I see the beads of sweat running across your forehead as you push the giant cart, which houses the wiggly bodies of your three babes, through the aisles, as you scan and search for sensitive baby wipes while trying not to knock down the display of sunless tanner.
I see you offer snack after snack to your two older children, attempting to appease them while you rush through the store in search of all the necessities you came for. Long gone are the days of leisurely browsing for the latest holiday decor or deal-of-the-decade maxi dress. You are on a mission, and you move stealthily and swiftly past the newest trendy necklace as your eyes land on the highly coveted hand sanitizer.
I see you replace the paci, over and over, for your baby, who fusses with fatigue while fighting off a much-needed nap.
I see your children dressed in adorable summer attire, with freshly cut and styled hair, while you wear workout clothes, old running shoes, a messy ponytail, and day-old mascara.
I hear you saying again and again "Not this time," "You have plenty of toys," and "We don't need that" as request after request is made as you enter each new aisle.
I hear you shushing your babe, quietly reminding him over and over that it's nap time while doing your best to calmly insist upon this fact.
I hear you pulling out snack wrappers and sippy cups and diapers and wipes and burp cloths and keys and baby toys and changing pads as you search your endless diaper bag for the shopping list you very quickly wrote out at a stoplight on the way to the store.
I hear you kindly saying, "Hello!" and offering a warm smile to another momma, pushing her first and only baby in a store cart while appearing dazed and a little lost.
I know you are hoping and praying and crossing your fingers you can get in and out of this shopping experience without a tantrum or breastfeeding break or argument or tears, and maybe, just possibly, actually finding everything on your shopping list.
I know you worry you are inconveniencing others, as you push the train-sized cart through the aisles, taking up every inch of space; as you steal precious cashier time while searching for your Cartwheel app on your app-filled phone and try, for the love of God, to remember your password; as you hurry to load all bags and children into your SUV with lightning speed in order to give up your primo parking spot for the car awaiting with his blinker impatiently urging you on.
I know you question whether this trip to the store was worth it: the frustration of balancing the wants and needs of your children simultaneously while also crossing each item off your list, all the while in the company of happy-go-lucky customers who shop with ease and remark a little too often, "My! You have your hands full!"
I see the adoration you have in your eyes for your children. They are your world, your life, and that is immediately evident to anyone who glances at you for even the slightest of moments.
I hear your son spontaneously tell you, while standing in the checkout aisle, that you're the best mom in the whole world. In his eyes, you are. And that's the best compliment you will ever receive.
I know that the things in your cart are things your children need--diapers and wipes and sunscreen and alphabet books and tear-free shampoo and princess bandaids. Your job is to protect them and teach them and love them with all your heart. The contents of your cart are evidence that you take this job seriously (And I also notice that you snuck in a little surprise for them. Because you are a Momma, and you undoubtedly love seeing their faces light up when they are praised and rewarded for even the smallest of accomplishments).
To them, Momma in Target, you are their world. And don't ever forget to see, hear, and know that.