The Moment a Complete Stranger Changed My Perspective

It was one of those every day moments. At least it seemed like it until a fellow mom, a complete stranger, stopped me in my tracks and talked some sense into me. We were at the American Girl store celebrating my little girl’s birthday. I was squatting down to take her picture so we could commemorate all the girly goodness of the afternoon. All of a sudden there was this random mom with a stroller and two kids standing next to me.

“Oh, why don’t you let me take a picture of both of you so you can remember this day.” she said sweetly.

Out of habit I awkwardly refused. “Oh…um, no that’s okay. Thanks though.” What I really wanted to say was, “Ugh. Not today. I’m feeling fat and I’m not happy with this hair cut and I know I’ll look enormous standing next to my skinny little daughter. And do you see these black circles under my eyes? They’ll give away how tired and old I’m feeling. I don’t really want my child to look back on this picture some day and see her mom looking so…flawed.”

But this stranger wouldn’t accept my answer. She was actually insisting that I get in the picture with my daughter. I was starting to feel uncomfortable. We went politely back and forth for a few rounds and she was adamant that I take a picture with my daughter. For a moment I thought she was bordering on pushy.

“No, seriously. Just go stand next to her. Just do it.” She said insistently, but still smiling.

Ugh. Fine. Not wanting to make things feel any more uncomfortable I sighed and walked over to pose with my daughter, feeling both annoyed and maybe a little glad that she actually talked me into it.

“Smile. You look great!” she said cheerfully.

Oh my gosh, is she really this sweet? How did she know how I was feeling? Okay, this is clearly a mom who just “get’s it.”

She handed me back my phone and said “There you go. I took a bunch so you can pick your favorite.” She was already starting to push her her stroller away.

“Thank you so much.” I called to her.

She stopped, walked back over to me and gently touched my arm and smiled so incredibly kindly. “I had cancer…So I know how important it is to be in pictures. You’ll be glad you did it.”

Before I could even speak she was walking away with her two young kids in tow.  Everything just stopped for second as I let the significance of what she had just told me sink in. Then I realized I was just standing there with my hand over my heart and a lump in my throat.

It wasn’t a coincidence, it wasn’t just one of those things. It was exactly what I needed to hear. And I got it. I got the message. Thank you, fellow mom for reminding me how lucky I am. I hope you know you made a difference. Whenever I look at this photo I will resist the urge to immediately find the 38 things I don’t like about the way I look. I will think about you. And how you didn’t just capture the day we celebrated my daughter’s birthday. You captured the moment you changed my perspective and my priorities. Life is good.


  1. Cindy Ave'Lallemant says:

    Aren’t those unexpected ‘God Winks’ just the greatest?

    • Great read and great message, the only thing is i can’t find anything wrong with the picture or you!! We all get negative at times, but be careful what you pass onto your children by being so negative about yourself. A positive mindset begets a positive life! LIve on

  2. Leah Springborn says:

    I love this story and I love this message!! It’s amazing how God can bring that 1 person for that 1 moment into your life to remind us how great everything is!! Thank you for sharing

  3. Cathi Hogan says:

    So great to read a new post from you, Marie. I’ve missed you. Thanks for sharing your American Girl memories with all of us. Glad you felt compelled to share this story. Now we can all watch for moments of unexpected life lessons and opportunities to change our perspectives. P.S. I think you look darn cute in the photo!

  4. An amazing message to all moms out there. Thank you for this, it is SO important.

  5. Great advice!! May I have the courage to speak up at such a time.

  6. Jennifer Casazza says:

    She was right, you did look great! 😉

  7. We call this “the age of disappearing moms” because so many of us forget/resist getting in front of the camera. That woman did you a huge favor, and you shared that with all of your readers. BTW, we could so be friends with a blog name like this. Hugs!

  8. I read this and got tears in my eyes! My mom died of cancer when I was young, and I wish that I had more pictures of her. I try to get in pictures with my girls as much as I can, and this is why. Thank you for this post!


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