I stop at a grocery store in Yreka, California to buy something for breakfast. At the cash register, the young man ahead of me gasps in relief as he dumps an armload of cantaloupes onto the conveyor belt. The cashier quickly rings them up. $10.70. “Dang,” he says. He only has a wrinkled ten-dollar bill. In the pregnant pause, I whip a dollar bill out of my wallet. “Here,” I say. The checker takes it, gives me 30 cents change. The kid mumbles “thanks” and moves on. The checker also says, “Thanks.” I feel like a mom, quickly seeing the problem and jumping in to help. Who’s to know I’m not a mother, that my kids don’t go to school with this kid? I walk out feeling happy.
Speaking of kids with problems, I just finished reading Debra Gwartney’s Live Through This. It’s the painful story of how her two oldest daughters became more and more out of control. Drugs, suicide attempts and nights when they didn’t come home led to their running way and living on the streets for long periods of time while their mom went crazy trying to find them, hoping they weren’t dead. I would hope that any of us, mothers or not, would do what we can to help any kid in trouble. As women, I think we’re all mothers at large. When we can, we should help, whether it’s a runaway who needs something to eat or a teenager who’s short 70 cents at the grocery store.
Can you think of times you have acted as a mother for someone else’s child?