We are taught to fear strangers, and we teach our kids to fear strangers. But there are some people we need to help us parent, and we barely know them at all.
Parenting SPM/MM

The 6 Strangers I Could Not Parent Without

We are taught to fear strangers, and we teach our kids to fear strangers. But there are some people we need to help us parent, and we barely know them at all.

By Christina Dunn of Stay at Home Mom With No Job

Stranger danger. So real, yet to me, so irrelevant. After using as much good judgement as I can bestow, on a daily basis, I completely embrace and fully appreciate any stranger who is willing to assist me with my children. In fact, there are moments, days even, where I could not parent without them.

The grocery store employees who assist me to my car

This practice began during the end of my first pregnancy, and these magical people have stayed with me through some very difficult grocery store-based phases of my life. This offer is accepted by me, and is very much appreciated even now, during what may be for them, the most annoying phase: two toddlers in the double steering wheel cart.

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Someone who’s never had this pleasurable experience might wonder how much could possibly unfold between checkout and cart return. Between managing the diaper bag, the one child who inevitably found their way OUT of the cart, and fumbling to find my car keys all while explaining to my two-year-old that the electronic lottery machine is actually not a big phone, the journey can be exhausting. These employees make this trek with a smile on their faces, help me unload my groceries without verbal judgement regarding the state of the trunk of my car, and even take my cart back in so I don’t have to abandon my screaming children. It is a thankless task, and it is everything to me.

The child-watch employees at the gym

I leave my kids at this sanctuary while I work out for an hour a couple of times a week. To me, these people are “Miss,” and to them, I am “Mom.” I don’t know their backgrounds. Maybe they are former child care professionals with prior experience teaching and entertaining children, or maybe they have never seen a blowout in their lives. It actually doesn’t matter. They are, to me, strangers. This is a little scary, but hey, parenting is a little scary. I am also scary when I haven’t had a break from the kids in four days, as are they when they haven’t had to take direction from another adult or behave in a socially acceptable manner among other tiny humans. They get to play in a setting that is not the living room. I get to leg press.

The stranger who confuses my child into good behavior

It doesn’t take a mom of four to perceive an impending toddler meltdown or injury. Most people, including me in my pre-parental state of arrogance and ignorance, do their best to avoid these situations at all costs. It takes a truly virtuous person to confront my child, head on, and confuse them into forgetting all of their toddler troubles.

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There was a time when my two-year old, at some store at some point, was jumping up and down in the cart. I was tending to the baby while also trying to pay attention to the pharmacist, and half-assed was telling him to please stop. We both knew he knew my hands were tied. A man walked up, assessed the situation, looked my toddler in the eye and said, “You tap dancing there, son? Not the best place for it; better to be safe and sit on down.” #thankful.

The pediatrician’s office

They are a wonderful and special breed of human beings to even agree to be employed there. I would rather pull my toe nails off than come in contact with the number of sick and highly distressed children they do in a day.

When I found myself in a situation where my screaming baby had to be cut out of his car seat because the buckle jammed in their parking lot, they came to my rescue by removing the entire thing from the car in one impressive motion, distracted my toddler during the whole debacle, were nice enough to give me a loaner, and installed it back in my car like a boss so that I could drive straight to Nordstrom and give them hell. They were team me that day. I will never say another bad thing about the ped’s office, even if there is an 84% chance that at our next well check we leave with croup.

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The employees at kid-scheduled activities

There are days where just getting to our scheduled activity on time, kids fed with pants on, is truly the battle. These chipper and patient individuals complete the task of singing, dancing, and leading my children for an hour as if they weren’t underpaid and as though they actually enjoy making hand puppets dance as they belt the shit out of Old McDonald.

Strangers who give unsolicited verbal support

I’m not talking about the person who hurriedly strides past in the parking lot as I’m hushing a crying baby while answering 20 toddler questions and says, “It gets easier.” Although, during my dark periods, I may have found this comforting. I’m not talking about unsolicited advice, which moms need like a headache, so prevalent, yet so unnecessary. I’m talking about truth and support, from real people we don’t know and will likely never see again. It only takes a few meaningful words to give us moms the assurance we can’t give ourselves. There was a woman who looked at me once, clearly seeing the exhaustion, understanding the struggle, and without judgement and with a small smile, said, “You’ll be okay.” She was so right. 

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About the Author

I am a Stay at Home Mom of two awesome little boys and two elderly chihuahuas residing in Charlotte, NC. I have a Master’s Degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology and a background in Insurance. My writing has been featured on Scary Mommy and Her View From Home. When I am not taking care of small bodies, I enjoy trying to take care of my own by cooking Italian food, and drinking wine while I do it. https://stayathomemomwithnojob.com/ https://www.instagram.com/stayathomemomwithnojob/