A Lesson Learned

This morning, I went shopping with both girls to six different stores.

 

My day had already started off on the wrong foot — Lacy woke up several times last night (meaning I didn’t get nearly enough sleep), and Nick, who usually stays home for me while Lily naps during my regular Tuesday afternoon grocery shopping trip, had to schedule a meeting during that time — and we still needed, you know, food to eat.

Not only was I taking the girls for three hours worth of shopping, but I was also attempting to complete it before their afternoon naps. It was risky, to say the least, so I took a deep breath and plunged into uncertainty. They’re pretty good kids, but they’ve both certainly had their fair-share of meltdowns — which, any parent can attest, is pretty darn stressful in public situations, but I decided not to let those thoughts get to me. Instead, I redirected my attitude of nervousness, anxiety, and the innate need to rush through my errands to… restfulness.

Rest is something I’ve been working on, reading about, and just plain trying to implement for, honestly? The past three years. You’d think relaxation would just come naturally, but I’m still learning how to do it. Nick and I set aside a day a week to rest, recharge, do something fun, spend time together, not plan anything, and just go with the flow. It recharges the soul — but it’s hard to stop or slow down one day when you’re moving a million miles a minute the rest of the week.

So I decided not to rush. I decided not to overthink the situation. I decided to just enjoy the time I had with the girls, stick to my list (so it wasn’t complete chaos), and take my time.

The first two stops went just fine, but I was starting to get nervous on my way to stop #3. Many would agree that three stores is all they can squeeze out when they have kiddos in tow, and my kids are no exception; not to mention Lily was falling asleep on the way, which could mean a cranky toddler in the store, but I again left my anxiety to the curb and hoped for the best.

Lily did great, mostly because it was Costco which meant free food in the form of samples. I mean, come on, eating and shopping? That’s basically cheating.

As we wandered over to the checkout, still munching on our free samples, I was abruptly halted by a saleswoman pawning for my attention.

I don’t like sales people, I really don’t. They are specifically trained to target the weak — I’m convinced — and I am one of them. I’ve avoided them at all costs ever since my sister was suckered into buying an expensive nail kit by a mall-salesman years ago, which I probably would have done too if it weren’t for the example she set.

Before I knew it, I was knee deep into her sales pitch. I have a terrible poker face, so I know she could read my annoyed expression — but I think salespeople feed off the disdain of the customers they ensnare into their sales trap. I found myself thinking “Maybe if I just cut her off and tell her I’m not interested I’ll be able to get away,” but I was quickly reminded of my mindset for the day — rest, specifically not rushing. Yes, I could blow her off and she probably wouldn’t even think twice about it because I’m sure she gets that all the time, but I decided to stay and listen to her spiel, resolving to myself that although I knew I would not buy it, I would listen to her and treat her like a human being.

And she was good — tried every trick in the sales book: asked me questions to make it personal, put the product in my hands so I could tangibly feel it, explained to me just how good of an exclusive deal it was. Honestly, I was impressed by how well-trained she was. She didn’t look much older than me and didn’t stumble over her words once.

And if I’m being totally honest, it was a good product. It really did work, and had it been $50 cheaper, I probably would have bought it. I told her how much my mother-in-law would like the product, how I’d tell my husband about it when I got home, even asked her if she used it herself. I usually nervously fudge through sentences when I talk to sales people, but because I wasn’t in a mad dash to get out of the conversation, I was given the opportunity to really encourage this girl. I told her what a good job she did, and that I was impressed by her ability to sell her product — no matter how many people you tell something like that to, you will always see their spirits lifted. Had I not had my attitude of rest, I would have never had the opportunity to see that girl’s face light up the way it did.

My experience with that sales girl wasn’t the only product of taking things slow — because I wasn’t sprinting into store #4, I saw a friend of mine I hadn’t seen in nearly a year loading her son into her car. I’m ashamed to admit for a split second I still had that pesky thought telling me to keep walking since I didn’t have the time, but I quickly dismissed it and said hello. It was so nice to talk to her and her daughter — I love those timeless friends that you can still have a great conversation with regardless of the time that‘s lapsed between then and the last time you were together!

Before I knew it, we were at stop #6 — and because I had thought ahead, stop #6 consisted of merely picking up an order. No wrestling kids in and out of the car is a major win for this mama.

I found it a little ironic sitting in my car waiting for the store employee with this restful mindset lingering; the whole point of grocery pickup is to save you time, but is it really time saved? Or is it time replaced? Who actually takes the time they saved shopping online to just rest? Usually the time saved is simply replaced with some other thing to add to the schedule, often filling the day with more than can be handled, throwing oneself again into the rabbit hole of rushing. So there I was, resolved not to speed in and out like I have better things to do, and just be. The irony was potent.

The lady who brought out my groceries for me was very kind and sweet, as opposed to some who are rushing just as much as I normally am to get through the order, often with a dismal attitude and obligatory hello.

As she loaded my groceries into my car, she stopped for a brief second and commented on the glass bottle of milk I had purchased. It’s expensive stuff: $5 for a half gallon, and that’s not even including the $2 bottle deposit. But it’s worth it in my opinion — I could go on and on about how low-pasteurized milk is the way to go, but I’ll save you my sales pitch.

“I love the bottle,” she said.
“It’s the only milk I buy! It’s just better, I think,” I replied.

That brief exchange then led to a sweet conversation with this unsuspecting lady about how she used to own a dairy farm with over 1,500 cows — a story I’d love to hear more about some day. Our conversation was much too short, but I greatly enjoyed it. Had I been rushing, I probably would have just dismissed her comment on the milk bottle and missed out on talking with a lady that had one fascinating story.

 

Rest takes intentionally, and even if I’m being intentional, I still have to remind myself again and again. But the reward is huge — even more than I expected. Not only did my slowing down afford me three wonderful, spirit-lifting conversations with three different ladies, but I think my girls appreciated having a mom that wasn’t stressed. Often times I find my disposition rubs off on them more than I’d like it to, whether in the form of irritability or the like. It seems that just simply being present and not demanding of them to move or do something quicker is life-giving to their little souls, and it’s no different with my own. By releasing the demands I place on myself to rush to accomplish as many things as I possibly can as efficiently as possible, I am gifted the ability to be present over my idea of perfect — and it’s life-giving to my soul, too.

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