my strollers carried up stairs by strangers. I nursed through my second pregnancy and at one point had 3 that pulled my shirt up publically and had people help me in all situations.
      Oddly the only time I had negative experiences were in all white upper class areas. There I was asked if I was the Nanny and then looked at like the person was punishing me for breeding.
      Nyc is just like anywhere else. I will say we are in a rush way to much( that is when tourists or visitors see us, as all of the spots to see is in our work districts) We may seem aloof,but ask anyone for help and the odds of getting it are no different. I think better as the amount of kindness and patience needed to live in peace with a vastly overpopulated and melting pot of different people is massive. I am now 44 and disabled by an accident and I get on a train and a vast choice of seats and help always appear. Come visit and look past the people trying to eat on a 30 min lunch break and you will see beautiful loving people all around you. Not homogeneous but all people.

  • Melissa

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked a mom if she needs help, only to be turned down. Recently, I watched a mom with a squirming baby try to open one of those umbrella strollers with one hand while trying not to drop the baby or her purse. She turned down my help THREE times until I finally just took the stroller away from her and opened it. It really is ok to accept help. I wish we would get over that “I have to do it myself” thinking (and I know I’m just as guilty sometimes,LOL, but I’m really working on it). The hard part is teaching my kids that even when they are turned down after offering help, that you keep on offering. They are at that stage where they feel embarrassed that I made them offer and the person says “no, I’m fine.” In the grocery store parking lot, I sent my teenage son over to a car where a woman with her twin babies was trying to load the car while the kids were screaming. She wouldn’t let him load the car while she got the babies settled even when I called over to her and waved. He said she looked at him like he was going to steal her groceries. It’s hard to keep on asking when the answer is always no, but I hope they never stop asking.

    • Sherry

      Me either Melissa…I just keep right on trying AND make my boys keep right on trying.

      Can’t believe there wasn’t one mom in that line who had “been there done that” and didn’t offer to help. Hell, I can’t believe there wasn’t one DAD in the line who offered to help.

      In fact, I can’t believe there wasn’t a Costco employee who tried to help!

      Wait…I think I just crossed over into the land of make-believe.

      Carry on…


    • Ronaj

      I have a hard time with rejection. I can be alternately super outgoing and super scared of people. I don’t think I would have helped if I had recently been treated badly for being friendly, and that seems to be happening more and more often. Mean moms are scary and I’m tired of being treated like shit. On that note, when I was in the service industry I always went above and beyond and helped as many people as I could because I loved my job and I felt like I was the appropriate person to be doing that. It was my job and I knew what my social role was.

  • Lyndsy

    Move to VT.
    I’m living your life right now…a 7 year old, 4 year old, 2 year old and an infant. I almost had the same day here last week…but some angel”aka a fellow mom” named Heidi was totally NOT a dick. She loaded my food onto the black moving thing then when she saw me struggling AGAIN at the car, she helped me load it there too do I could get the kids into the sir conditioned car as the had become extremely sweaty and bothered in the 5 min walk to the car.
    There are a lot of Heidi’s in VT. It’s how we roll. There done dicks too, but WAY more Heidi’s. we need more in the world.
    By the way, props for trying to pull off a dinner party.

    I love your blog, keep it coming. When I see it in my inbox I feel like my soul sister had messages me! Thank you.

  • Maia

    I’m sorry. I am sorry that not one person didn’t think outside of their box and offer help. I am far from a saint- more like a slutty cunt, but I offer my help and I give of myself- it’s just the right thing to do!

    I took my two young sons to Starbucks the other morning. I didn’t want to, my 4 year old ignores me- but we are there and they both hate their muffins, then their chocolate chip cookies- seriously, I boughty sons cookies for breakfast and they whined and told me that they didn’t like them either, so for the third time, I am in line, and the employes know that I trying to make a special memory with my kids, and this older dude who smelled and looked kind of homeless was short 17cents, so I say, ” hey! I have the change, lemme give it to you of you won’t let me buy you a cup of coffee!” Warm smile on my face, I have bed head and a zit on my chin- and the guys loudly tells me off. People looked. My sons look both worried and confused. Graciously, I smiled and told him that I was trying to pay kindness forward. The barista gave me my lolicakes for free. She was mortified.

    • Margaretta

      That’s a smart answer to a dilficuft question.

  • Rosemarie gilbert

    Omg I’m having flashbacks! Had 4 kids in three years. So was occasionally trying to get things done with two 3 year olds, a 2 year old and a newborn. But Sometimes you just havta go get shit done. I can’t tell you how any times I so wanted to step in, lend a hand, offer to bounce a kid on a hip; but after too many ” no thanks I’m fine” responses ( too much fear in our society? Too worried to let a stranger near or interact with our kids? Who knows) I’ve fallen back to just trying to make goofy faces at the fussing ready to wail kids in the hope that it helps some
    I think I need to go back to offering to help no matter how often the help is refused so that it’s there for those that can and will accept!
    Hang in there!

  • eve

    Love, love, love this. I realized that I probably wouldn’t have helped, and just stood at a distance, sympathetic but not wanting to overstep any boundaries. So it gave me pause when you pointed out that we all live in some sort of community and need to start acting like it. That not only are friendly gestures okay, but welcome. I live in New Jersey, where everything moves a mile a minute, and we all tend to stay isolated in our own little bubbles, so this was serious food for thought. And bless you for making it this far-you totally have my respect. Shopping with four kids, including a newborn, is no joke. Hell, raising four kids is no joke (my husband is one of four, and I consider my mother in law a freaking saint), especially while working and building a career. You are nailing it!

  • Johanna

    Amen! I was fortunate enough to run into a couple who helped me load the belt and then my cart at BJs and I was so thankful. Completelt used to dicks. I will pay their kindness forward.

  • Tracey

    This has happened to me. I get it. I hated it. I have also been behind others in similar. I now help. I get it. Dicks… suck.

  • Cynthea

    OK – this is pretty hysterical. This was what I just posted on FB, right before I scrolled down and saw your new post.

    “Note to self: bad idea to bring awake baby to Costco. On a weekend. Right before we enter the melting down portion of the evening.

    Bad, bad, bad idea.”

    I have a ten week old with colic. I DO NOT have four children. I only have my one. It’s all terrifying. I DID this afternoon sit in the corner of the Costco on one of the office chairs they have on display and nurse said baby. It didn’t help. That was AFTER I took him out of the wrap because he was freaking out while on me and husband ran out to the car to get the car seat stroller thing so we could alter his environment to calm him down. He also had a wet diaper but I didn’t want to cross the entire store to go to the bathroom to change him but felt it would be icky to change him on the table that was set up right in front of me.

    I guess we were having a similar Costco experience.

    It made me laugh and I had to share. You are my inspiration. When I read your posts I am reminded that I can do this and have great company out in the world. Even if it isn’t in my own backyard.

    Sing out sista!

  • Dana

    I totally would’ve helped you, too. I feel like that has been me so many times and I only have two kids. But whenever I see a mom struggling I always ask if she needs help because I know how it feels to have all eyes on you and not in a good way. Don’t be a dick indeed.

  • Cristina

    I’ve been there and I totally feel your pain. 3 is a painful age. I would have helped you. If I had all my kids with me I would have gotten in line next to you so they could cancel each other out.

  • Stephanie

    🙁 I’ve absolutely been there. This makes me so mad! I’ve only got 2 babies (Twins- they are 5, almost 6). God forbid if I ever had to leave the house when they were babies though… the glares I would get for the 100,000 reasons I could get glares was soul-crushing at times. (Examples: 2 babies at 19, screaming babies, stinky babies, no man with me (he had to *gasp* WORK), the obvious exhaustion, wits end-edness). Now I’m sometimes the (still) young mother with the whiny ass child laying in the middle of the cereal isle screaming because I won’t buy FOUR boxes of cereal and he/she HATES raisin bran, never mind that the other 2 boxes I’m buying are sugar-coated crack flakes. I was, and sometimes still am, painfully self conscious about all of these things. And moving isn’t an option for me– btw, I live in a “small town”. Sometimes that makes it worse. Because I see people I actually know when my kids decide to be assholes and I had to leave the house in sweatpants and un-washed hair. Somehow it’s a weakness if you happen to need help. You’re a failure if you don’t “keep it together” and be the picture of perfection in public. I actually know some who would be offended if a stranger offered to help. Bottom line: Everyone on this earth will need help at some point. People in general are too engrossed in themselves; too oblivious to other peoples struggles, comings/goings, and silent/deafening cries for help. Women are especially hard on each other. It’s ridiculous really.. but, to hell with those types of people. Their mamas obviously did something wrong. Like forget their carrier when they were a newborn or made them eat RAISIN BRAN.

  • Tedi

    This story so reminds me of the time I went to the grocery store with my 2yo, 6 months pregnant. It was supposed two be a quick trip so I had dared leave the house without a diaper bag. *gasp* As I buckle my child into the rocket ship cart, he promptly vomits. Everywhere. It’s all over him, all over me, dripping down through the cart… And there I stand with the “Oh shit, what do i do” look on my face. All of these people are calmly passing by me, entering the store like nothing is happening, even a few mothers with diaper bags of their own. And not one of them thought to stop and help this poor vomit-covered woman with so much as a baby wipe! I eventually stripped him down, left the clothes on the ground & went into the store with a naked toddler to alert someone that they might need to hose down a cart outside. Then as an afterthought, I asked for a plastic bag with which I could gather his vomit-soaked clothes. I strapped him back into the car seat thinking “please don’t vomit please don’t vomit” and also “how in the hell am I going to do this with two kids!?” Needless to say, it was not my finest hour & it would not have taken much effort to be my fucking hero in that moment. …AND i really liked those shoes too!

    • Sherrie

      That happened to me! There I was inside Walmart when my 3yo vomited all over himself, me, the cart (and everything in it), and the floor. What do you do? I, brilliant woman that I am, tried to catch it so my hands were full too. Here, I have a better ending. A lady walked by, patted me on the back and gave me one of those little travel packs of tissues and said that she was sorry that was all she had. She said she would go tell someone at customer service where I was. I loved her

  • Francesca

    I have 2 toddlers 1 year apart and dude, I’m beginning to think that some people are somehow amused by watching a mama struggle. I can’t tell you you how many times I’ve wrestled a double stroller through a doorway as people just look on..But the worst is that judging stare, like how dare I leave the house with these kids I can’t seem to manage on my own..that being said, sometimes angels appear to pick up dropped toys or help corral a frantic toddler. With a wink and a nod, I am given 10 less seconds of aggravation and I’m so grateful I want to cry in those moments! So I guess the assholes make the few non-assholes really stand out, like beacons in the storm.

    Ps. I’m convinced that every Costco is cursed, like that house in Poltergeist. Still, it’s the only place where I can find reasonably priced K cups, and I’m addicted to them, so to Costco I go. Reluctantly.

  • Connie

    Wish I’d been there to lend a hand. Not just because I could gush about how much I love your blog, how easily I relate, how hard I laugh, how it’s inspiring me to get back to writing myself & blah, blah, blah…but also ’cause I have some karma I need to get back out there.

    I can only smile at your shit show since I lived it myself (ok, I only have a 5 yr old, 3 yr old & a 4 mo old. I don’t say ONLY often, but…) In our version of this circus, my two older kids had discovered the M & M mini candy canisters that are outfitted with tiny fans on top. Whatever asshole created these things clearly doesn’t understand his young consumer…So YES. Yes. With a long line of irritated would-be shoppers behind us, my 3 year old starts maniacally screaming as she has tangled the M & M fan in her hair. Baby is startled awake by the blood-curdling shrieks & starts bawling. I quickly realize there will be NO untangling happening here. This is about to be a chop job. As I am asking the checkout person for scissors, the woman behind me is grinning & loading my items on the conveyor belt (there ya go, sista!). I give her a look of utter adoration (MAMAs unite!!!) & we agree that bangs are on-trend right now, anyways, right? as I start surgery on my daughter’s massively knotted hair. I avoided a meltdown because here was another adult, more importantly, another MOTHER, that could help me see the hilarity of the situation. We laughed & tag-teamed what could have been a horrible scene. I didn’t even get guilted into buying that stupid M & M fan that very likely STILL holds a nice chunk of my kid’s mop! (I probably should have.)
    Man, would I love to run into her somewhere & buy her a drink. Or three.

    I’m with you. Mamas gotta band together. Everyone else just has to quit being dicks. Here’s to better luck next time, chica. ‘Cause you & I both know…there will be a next time. 😉

  • Diane

    You got through it…and now comes the next lesson in life… People are mean and evil and just don’t give a rats “A” about know one… But your decision to help the next person that looks like there in need of a helping hand is going to start a domino effect… Do your Thang Gurl!!!

  • Francisca

    Had an angel bag my groceries when I went to the store with a 5year old, a 3 year old and a newborn. Thank you angel lady. Would have cried at the checkout, I swear I would have.

  • Sherry

    I’m going to risk it all and be honest here: I sometimes hesitate to offer a helping hand because I’m scared I’ll pull back a bloody stump.

    I dunno. I hear it so often: “Everyone just needs to butt out of our business.” Frankly, I’m starting to believe it. Lately, crossing into someone else’s business feels like a risky move.

    But you are totally right. I need to stop being a dick – albeit a limp, wussy one – and start stepping up and saying, “Can I give you a hand?” And if I get a bitchy response, well fuck ’em. That’s on them, not me.

    Great insights, as always.

  • dana

    Been there and I know exactly how you feel. One time at the airport, I was trying to get the frozen breastmilk to thaw and a nice gentleman who was sitting next to me (without saying a thing) disappeared for seconds and came back with hot water.

    Then, a few minutes later, while I was trying to pour it in the bottle while holding a screaming hungry infant, came over, took the baby so I can do my thing. That made my first travel experience with babies feel so much better.

    However, a few weeks ago I was on a playdate and one of the mothers with three kids under two (twins) was having trouble with one of the infants, I went over and said “let em hold the baby for you”, she looked at me and said firmly “I got it”. Like, she doesn’t need sympathy or whatever. I thought that was just strange. I was like “wow, Americans are so ignorant!” (I am not American)

  • Wendy

    I would have helped too – I try to help someone do something every day or at least offer. I hope I am raising my kids to do the same! People really need to pull their heads out of their own asses and look around sometimes!

  • Laura

    This is so timely. Just yesterday I was shopping solo, in line behind a woman with a 2-year-old in meltdown mode. I was trying to figure out a way to offer help without offending or seeming condescending or creepy. I offered to help unload the groceries but she said no thanks. It shouldn’t be so hard to offer or accept help.

  • Robyn

    When my daughter was a baby, freshly home from way to long in the NICU because of way too little time in utero and clearly starving to death if her volume was any indication, I had her exhausted, screaming brothers (2 & 5) at IKEA an hour past their bedtime because I had to have a new mattress for the bed my mother-in-law was supposed to be sleeping on when she arrived that evening but couldn’t because the cat, in protest over the new baby and my husbands travel schedule, decided it made a really good litter box alternative…I would have killed for a little help. A very insightful woman informed me that I was probably dehydrated and if I would just take my children home and get a nice cup of water everything would seen so much better. I wrestled the kids and mattress to my car, nursed the baby and cried. Big, snotty, sobbing kind of cried!

    My boys (13 & 16 now) saw a woman in the grocery store juggling twin newborns and twin toddlers while trying to buy groceries and asked if they could help her. They loaded her groceries onto the black thing, bagged them for her, and carried them to her car. I asked them why they decided to help her and my oldest looked at me and said “Mom, IKEA, it’s the kind of thing that sticks with you…for life.”

    If I’m lucky, at least my boys will grow up to be less dick prone.

    • Lorraine Hakes

      A similar thing happened to me and my newborn. I’m from the UK and had to change the most disgusting nappy I have ever seen. It had exploded all up inside his vest and all over his sleep suit, to the point it reached his neck. I was changing him in the ladies toilets and had stripped him off. He was screaming. Then he urinated, turning the changing mat into a kind of marinade for the baby of various bodily functions. I was absolutely flustered and with my husband unable to come and help, I was at a loss how to comfort my shit-ridden baby as well as clean up the excrement, urine and his cold little body. Thank goodness for the kind of people that shop in Marks & Spencer (a semi-posh grocery store in the UK) as one lady gently laid a hand on my back and asked if I was “OK”. Absolutely not. I started to sob. She asked me the name of my son and she took over. She handed me soiled clothes and I did whatever it was she told me to do. She got him organised within seconds do it seemed. God bless her for stepping in. I’d definitely help anyone I saw struggling.

  • Tonya Fullenkamp

    I love you! This made me cry, laugh and made me really pissed off all at the same time. I have twins that are seven, Max just turned four and I have a newborn. All boys. I feel you.

  • Linda

    See..this why I like you. This is exactly something I would have said. My sister often has to warn people upon first meeting me. My motto is, even though this doesn’t really apply here is, I’m not a bitch…I just simply say exactly what everyone else is thinking and afraid to say it. I only have 2 and my 2nd is like your 2nd and Georgia all in one. Sooooooo, I DO NOT TAKE HIM ANYWHERE!!!!! Fuck that!!! Everyone thinks I’m crazy. I don’t GAF. SO ON THAT NOTE….you are one strong motha for taking them to Costco. And for your MIL! Oh hell to the no! Lmao!

  • Jessica G.

    Oh, you have me crying again. Thanks for this. Just over a year ago, at the end of the last school year, I was 8 months pregnant, it was very very very hot, my then-3.5 yr old was having a tantrum , screaming and blocking the entrance to the nursery (holding the fence on both sides!) where I needed to pick up my then-5.5 yr old so nobody could get in, I was also carrying too many bags and needed to pick up 5.5 quickly as then-7 yr old was just about to get out of school. I was pleading with 3.5 to please please stop and just come with me, almost fucking crying, when all of a sudden another mum said “shall I get her out of nursery for you?” Dear god, never have I been so grateful for so little and so much. I told her yes, please, and when she got back out (by which time 3.5 had calmed down), I said thanks not only for bringing her, but even more so for reminding me that it’s ok to need help sometimes. Thanks for reminding me tha offering to help does not imply judgement but is, indeed, just helpful and so lovely. Oh, and BTW, no. 4 is now nearly one (bloody hell! in itself), and I still use the “but, three kids and a baby!” excuse as to why I don’t get things done! PS. I love the haircut. Why won’t my husband listen to me and grown his beard? (no, I’m not a hipster, I’ve been trying to persuade him for twelve years! – ie ever since we’ve been together!).

  • Amy

    I don’t bring my kids to Costco. I can barely stand the parking lot! You are a brave woman! I get it…. Sometimes bulk shopping is worth the extra pain. How did the dinner party turn out?

  • Mathilde

    I was once rescued from full on screaming baby check-out mayhem by a kind lady, who just walked up to the sweaty, struggling mess I was and said “Just tell me what to do to help you, just tell me what to do.” I sent her off to rock the screaming baby, while getting my shit together at the check-out and nearly cried with gratitude. Ever since I keep my eyes peeled for parents in distress!

  • Jamey

    Ugh…that feeling that people are waiting and judging. My BP went up just reading about what happened. I KNOW that feeling and only have two kids. It’s why I sometimes consider never leaving the house. So glad other people mentioned the NorCal thing…born and raised there but moved to Indy a year ago. Number #1 culture shock: how freaking nice people are here! I was in Old Navy the other day, with no kids, and a woman actually offered to let me go ahead of her in line because she had returns and I had purchases. She was concerned she’d take longer and we’d both been waiting a long time. Genuine kindness. It’s out there. People know how to do it. Next time you don’t see it remember all of us…we’d help.

  • Sara

    Aww man, you brought me right back to this awful time I was in the securit line in the airport with my two littles (both under 3 at the time) and the jackwagons decide to pull my husband out to that special little room to get the once over. I was left with the stroller, 2 car seats, carry on luggage and the two squirmy kids. I thought I was gonna lose my shit immediately. And I probably would have especially as they told me I couldn’t bring the bottled water (to mix the baby’s formula) on the plane. I had to mix it right there. I got out of line with all the mother loving baggage and just sat on the floor to do what I had to do. And then some sweet woman said “Let me help you”. I could have cried. I dot know who sent here but she GOT IT, that we are all in this together and maybe she had been in my position before but it didn’t matter. I was so grateful she didn’t stay in line and watch my discomfort like the rest.

  • Kim

    Just like all the other commenters, I’ve been there too. Sometimes in the grocery store, sometimes in an airport. Between having babies and being a foreigner in our country of residence, my pride has been dashed to pieces a million times over. My new mind game I play re: asking for help? I spin it like I’m GIVING SOMEONE A CHANCE TO BE NICE. Maybe they were scared to offer help. Maybe they didn’t notice I needed an extra hand. Or like 2 extra fingers to keep the cart from toppling over. Whatever. I pretend like they just didn’t realize the impending disaster and that if they did of COURSE they’d offer, so I’ll just ask them to, you know, do a specific task for me. Hold the baby, for example. (With a nice smile but the mama do-it-or-you’re-grounded eyes.)

    On the OTHER hand, for the kind ones that offer help but are denied, I might have done that once or twice, too. Only because sometimes sometimes sometimes depending on the kids or the situation, we’re beyond help. But the offer is always always always appreciated, as well as the validation that whatever crisis we’re in actually looks as bad as it feels.

    I bet no one offered to help you, Janelle, because on the outside your badass self looked like you had it totally under control…or they were dicks.

  • Lori

    This post reminded me, in an opposite way, of a “kind of nice” thing that happened to me at Penn Station in NYC several years ago. The one elevator that serves all of Penn Station was out of service, as usual, and I was standing at the top of the stairs struggling to get my toddler out of the stroller, fold the stroller and then attempt to carry said toddler, stroller and a suitcase down the stairs. Not one, but several people asked if they could help and one guy grabbed the stroller and just carried it down to the bottom of the stairs. So I realized that not all people are dicks, though there certainly are plenty of them around.

  • Tim

    Just so I’m not the first entirely off-topic post:

    I’m a 40+ year old father of 3 who was raised to offer to help out. Quite often when I do, the people I offer to help out look like I’ve grabbed their children and started running in the opposite direction. It’s hard to keep fighting that, but next time, I’m going to try again, even though it might make me uncomfortable.

    Yesterday, I was walking behind a woman and her ?6?-year-old kid. He was trying to ride a bike with the seat set way too low for him (his knees were hitting his chest). She and I happened to share a day care, so I thought it might be okay to offer to reset the seat for his size. My offer was not accepted. Probably my fault; it’s hard not to come across as a know-it-all . . .

    A bit more off-topic:

    What deal with the devil have you made?

    You posted on a public website. You had 45 comments, in 2 days, so you’re not posting just to your family and friends.

    Not a single jerk. Not a single one talking about the problem with your politics. Not a single one mentioned some random off-topic theory about what was wrong with the world.

    Jeesh, nobody even picked apart the grammar of a previous poster.

    Even the one (slight) disagreement was civilized and stayed germane.

    They all had interesting things to say– not a “me, too!” in the bunch. Some of the stories they told were as interesting as the original post (and that was a HIGH bar!).

    I’ve been reading this for awhile; but it was only today that I realized this is one of two places on the Internet where I read the comments, as well as the posts.


    • renegademama

      Agree, Tim! I have long believed that some of the most sane, thoughtful and generally badass humans have somehow gathered on this blog. It’s a work of art. And I publish all the comments! (You aren’t seeing an edited version.) The only time I don’t publish a comment is if it attacks my children or husband.

      I think we should start a camp.

  • Jelena

    “But I made a decision right then and there that the next time I see some human struggling, I’m going to help her. I probably would anyway, but from now on it’s a self-imposed requirement. And I’m going to make my kids help strangers when it’s obvious they could use a hand. We live in a community. When the fuck are we all going to act like it?”

    This is perfect point which shows how mother is thinking. You’re one inspiring lady.

  • Heather in Oregon

    I would have been right there helping.

    When my son was 2mos old and my daughter 2 I had (one of many to follow) of those days in our local WinCo. For those of who who don’t know, you bag your own groceries there. Full cart, haven’t made it to the store in weeks, milk leaking out of my excruciatingly full breasts, a hot screaming bloody murder baby in the carrier,toddler trying to launch herself out of the cart, and it all happens right at the check stand. Except I got lucky that time- an older man saw what was happening and came over, started bagging my groceries, entertained my toddler while I was paying (baby still screaming), and took my groceries to the car and loaded them. It made my month. And seriously over 6yrs later it kinda makes me tear up and I don’t exactly cry at the drop of a hat. That simple act of kindness made all the difference.

    4 years later I’m at a music festival with my husband and children. Daughter, now 6, is doing the squirrel on crack thing and it’s clearly time to leave. Husband takes son to his truck and they leave as son is falling asleep on his feet. Daughter proceeds to throw a full scale tantrum. This is a nearly 50lb 6yr old screaming at the top of her lungs. I have all of our stuff and I’m trying to carry her, arching, flailing, screaming, and the stuff. All 100+ people in the immediate vicinity are just staring, many open mouthed and some obviously commenting on it. Finally, 20min later because that’s how long it took me to walk 200yds, a friend who had been elsewhere for most of this saw what was happening and helped.

    I want to think the best of most people and assume that rather than not wanting to help they simply don’t know what to do or are worried about offending someone, but honestly I think a lot of them are just dicks.

  • Aimee

    This reinforces my theory that there must be a universal Costco behaviour-altering forcefield that people walk through. This forcefield creates a zone wherein people forget all manners, humanity, and social grace.

    I shop there too, in Canada, and people are dicks there as well. I swear people have tried to hit me and my cart. The cart with my child in it.

    I like to think I would have at least offered to help, had I been there. Or smiled. Or both. Because I hold firm to the “don’t be a dick” life philosophy.

  • Joanna

    I have 4 kids and this scenario is very familiar. I wonder if you live where I live. Except its 112 degrees here…I swear the next person that glares at me and shakes their head will get the beating they think my kids need.

  • Emma

    Wil Wheaton’s catchphrase/motto/whatever these days is “Don’t be a dick.” You guys should be friends. I bet the Bloggess could introduce you, and if you don’t know her, you definitely should.

  • Rebecca

    I can’t believe no one helped you. I only have child, a one year old,and people offer to help me all the time when it’s obvious I’m struggling.

    People can be such jerks.

  • Teri

    I’ve been following this blog for years (my baby is now 16) but, this struck a note with me. I remember those days, and I remember feeling like “I’ve GOT this”, then the “would somebody PLEASE lend a hand” and fervent prayers to have a prehensile tail sprout out of my ass so I could manage just a little more easily.

    I promise to all of you mothers with small children and babies that when I see you struggling in a store or other public venue, that I will smile and ask you very nicely if I can lend a hand. Then I will proceed with whatever form of help you require (except breastfeeding. that ship has sailed.) I can entertain small children, hold babies, load black conveyor belt thingies, etc.

    I’ve been there and nobody want to ask for help. but sometimes you need a kindness. I promise.

    Keep it coming, Janelle. We will make this a better world…one dick at a time!

  • Kristen Mae of Abandoning Pretense

    I would have helped. You know how I know? Because I *have* helped. =)

  • Nathalie

    O.M.EFFIN.GOODNESS…O.K. I’ve been reading your story the last couple of days. New here. I have to say…You are amazing!

    Yeah, teach ’em to help. Yeah, go ahead and teach ’em, the things we so long have been conditioned to ignore…to ignore to be human. Go ahead…and teach ’em. I’m trying to teach mine. But as withswa2q1 mine, right now, with all of my efforts, who know my sciatica is in full force (not their fault B.T.F.W.), but I need help from them (pick up your mess, don’t ask me for 50 things within 5 minutes, because it hurts every time I stand up…and they forget ALL of helping others…immediately. WHY??? Because I guess I’m their Fucking Cinderella of a mother??? I’m not even capitalizing the word “Mother”, because I feel I’m the same category of the untouched in India…those who cart around the elite’s SHIT! I’m a single mother, and I’m O.K. with that, but if we don’t have each other, then what do we have??? Absolutely.Fucking.Nothing!!! Just like in society.WE.ONLY.HAVE.EAACH.OTHER…let’s be nice to each other, and help each other…GEEZ, what a great lesson to teach to children – a lesson much lost 🙁

    Sending sooo much love to a lovely lady!

  • Bernadette

    I would have helped you. About 20 years ago, I was in the checkout line a couple people behind a woman who’s infant was squalling while the mom tried to bag groceries.

    I did nothing. Looked away, embarrassed for the woman. But now I understand I was really embarrassed for all the people (myself included) who witnessed this and didn’t offer to help. The least I could have done was bag the woman’s groceries so she could sit with her baby and soothe it.

    It’s haunted me all these years.

    Thank you for talking about it. People can be jerks. Sometimes intentionally. Sometimes not.

    Love your blog. So honest and refreshing and authentic.

  • Sassy Kas

    I believe in the village. I do, I do, I do. But I am sad to report as many times as I have afforded relief to some harried parent or struggling elder, I have been rebuffed in the “mind yer own bizness” way just as many. America could just make up our minds to truly be a village and do the decent thing and help out our fellow beings and admit “self-sufficiency” is a myth. Couldn’t we?

  • Sam Pereira

    I can’t ask for help. And when it’s offered and I’m clearly struggling, and perhaps just keeping it together, I decline. Stupid! There are no prizes for just barely making it through, all by yourself. I really need to work on this. I promise to accept help next time it’s offered.
    If it’s offered.

  • Dana P

    I had to travel to Mexico alone with my toddler for my wedding (long story). I was struggling through the Milwaukee airport with a stroller and two large suitcases while carrying my child and not a single person offered to help. One guy even had he nerve to say “wow, Mom has her hands full!” and kept walking. Fucking dicks.

  • Aria Alpert Adjani

    when i was young i was a self involved depressed sarcastic cunt. aka dick. no doubt. pisses me off to even reflect on it but whatever it was the truth. nothing i can do about it now just thrilled i didn’t turn into one when i grew up. and now that I have kids I, not only help my kids, but help anyone else that need. even if I have an inconsolable wailing newborn strapped to my chest and a crazy crazy toddler running around – I will STILL fucking help. And I bet most mama’s do. cause that’s what we do. we help everyone else first while our back is breaking and we’re starving and exhausted and dirty and stink and haven’t taken a shit in peace since who knows when.

  • liz Horton

    Yup. I have had that moment so many times since my third. I have handed her to so many complete strangers over the past year and a half so that I could deal with my other maniacs. I love people who come over an ask if they can help. In fact, just tonight, a kind grandfatherly man came over and held her in a restaurant so that my husband and I could deal with the other two. Even together we are clearly overwhelmed.

    • Liz horton

      I want to add that sometimes I shamelessly ask for help. I have yet to have someone say no. I would like to believe it is because they just didn’t know how to help or didn’t think to ask rather than not wanting to out themselves as a dick. But frankly, I don’t care because I am getting the help I need.

  • Julie

    I have these moments when i see people who need help, and sometimes i offer help and sometimes i don`t. But i did notice this, sometimes you`re on the other side of this situation (the helper vs the helpless i guess) and you try to help and people look at you like your a freak maniac and then you feel like shit for the rest of the day… its weird how far this lonely north american behaviour of -me, myself and i- can go, and its upsetting for both sides. When you do help and someone responds well, it feels great to get out of your comfort zone to do the right thing. I hope next time a gentle soul will be there and sense your need for a hand… I know these people exist but they are rare, sadly…

  • LaToya

    They probably didn’t help because they didn’t even know you needed help. It’s hard to be in tune with the world when your looking down at your cellphone on SOCIAL MEDIA constantly. Seriously, have you ever noticed how people rarely look at one another anymore?

    (I am guilty too.)

    We really need to get out of ourselves and communicate with each other. I’m so sorry you had to go through that. Someone should have helped you out! 3

  • LaToya

    They probably didn’t help because they didn’t even know you needed help. It’s hard to be in tune with the world when your looking down at your cellphone on SOCIAL MEDIA constantly. Seriously, have you ever noticed how people rarely look at one another anymore?

    (I am guilty too.)

    We really need to get out of ourselves and communicate with each other. I’m so sorry you had to go through that. Someone should have helped you out! 3

  • Kelly

    I helped an elderly woman who was clearly having trouble load the conveyor belt one day. When I asked her if I could help her, she started to cry because she was so happy. It really is the little things.

  • Andrea

    Hey there – besides the helping, there’s the defending. When mothers look at me apologetically I always assure them I’m not in a hurry. And when snotty customers or clerks make comments “under their breath” I give them hell. Sometimes you need reassurance that your chaos is normal as much as you need help managing it.

  • Dee

    I’ve helped many mamas in this exact same scenario while showering them and their kids with compliments as I occasionally glare at the assholes who are glaring at them. There are good people in the world but they usually aren’t at superstores unfortunately.

  • Rosanna

    Yes! Thank you for saying all of that and expressing it in such a real way. I’ve got three girls, three years apart, and it never fails: you have to get things done and sometimes that means taking your kids with you to run all of these errands. 9 times out of 10, I find myself fighting a panic attack because they decide to act out/up right around that time when you get to the register. In my experience, people don’t help because they really are too busy being judgy in that way. Those good-hearted folks who watch on sympathetically also stress me out because they can never really understand the effort it takes to keep it together when you’re at the center of that hot stressful mess! The worst are those folks who like to give advice and insights in that moment of my on-display chaos. Total problem. We should plan nation-wide flash mobs. Instead of dancing and all that fun stuff, we should just schedule collective trips to the store and have an all out wailing blow out in line.

  • Ani

    I love your blog Janelle and I hope you never stop writing. I wish I had read some of your stuff before I had my son, it would have helped me through that awful newborn blob stage. At any rate, thanks, so much.
    I live in Thailand and here people are so much the opposite of there (I am from Cali). For example, they don’t have high chairs in restaurants, the waitress or owner will hold your baby for you while you eat. I can’t tell you how many times a complete stranger has come up and grabbed my screaming child from my overwhelmed hands to settle him.
    Thank you for reminding me to be a better person when I go back to ‘Mercia!

  • krisztina

    I’m so sorry! That was a terribly sad story.i try to help. And i remember my first airplane trip with my first kid. He was 5 months old.on the plane there i held him the whole time. Because the flight attendants took away the carseat so i could not put him down for the 10 hours until we got onto our next plane. On the Hungarian plane everybody helped. And on the way out people carried my stuff. Lifted/carried the stroller for me. The difference between usa and hungary in helping somebody with small children striking. I don’t think i ever want to get used to it.

  • Michelle Olson

    There’s actually a movement already afoot! Check out Emily Yates on Facebook and Youtube!

  • Emily Yates

    You’re in luck – I’ve already started the Global Try Not To Be A Dick Movement. There’s a song, and stickers and stuff. Here’s a video of me performing the song: Let me know if you want a sticker or few!

  • Ann

    I agree. Come to VT. I have 4 myself, 12 to 3 in age, and am the local car seat lady, so frequently insert myself into people’s business, like say, in the checkout line at cosco where I see a grandmother making a really big car seat mistake/purchase. (Who, btw, purchased only one of the dread mistakes.)

    Folks don’t want to talk to strangers, as a general rule, because, well, strangers are scary! Stranger danger and all that. But hell, tack on some personal stuff, like what you do and where you work, and folks are all like…look at my kid! Come on back to the car and see if I’m doing my car seat right. They’ll hand you babies and all sorts of equipment, but you’ve got to be a not-a-stranger to them anymore.

  • l

    i’m not a mom and i am in california, but, pinky swear, i would have helped you.

    and if my friend r had been there, he would have helped you. he is always, always helping people. sometimes i think he’s bugging people by telling them how to find the best roast chicken at costco, or whatever — the guy is quite a talker — but they seem to love it.

    but yes, there are a lot of dicks out there. i also think a lot of people are just oblivious and not intentionally being dicks. for some reason, unintentional dickness is easier to take.

    (found you when googling lemons as deodorant. love your snarkiness. you rock.)

  • Paulina Maldonado-Gomez

    Did you ask for help? I think North Americans are very helpful, but in a place like Costco–everyone has something else on their minds–(Will my card go through? Do I have everything? I hope Mom’s okay., etc.)–so you can’t expect them to read your mind.
    Also, many people are reluctant about approaching someone from another race or social class.

  • Erica Smith


    So I’m relatively new to all this blogging shennanigans, and really began as I’m in the early stages of setting up a business. I have been trawling through parenting and mummy blogs feeling pretty nauseous and close to developing diabetes… you, my friend, are just what I’ve been looking for! Thank. Fuck.

    I don’t know how/when/ or why we lost our sense of decency. It’s amazing how far a small act of kindness will travel. And you’re right: If everyone does their bit it may just become the norm.

    Love from New Zealand xx

  • Kateri Von Steal

    🙁 Oh that’s super shitty.

    And I’ve been on both sides of that.. needing an extra hand, and watching it go down.

    I always help. I always distract the children… by smiling or talking to them.. while mom (or sometimes an overwhelmed) dad gets their shit together… Because it sucks being ALONE in the grocery store with a massive line.. with CHILDREN who are… just being tired kids.

    The attention from a stranger always seems to work, and I am so sorry that someone behind you in line, wasn’t a parent or had a heart to help you. It’s wrong.

    And anyone who says something negative in these comments needs to understand… that sometimes PARENTING ISN”T FUCKING RAINBOWS and UNICORNS… Stress happens all around, and we got to help each other out. Even for a brief moment… even if we, ourselves, are on the brink of exhaustion as well.

  • beth

    i’m the one that ALWAYS AND I MEAN ALWAYS helps someone in need. I am not a dick. the people who shop when i shop, are dicks.nobody says, excuse me..they just ram my cart or walk right in front of me while i’m looking at something. i was raised not to be a dick. my kids are not dicks. the whole apple not far from the tree thing. proud to not be a dick in a very dick filled world. sorry nobody helped you. i totally would have!!!

  • EbyKat

    I am not a mom, but I have seen this and I have helped. I work security at a clinic. Most of my day is pretty much just me walking in circles. On this day a woman and her 4 children were trying to get inside. The two older ones were waiting near the main doors. She was holding her youngest (the reason she was there) while her remaining child was proceeding to have a full on shit fit in the van.
    I adore kids and when the time is right I am sure I will be a mom, but even having none of my own I knew. KNEW. This woman needed help and I was going to be damned if I was going to let her drown without at least offering.
    Cue me asking and her accepting. Mostly the kiddo calmed down once he saw me due to being startled out of his fit, but once inside I snagged a book about dinosaurs for him to be further distracted by. I saw the relief in her eyes.

    Ask people. Just ask. My introversion has helped me teach myself to ask for help more. You can be sure of never getting what you never ask for.

  • Barb

    I thought of this post a few days ago. I took my son to do some groceries – we were on the bike (he’s got a seat that I drag him around on.) I bought too many groceries…tried to balance the bags on the handle bars and ride home, but the bags were unbalanced, so I had 2 options: Let him out while I reorganize and then he’s not trapped, which means I have to keep him from running out into the street…Or, Leave him in the seat and try to repack the bags while also holding the bike upright or else it will tip over and he’ll fall. I opted to to keep him in the seat and I was managing alright, though it was quite the scene if you passed by…groceries everywhere on the sidewalk and my son starting to get impatient because we’re not moving…I had it sorted but I couldn’t pick up my back pack with 1 hand and put it on while also holding the bike – the backpack was just too heavy). AND THEN: I heard someone, a man: “Can I hold your bike for youwhile you put the bags on?”
    YES!!! YES!! YES!! I was shocked someone offered to help, but I was sooo relieved. And I thought of this post. 🙂
    Maybe he read it?

  • Suzanne

    I would have wanted to help, but I probably would have had no clue where to start, or how to do it without jumping in and man-handling a stranger’s kids, which some people get all weird about. So I probably would have stood there and stared and felt bad about it, or worried I’d offend you if I offered to help (like I’m insulting your parenting skills). I’ll guess I’ll ignore all that and offer to help next time I see a mom or dad sinking!

  • Jenna

    I’ve been that lady in Costco. Well, Sam’s, because Midwest.

    I need to vow to help more. I do. Because I sure could have used it a time or twelve.

    (I’m slow, but I’m just now getting around to subscribing to my fellow VOTY readers’ blogs. I look forward to reading more of you words on the regular.) (And not being a dick.)

  • Liz Henry

    I’m the kind of mom that purposely stands behind the WIC mom as a kind of “been there” force field so WIC mom won’t see the dickheads eye-rolling. Take your time, mom. If I saw someone overwhelmed, I’d help. Totally.

  • Tupla

    I do think it’s a North American problem. This is the kind of thing that has always horrified me in North America. I lived both in Canada and in the US, and in both places I felt that often when you do try to help, especially if it’s a child, you get this “mind your own business” attitude, as someone noticed in the comments above. I’m now back in Israel (where I grew up), and you feel the contrast so strongly here. There is a very strong sense of community here, and the overall feeling here is “these are all our children”, which means people offer help without asking, and it’s perfectly normal for an adult both to help someone else’s child and to scold them/educate them if they do something wrong (also a no-no in North American society).

  • Claudine

    “squirrel on crack” – Brilliant. You completely capture the essence of motherhood. As far as the “try not to be a dick” movement goes. I’m in, over here on the East Coast. Word.