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The bittersweet kindness of strangers

I had an experience today and I feel somehow that others might be able to relate..on a number of levels.

fall daisy and sunshine

fall daisy

So my oven died a month ago, just the baking element on the bottom with the burners still working but there has been no baking in this house for a while now (not that my kids are crying over that, my cookies are usually burnt and they call my bread "mom's lead bread") however that is not the point.  The point is that because I rent, it should be my landlord's responsibility to get me a new oven, right?? His response: "No, I don't think so, I would rather you just bought your own".  Hmmm.

There are lots of reasons that I decided to just take care of business myself .  I could have fought this for sure, contacted the landlord tenant association, read up on the act, learned my legal rights and confronted him with it but I have chosen not to ...for lots of reasons but the most being that my 13 year old son has finally found happiness working on the farm alongside this same landlord and there is no way that I am about to jeopardize that.  It was Kijiji time.

I found an oven listed for $120.00 , offered $100.00 and it was accepted- my friend Laura was so proud of me (she sent me a text  with "Woot! Woot!").This morning I set off with my son and eight year old daughter in tow and went to pick it up.

The house was in a lovely neighbourhood in Waterdown , the kind with big green lawns and lots of potted mums on the steps ( I thought of my own home with two dead mums in pots that had blown over last week and I haven't picked them up yet).  I pulled up to the house and there was a shiny  Acura SUV in the driveway, I parked on the street. The gentlemen of the home came out to meet us and it was at this moment that my son chose to open his door - a gust of wind blew and out flew old  McDonalds bags and napkins, all across the lovely green grass.  I got out, shook his hand and introduced myself and by this time my son, having chased the  McDonalds bags,  opened the back and all the old Wendy's bags  under the floor of the hatch flew out as well.  Aagh!

The oven was sitting in the garage and to my relief it fitted into my vehicle however I then realized that I had made a grave miscalculation. In my rush to get out the door on time I had failed to take into consideration that I would have to put the seats flat to get the oven in which would mean that one of my children would not have a seat.  The gentleman and his wife were clearly doing the mental math as well as they looked at the three of us and then at the two seats left. In the words of my friend Andrea .."Awesome sauce".

This very kind lady and her husband offered to follow me home with my son.  I protested of course but didn't have much of a leg to stand on, they were right, it was the only solution.

As I climbed back into my vehicle, crunching over the McDonald's bags, I had a wave of sadness sweep over me and I had a minute or two where I thought back over all the crappy reasons why I was in this predicament. I enviously looked at the lovely houses, mentally beat myself up for not getting on my kids enough for leaving garbage in the car , felt sorry for myself that I was left to do all this kind of thing on my own without a partner to share the load , to take care of my daughter...the list went on and on. We made it home, I thanked this kind lady profusely as she refused my piddly five dollars to compensate her for gas and she drove off.

Some might end a post like this talking about how rich they are in things other than material wealth, how grateful they are for good health and children and for the fact that they even have a vehicle etc etc.  I am all of those things, believe me.  I count my blessings every day.  I also know that as a parent you are going to accumulate back seat gargbage and I'm fortunate to be even able to buy food...

The purpose of this post is to remind myself as much as to remind you that it is important to validate how hard we are trying despite the challenges.   Sometimes it just 'sucks' (pardon my language).  Instead of beating myself up for not 'being better' or 'stronger' or 'more grateful' I need to keep working on telling myself "yes, today was hard, you felt embarrassed and you had to rely on the kindness of strangers to help you out"

The couple today might have seen me as a single mom who could only afford a used oven and who needs a helping hand.

Today I have reminded myself I am a stong, independent mom who will go to whatever lengths I need to to get things done, a woman  who doesn't do things the way others think she 'should' but uses her wisdom and insight, perseveres and tries her hardest.

I am validating myself.  Some days are just difficult and that's just the way it is. Don't beat yourself up, recognize that you are doing your best.  

Two other lessons that I have learned : fast food garbage doesn't blow away if you bunch it up tight enough and it works to bargain on kijiji 🙂



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About cjw

A mother of three and a survivor of domestic violence, I am passionate about helping women who feel isolated and alone, women who may have children that are profoundly impacted by the trauma of domestic violence and women who need to understand where they can go to get help for themselves and their families. I am a registered nurse who has worked for the last 16 years in a critical care area only to have to flee to a women's shelter and have my whole life changed. I know fear, I know pain and I now know food banks...I'm in good company.


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