To the childless woman at Walmart…
I saw you as we stood together in check out lane number three. I was holding the precious hand of my foster child and trying to talk her out of the ring pops and candy bars. We made eye contact, you and me, before you smiled at her and then looked down at your feet. My heart sank when I saw the look in your eyes. I know that look. I have seen it in my reflection. I know all to well the thoughts and emotions you have in these types of moments. Especially the moment when she called me mommy. Oh how I wished you hadn’t heard. I cringed as I watched you grip your cart tighter because I knew what you felt. You felt fear sweep over you like a tsunami wave as you wondered if you would ever carry the title “mommy.” You felt doubt wrap you up like a blanket as you questioned your life and the desires you have in your heart. And you felt shame as you thought you must have done something awful to deserve this form punishment. This punishment to not have a child. A child to call your own.
There were so many times in those three minutes that you and I stood together in which I wanted to lean in and whisper in your ear. I wanted to tell you that I understood your pain. Your doubts. Your fears. Your insecurities. And I wanted you to know that you are not alone. Because I know the longing you have in your heart. I know the words that are probably in your nightly prayers. I know the dreams you dream that feel shattered and the plans you have made that seem pointless. I know them.
Because I know all too well what it is like to wait for those two lines. I know what it is like to hear the words, “You will miscarry.” And I know what it feels like to doubt your faith. And question your dreams. And to lose hope. But then to walk the long heavy road back to hope. So I get it. I know.
But that’s not all I wished I had told you. I wished I had leaned in and whispered that you are not forgotten. I know it felt that way when you listened to her giggle as I tickled the back of her neck, but God sees you. He hasn’t cast you away. He hasn’t forgotten you. He also isn’t mad at you. Or ignoring you. I know it feels that way as each month your prayers seem to go unanswered. But just like Hannah did in the Bible, keep pouring your soul out to Him. Keep coming to Him with your hurts. Because He hears the cries of your heart and even though you can’t see Him working, He is. He isn’t twiddling His thumbs or taking a break from your problems. He wouldn’t do that. He wouldn’t birth the dream of you one day being called “mommy” if He wasn’t making plans to see it come true. So don’t lose hope. And don’t hold back those tears I know you will shed when you finally reach your car. It’s okay to let them fall. Because not one tear will drop without it landing safely in the palm of His hand.
I wished I had told you all of these things. I wished I would have shared with you my heart. But I didn’t. Instead I watched you turn your cart around and with tears in your eyes, move to another line–a much longer line. And it was in the moments that followed, while waiting for my turn, that I realized I couldn’t let you leave. I couldn’t let you go home with the image of a happy mother and daughter. The image of a perfect family. And so I needed to find you. I needed to tell you my story. I needed you to know that you are not alone. You are not an outcast, a leper, that no one understands. You are not a product of your past mistakes nor are you being punished for your past sins. I needed you to know that. And I needed you to know that despite your loose grip, you should still fight to hold on to your dreams.
But as I looked around and searched the checkout lanes and roamed the parking lot, I realized you were gone. You were gone and with you carried that painful image. And what you will never know is that your perception of my reality, is still my dream. And the pain you have, I know.
So to the childless woman at Walmart, the one in check out lane number three, I may not know your name and I may not have been able to wrap my arms around you and ease your worries, silence your fears, or give you new hope for your dreams or more faith to watch them grow; but I know the One who does and I know the One who can and I know the One who is willing. So don’t give up on Him. Don’t stop pouring out your heart and bringing Him your tears. And please, don’t let go of the dreams He has placed in that soft, fertile soil of your heart. Hold on to them tight. But if you do feel them slipping and you need someone to give you encouragement to keep holding on, then let me. Because I have faith to believe that your story isn’t finished yet. And that one day, through Him, you will hear the precious voice of a child, your child, call you Mommy as you stand waiting in check out lane number three.
Until then my friend, I will continue to look for you. I will continue to scan the aisles. And I will continue to pray that the precious voice and sweet giggles of a little one begging you for a ring pop or candy bar or that nasty sour punch liquid that is sticky and just gets everywhere, is not too far away.
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76 thoughts on “To the Childless Woman at Walmart”
Your posts often move me to tears … I’ve been that woman that swaps lanes to protect her heart a smidge (we mostly all have I’m sure) and just reading this today has given me the added perspective of remembering never to assume at face value the path anyone walks … Thank you
I too have been that woman that avoids aisles or swaps lanes…so when I saw the look in her eyes and then watched as she moved a few lanes over…I just knew. There was no hiding it. My heart broke for her :/
Isn’t it reassuring to know so much about a persons journey just through a shared expression and commonality. Synchronicity will hopefully cross your paths again in the future so you can give her that squeeze of comfort and reassurance
Gah. Totally crying at my desk. Thanks a lot. 🙂 I have been both the woman with the child and the woman at checkout lane three. And now that I have a child, but so desperately want another, I feel like both women at the same time…if that makes any sense at all! But anyway, lovely post. I needed it today.
Totally makes sense! Because even though I have Goldilocks (even if temporarily) I still feel like the woman at check out lane number 3. It’s such a weird place and feeling, isn’t it?
I understand your feelings, as a foster momma of 5, it is easy to see my family from the outside and see nothing but joy, but everyday is a struggle to not feel like the women at check out lane 3
What a beautiful post. I have been that woman (and still am some days..and I’m sure still will be at some days to come) in lane 3 and what is beautiful about this encounter is that, whether she knew it or not, even if she cries and feels like the brief encounter was a sad and lonely part of her day…it was a gift from God. Because now she has another soul praying for her in you…and many more in everyone who reads your words! That tiny little encounter gave you the opportunity to send up all these wonderful prayers for this woman whose pain so many of us feel or have felt. And she may never know it came from you, but she will certainly feel the peace of all those added prayers 🙂 God Bless!
You know, I never thought about it like that. You have just brought me to tears (happy tears). Because ever since I saw her, I have felt so bad and almost guilty. But because of your sweet comment, I have a new perspective. I shouldn’t feel guilty but honored to have seen her and to have seen her pain. Because you are right, she has prayers going up that she might not have had otherwise. Thank you! xo
This is beautiful about being placed by God that we might pray for someone who is also suffering with infertility. During our last IVF cycle, when we went in for our embryo transfer, (which ended in a miscarriage at approximately 6 weeks) I noticed a women crying in the surgery waiting room. I just thought ‘oh no, she has lost her baby’, and I prayed to God she would have her baby, yet’. I don’t know her name, how long she has waited, if it was her last shot or her first at IVF. If it is her first longed for baby or her second or third. I just know, that I ended up feeling just like her and crying just like her. And when I did I end up in the place of loss I remembered her again and I prayed that she would get her baby. And I keep remembering this dear woman that I don’t know, that maybe God let me see, so I could pray that she would get her baby, from the depth of my heart. My husband was with me and I told him about her after we lost our baby, but he didn’t remember her.
Your post had my crying in the first paragraph. You have no idea how much I needed this today. Thank you for writing this. Thank you.. <3
oh girl you are so welcome! I needed this post just as much as the next girl I think. Because most days (if not all) I feel like both women. :/
This just proves again that we never really know what is going on in someones life or what their story is. It’s so sweet of you to have noticed her in the first place and now we can all pray for her 🙂
Yes we can 🙂 And I’ll be honest, I have my antenna out for moments like these. And it’s not on purpose. It’s as if I’m always fearful of hurting other women because I know what it’s like to have a really bad emotional day and see the picture perfect family. And I never want to bring that kind of pain to any person. Breaks my heart.
Another amazing post. I saw a woman buy a stack of opks in the dollar store a few months ago. I wanted to reach out to her but didnt have the courage to do so
This post was just too beautiful. I feel so sad you didn’t find the woman in aisle 3, but please know you have touched our hearts, my heart. <3 The hearts of the women you believe will one day be mommies. The women you pray for. The women who read your blog and feel comfort in your words. When there are hard days, sad days, days we want to cry and give up–you are there. You are there with your words of faith and encouragement that give us (ME) hope that in His time, He will bless us with a miracle. Thank you. xoxo
Wow…. Reading with tears streaming my face. Boy have I been there watching moms & their children, wondering if that’ll ever be me? As always , Thank you for sharing your heart and for being so sensitive to that woman’s heart. I’m continuously praying for you , your hubby & your precious baby bird & now I’ll add the woman at walmart to my prayer list. God bless u!
Oh thank you so much Tress for your prayers. Praying for others in similar situations of ourselves is so important to God and I know He will honor you for it. Xoxo
You write so eloquently and exactly the words from my heart. Your compassion is refreshing.
Oh thank you Alexandria. Xoxo
I have a feeling we weren’t in the same WalMart tonight but I felt what the lady that was behind you in line 3 felt. Thank you for your blog, it touches my heart in more ways than you can imagine.
Oh girl I am so sorry. I think we have all been that woman in check out three more than we can count. Praying for you RIGHT now sugars that the desires of your heart will be fulfilled and that while you wait, peace overwhelms you and wrap you up like a warm blanket. Xo
Tonight as I sit at home having a pity party, pondering my next IUI, and whether or not it will be successful, this is exactly what I needed to read. Sometimes it just feels good to know that I’m not alone in this struggle, and somewhere out there, someone else knows exactly how I feel. The yearning, wondering, worrying, hoping, all of the ups and downs of yet another month’s cycle. Thank you for always being so positive and encouraging.
Ahhh…thank you so much for reading and commenting Sara. I am praying for you right now that the desires of your heart will soon be fulfilled! xoxox
to the woman at the Walmart….I pray that you can open your heart to the child God has for you!! I am the birth Mom of 3 wonderful grown ladies, I am the adoptive Mom of 3 amazing little boys, a set of twins and the sweetest little 4 year from a different family….If your heart is longing for a child…have you given your heart to God to direct it! My 3 sons were all foster children…they were born to women who were not able to provide a home for them….I could judge these women…call them unfit…but I am not their judge…I know not their circumstances but this I know God loves every child… the perfect child, the abused child, mentally handicap, and physical handicap…to those of you who want to adopt and only want a perfect child shame on you….did Christ not die for you…knowing all the sin we took part in…our twins were 22 mo when they came to our home…the moment they were in my arms…I loved them…God gave them to us, just as God gave us daughters…our 4 year old …we picked him up at the hospital when he was 2 days old…the lady from the agency said this to me when she called ” we have no homes” I said I am old and work full time…she said again “we have no homes” …when I told my husband…he said this…”I read this morning Matthew 25, verse 35 stood out this morning, something came to me…I asked the Lord, what do you have planned for me?” 8 hours later the call came…my husbands words to me…”call them, tell them we’ll take that baby…how much more could a baby be hungry, and he is homeless, how much more naked can a newborn be?” when picked him our baby up, 2 days later…43 & 44 years old…with not one piece of baby supplies in our home….God provided all we needed…each and everyday…our son was technically a “foster child” according to the laws of the land…but to us he is God’s child…he is adopted into our family…just as Christ has adopted us into his family so that we may call him brother…into which there is not higher calling!
If you are a woman and your heart longs for the words Mommy…open your mind…we our God’s children full of earthly flaws !… these children from another Mother…are children who have been neglected, abused, born handicapped ….take those children into your hearts and homes…my heart has no more love for me birth children than my adopted children,,,. I plead to all who are able …feed these children, give them homes, provide them clothes…share the gospel with them…they have suffered enough…do not wait for the perfect child to come…there is only one perfect child …who are we to expect that we should have only the take the flawless.
I don’t know the woman at walmart and I do not know her story. For all I know, she could be on a waiting list to adopt…or going through the steps to foster…or perhaps she has terminal cancer and can’t have children of her own or want to adopt in fear they would later be without a mother. I may never know. All I can do is pray for her.
And thank you so much for sharing you story 🙂 and you are so right…no child is perfect.
Dixie you say you’re not the judge of the women who neglect their children etc, but yet you are being the judge of women who desire and long to have children of their own. You don’t know the struggles that any of us go through who so desperately want to fulfill the desire of our heart as a women, that God, the only true judge placed into our hearts before we were ever conceived. Of course you don’t you got pregnant and carried to term 3 children of your own. So what led you to have 3 children of your own before you ever decided to foster/adopt? Why did you pursue yourself to have your own children when there are so many children out there that need a loving home? Why didn’t you adopt before being selfish and having three children of your own? It is because of that same desire that was placed into your heart that God placed into ours. So shame on you for judging any women who is struggling to conceive. And yes, you are judging, judging is making an assumption about someone before knowing the circumstances and you do not know the circumstances of any woman who is struggling to conceive or the reasons they haven’t adopted/fostered. So perhaps Dixie it is you that needs to get your heart right and give it over to God so He can direct it on how to be compassionate and understanding to the pain and hurt of women who are unable to bare their own children. I will be praying for you.
My comments were made after reading the post on someone’s blog that didn’t want to adopt or have foster children because she didn’t want a different race or a child with defects, to have your own child does not guarantee no defects!….you are correct that I do not know the emptiness of not bearing a child….but to make the comments we don’t want a child with issue’s. ..the child with issues is loved by God as much as those without. I have a close friend who lost 2 babies while I carried 2 of my babies. ..my heart was broken for her…I felt so unworthy to have my with no complications. ..God lead her to foster care, later adoption. ..her comments were she couldn’t stop the pain and emptiness of her arms, until she adopted a child. That child had been abused so bad that his little 6 week old body was shutting down …we are to love as Christ loves with no respect of person. ..I am sorry for your lost of carrying your own child..through a open heart and mind God can fill that emptiness with a fullness that is over flowing that others will also be affected
Thank you so much for your heartfelt response Dixie. Hugs to you 🙂
this is a beautiful post. It brought me to tears. May God bless you with a baby one day soon.
Ah thank you so much!!! Xo
I love the reminder of God not forgetting any of us and your other reminders as well. This is so so beautiful.
Thank you so much Jennifer! It is so comforting to know He is always with us and watching over us. Xo
So mant of us have been and still are that woman in lane 3. Your compassion to understand everyones unique path is admiral to sat the least.
This is so beautiful! Thank you, thank you, thank you! J
Ah thanks Justine! By the way…I had a crazy dream with you in it last night. You were watching two kids (foster kids). And pretended to be their grandma cause you had to take them to the doctor…? Like I said, crazy dream! It was clear I had too much cold medicine before bed.
Elisha, Oh my god. I am just sobbing. So beautifully written and so moving. Bless you for trying to find her. May her worries and fears be wiped clean. Sending love!
Shhhh thanks sugars!!! And may I just say…I love your blog! I always find myself smiling when I read. And you are always in my prayers! Xoxoxo
We’ll be foster parents soon and I look forward to looking like the “perfect family” as I’m buying little kid clothes, teddy grahams, and sippy cups… But it’ll all be pretend, won’t it? I fear seeing someone else’s “perfect family” and it reminding me that mine isn’t real. I’ll probably be hoping and praying with every foster child that comes through our home that we’ll be able to adopt them, cause then my fantasy family can be a reality, you know?
I had a similar experience at a restaurant this morning. I did a woman’s makeup this summer for her wedding. She told me she was forty and trying to get pregnant but was having a lot of issues. She was worried that she wouldn’t be able to conceive due to unexplained infertility. I shared my struggle with her and we connected. I saw her this morning, still without a baby bump and looking very discouraged. I smiled at her as I sat there with my twins, but my heart really hurt for her. I wanted to reach out and hug her and tell her not to lose hope. xoxo
Your compassion is amazing and your words are compelling.
Oh wow Evangeline! Your compliment means so much to me!! Thank you!
You need to write a book 🙂 So much compassion in your writing!!!
Ah thanks girl but I seriously doubt I could write a book… Unless two pages could count. Lol
Once again, you have blown me away with your words. You are such a brilliant writer. I love reading all of your work. Thank you for sharing this. I’m all flustered with emotions because your words allowed me to feel her pain with her.
Thank you Laura for your sweet words! Please know that you and your hubby are always in my thoughts and prayers. Your story isn’t finished yet and I am believing your grand finale…is going to be nothing short of amazing because that is the type of God we serve. Xo
Thank you for your prayers, Elisha! I couldn’t agree more with you that our story will be amazing. Yours will be, too, and we will spend eternity basking in the wonderfulness of His glory. I am glad that I have someone like you by my side to walk this journey. *Hugs*
I totally just balled my eyes out while reading this. You have such a gift for writing and connecting with people through story telling and metaphors. Thank you for sharing your heart and your incredible faith with us through this blog
I have been that woman too. and I have wished to find nice understanding words as these so many times. I hope many will find this post. xx
This made me cry. I felt like you were talking to me. <3
You have such a way with words. I love your poste
Ahhh thank you sugars!! Xo!
Such a beautiful post. You definitely have a way with words. You are so sweet to be sensitive and observant of her. I know she feels your prayer for her!
The Mrs. &Co.
ahhh thank you so much for your sweet words girl!! xo
Oh, how this post made me cry. I have been on both sides… the woman in line 3, and also the woman who sees others looking at me with my daughter, longing for what I have. And they don’t know I had to struggle to conceive her, to fight to keep her alive in my womb… and yet, I’m on both sides of the fence even know. I have me little girl and this deep pain that a family member is missing. Beautiful post!
This is unrelated to this post, but I am tagging you in a Q&A post going live tomorrow (Wednesday)!
Oh girl you totally can relate to this post in so many ways. :/ Which only makes you such an incredible person to be able to show empathy to so many women. I truly believe that what the enemy is trying to mean for your harm, God is using for your good and His glory. xoxo
And I can’t wait to be tagged!! So exciting!
this touched my heart so much. Thank you. Maybe not the lady you saw that day but I am the childless woman at the checkout line. Your encouragement has blessed me tonight and for that I am greatful ❤️
Ahh Cierra, I am so sorry that you have had the same thoughts and emotions. Please know that I said a prayer for you tonight! xo
I must be the only guy posting here, but here we go. I have a few points to make.
1. Throwing around statements like “god is watching you suffer but he’s working on it” is really insulting to anyone with a decent sense of morality or any common sense. It’s degrading and honestly how can you claim to know what a fantasy storybook character is thinking and planning? That sounds insane. Do you also tell kids how much the tooth fairy is saving up to pay little kids? Same story different names.
2. What if that girl looked at you funny thinking “holy shit she had a ton of kids who are obnoxious, I am glad to have no kids and be living my own life independent of that bs,I need to change lanes because i can’t stand being around these stupid brats begging for shitty candy their mom never taught them was bad for them.”
This post is complete shit and everyone is eating it up… lol. It’s obviously fake, written to get clicks and emotional women to say “omg I’ve been there I’m crying now”.
Hahahaha! Thanks for commenting 🙂 And I love your second point!! Goes to show you didn’t actually “read” the article…I had ONE kid with me. Not a “ton” of kids. And it’s okay to have your opinion. That’s fine. I hope you have a good day as I will with mine.
Never mind, you’ll never post my comment. Good job being a closed minded idiot. I’m sorry. Sorry I wasted my intelligence on your bullshit site.
Not everyone wants kids, you make people without kids seem like some heathens who need sympathy. On the contrary I find all the people I see with lots of children to be the ones who need sympathy. Their lives are so meaningless they need to justify it by having kids. That’s just sad. I fully enjoy my life without children, so stop implying we are the ones who need your sympathy. It’s quite the opposite.
Once again…thanks for commenting. Not sure why you thought I wouldn’t post your comment? And why you thought I was a closed minded person? And why are you assuming and judging people who have lots of kids that their lives are so meaningless they just want kids? Hmmm…you say I am judging that woman in front of me but it sounds like you make assumptions too? Also, I am happy for you that you enjoy life without children. I really am. I have two really good friends who are childless on purpose. Nothing wrong with that. But this post and this blog is not for people who want to be childless…hence the reason you didn’t like it and didn’t understand it. So thanks for stopping by…but ya might wanna move on 🙂
I wish I had someone to share my pain with. I wish that there was someone to comfort me when the tears fall when I am shopping. I wish that I could believe, really believe, that God has good things planned for me, but there is just so much pain and so much loneliness. Thank you for your posts. They make me feel a little less alone. Above all I feel that you deeply understand. Thank you for that.
oh, hun! I am so sorry for your pain! And please know that God does have good plans for your. He birthed the desires in your heart and He is working and weaving to make them grow. In moments of doubt and uncertainty, I always start reading in the New Testament. I read about how Jesus lived His life and how He walked around doing only good. He never brought pain. He never brought with Him sickness or death. He never gave it to anyone or walked away from someone hurting. Instead He always had compassion. He always healed. He always restored. He always spoke words of life and love and hope. That same Jesus is for you today. He isn’t against you. Lots of love to you sugars! xo
It’s amazing how God works through believers and believers online. I came across this post through a Google search. I had a miscarriage in July 2014 and am currently struggling with infertility. After I read your letter, I was moved to tears. I then glanced at the date when you wrote this post. This was my baby’s due date, February 5, 2015. That date will never leave me and I believe the Holy Spirit moved in me and God wanted me to read this and look at that date. Thank you, Elisha. God bless you and all who are in our similar situations.
I always feel like you are talking directly to me, & most posts end with me sobbing, but it’s so nice to know someone else out there who understands!!!
This is a wonderful and important post. However, there is sometimes more to it than that, as I am sure you are aware. I am a Christian believer, and I have been for more than 35 years. I am also the woman who changes lanes at the store, and the one who stays away from church on Mother’s Day. Over the 15 years that we have been married (PTL!), I have slowly been forced to accept that there will be no child to call me Mom–born to us or adopted–ever. Due to medical conditions before I ever met my husband, I had no choice but to have a hysterectomy. When we married at age 40 and 41, I had hope that we could adopt, but not one agency would work with us because we were over their age limit and far, far below their income requirements–not even the agency that is partnered with our own church family.
So, no matter how much I pray or how much God loves us, He is not going to suddenly replace a functioning womb in my over-fifty, post-menopause body. And if no adoption agency would work with me at 40, there’s absolutely no chance that one will work with me now at fifty-five. I am glad that your post has encouraged so many to continue to hope for that “precious voice”, but for some of us, that voice will never be, and we have to continue in faith to keep our hearts open for God to lead us in a different direction besides parenthood.
I am so sorry for your heartache. It truly breaks mine. 🙁 I have to ask though…was fostering also out of the question? Even if those children did not remain in your home foever at least you could still give them a piece of your mothering heart? Many women that I know began fostering in their 50s and 60s. Also, out of curiosity (because I have no clue) what is the income requirement to adopt?
They never told us how much $$$$$$$ we needed to have; they just looked at our combined income and said that our “living situation was unstable due to financial insecurity.” Both of us are working and have paying jobs, by the way–he as a technician and software developer, I as adjunct faculty at a city college. The fostering option was never offered to us by those organizations. So, all I can understand is that God has closed that door for reasons only He knows. The way the system is rigged, you have to be rich to adopt, or start a crowdfunding appeal like a young couple of my acquaintance, so for many couples that’s not an option.
Anyway, I don’t mean to cast a shadow of negativity, or rain on anyone’s joy. I only replied because your words hit a nerve with me. If I may suggest, telling childless women “that one day, through Him, you will hear the precious voice of a child, your child, call you Mommy…” may not be the wisest thing to say, as if remaining childless were our own fault for not having enough faith or enough prayers (though I’m certain that isn’t what you meant to imply). In fact, the only desire or need that God has unequivocally promised to satisfy is the desire for Himself alone. As C.S. Lewis famously said, “He is not a tame lion,” and in the end, His will, and not ours, is what will be done. Blessings on you and light on your path.
As a former child welfare specialist, I would venture to say your income would have been more than sufficient to adopt and/or foster. It’s upsetting they would tell you that. If it’s still a desire of yours, look into a different agency for fostering. Adoption and foster care agencies are not the same. And the income requirement is totally different. My friend makes less than 25,000 a year and she fosters. Thank you for your insight on everything 🙂 I truly appreciate it.
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