Dear Mom At Target

“I was complimented once on my parenting skills when I was out with my ‘neurotypical’ kiddo. I told the woman she wouldn’t be saying it if I were with my other 2 kids. But thanked her anyway! I always make a point to make eye contact with the struggling moms at the store…give them a “hang in there” been there done that…whatever. Just an understanding smile goes a long way.” –  A Facebook comment from a fellow mommy in response to Mommy Guilt, Public Judgement, and Grace

I have been thinking about this sweet momma’s words all week.

How often am I missing opportunities to support and encourage other moms who are experiencing the same thing I feel when out in public with my two boys?  I have also been reminded of too many missed opportunities. I remember so many situations and  harried moms I have seen in Target alone over the past few years. I would’ve been helpful. I would’ve been encouraging.

Although I can’t turn back time and reach out, I thought I might use this post as a do-over.

Here is what I wish I could say to all those women in Target…


Dear Mom at Target

Dear Mom at Target,

I saw the look on your face when your daughter said she wanted that too tight, too short, over my dead body are you wearing that anywhere skirt. Protecting her from herself has got to be frustrating at best. I would just like to say, you are awesome. You are doing a great job. Do not grow weary of doing good. It matters.

Dear Mom at Target,

That man was way out of line. You have four beautiful children and another one on the way. You are blessed! I still cannot believe he actually said, “Do you not know there are ways to prevent this many kids?” I would just like to say, your babies are darling. Shame on anyone who can’t see the blessing and hope in them. Do not grow weary of doing good. It matters.

Dear Mom at Target,

You looked a little pale as you walked out the door to the parking lot with at least 9 shopping bags when you only came in for toothpaste and apple juice. Don’t worry. You can return it tomorrow, or pinch pennies somewhere else in the budget. It will be OK. I would just like to say, you can try again next time. That’s how it works. We have the best intentions and plans, and then sometimes we just don’t follow through. Do not grow weary of doing good. It matters.

Dear Mom at Target,

You looked so sad and so concerned when your son came up and sat down in the chair I was trying to hold up to the cashier so she could scan it. Please don’t be worried or feel bad. I thought he was great. I thought he was beautiful. I was prepared to leave that chair there for as long as he wanted to sit in it. I was for sure going to let all the people standing in line behind me deal with it too.

He loved the fabric and kept running his hands over it, smiling a big toothy grin. He has good taste. I love that fabric too. I would just like to say, it made my heart hurt that you thought my reaction would be judgement or anger. I understand. My son is uniquely challenged just like yours. I have nothing but respect and admiration for the fact that you even made it through a Target trip with him. Do not grow weary of doing good. It matters.

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Dear Mom at Target,

I saw that look of shame on your face when you had to put back the yogurt. The bill was just a little higher than you expected. I saw your anxiety when the people behind you in line got impatient while you carefully handed the cashier all those coupons. I would just like to say, I think you are stewarding well what God has given you. There is no shame in managing your money and being self disciplined enough to stay on budget. You are doing a great job. Do not grow weary of doing good. It matters.

Dear Mom at Target,

I saw your son throw that Connect 4 game. I saw it hit that sweet old lady.

wait, this one was me. Let me write this letter instead.

Dear Little Lady at Target,

Oh my goodness, I can’t believe that happened. I still feel a little nauseous just thinking about it.

My son was melting down, but I didn’t know it. I wouldn’t have him seen for a sensory processing diagnosis and start treatment for another year.

Please let me start by saying, I am so very sorry it was you that got clocked by that game. It just wasn’t fair (maybe if you were one of the guys that used to make fun of my clothes in seventh grade it would seem more equitable…). More than that, you were such a blessing to me that day.

You had every right to be offended and angry. You had every right to yell at me, and him, and maybe call the manager or security. But you didn’t. You chose instead to smile, graciously shake off the pain and the shock, and say instead, “He is a boy. I had three myself. Hang in there. Do not grow weary of doing good. It matters.”

Sweet little lady at Target, I want to be you. I want all of us mommas barely keeping it together at Target to be you – helping, encouraging, shaking off the judgement and the pain…choosing grace and love instead.

 “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

This post originally appeared here on Not The Former Things in June of 2014.


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  1. I love this post. I have many times pushed a grocery cart with three kids in it and groceries piled on the bottom, with my moderately autistic son yelling like chewbaca. lol People do look at special needs children as though they are an alien from planet nebula or something like that. The look on some of their faces is of sheer disgust. I’ve heard many a comment as I passed by as to why I don’t “spank that boy for making such noise”. It pains me to think of how hurtful people can be with a look or their words. Thank you for your kind words of encouragement. I still take them shopping, and yep we always leave a wave of anxiety behind us, as well as a smile on my face. 🙂

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