Heading into Target with kids is never a quick and easy run, but when this busy mom of four popped into her local store to do her shopping, it started out as any other trip.
Erin Bennett lives in Bristow, Virginia with her four kids, two boys and two girls, who range in age from 9-years-old to 5-months-old. She is a registered nurse, who has been a stay-at-home mom for the past few years.
"When I quit my job to stay home with the kids, I decided to give up little extras,'' Bennett said.
She had her two youngest with her, a 2 year-old daughter and 5-month-old son, when she stopped in at the Target and quickly started to fill her cart with groceries and other necessities for her family.
Along the way she grabbed a pumpkin spice candle and some makeup for herself, but when she got to the checkout, she realized she was over her budget and gave the rejected items to the cashier to put back.
“I’ll always pass by the beauty section and grab something and hope that I budgeted and the coupons give me a little extra so I can buy what I wanted to get for myself,” the 29-year-old mom said. “But I usually end up putting it back.”
That's when something out of the ordinary happened.
A stranger behind her in line, overheard her conversation with the cashier and offered to buy the discarded items for her.
“We had been chatting in the line. I had told him I felt so bad he only had one item because I had a cart full of kids and groceries,” says Bennett.“But he didn’t mind.”
The older gentleman, who she describes as a man with grey hair and a grey beard, immediately stepped up when she fell short on being able to buy her luxury items.
“I said I couldn’t let him do that, but he insisted and said, ‘You deserve something for yourself.’ Then the cashier grabbed the items and let the man swipe his card before I could say no again,” she said.
The man paid about $30 for her extra items not knowing what a difference he just made in her day.
"It was definitely shocking because that's just not something people do every day,'' Bennett said. "You get conditioned to all this stuff that's going on in the news, and you don't expect something so generous."
That's when the mom started to tear up at the man's kindness.
“I’m going to give you a squishy baby hug. Is that okay?” she said.
She had her baby strapped to her chest, but still managed to give the kind stranger a hug.
What the stranger didn't know, is the mom-of-four was suffering from postpartum depression. She uses scents as a way to boost her mood, so him buying the candle for her meant more to her than he could ever know.
“I was diagnosed with postpartum when my second child was 7 months old,” she says. “My doctor mentioned making sure to take a little time for myself to do something nice for myself — like making sure I get my shower every evening, alone without a kid with me. And I like to use scent, I’m huge on scent, it totally boosts my mood.”
Post-partum depression has been affecting her life and how she is able to parent her children.
"It's definitely been difficult because (post-partum depression) makes you question whether you're doing everything right and being the best parent you can be,'' she said. "It's just been important to find time for myself, whether that's getting to a therapy appointment or taking a bath with the scented candles."
Later that night, after sharing her sweet story with her husband, she took to Facebook in the hopes to find the man and give him more recognition for his kindness.
“To the man in line behind me at the Gainesville Target, who saw that after hitting my grocery budget limit I decided to put back my Pumpkin Spice candle and the makeup I had picked out,” she wrote. “You didn’t know that I always save my stuff for last and usually end up putting it back. You didn’t know that the two fussy kids I had with me, were only two out of four. You didn’t know that I have postpartum depression from the youngest baby and that I use scent as a way to boost my mood.”
“You saw me as human, not just the mom in front of you that was distracted and going way too slow. You heard me to say that I’d like to put those items back and you said you were getting them. You didn’t take no for an answer,” she continued. “You told me I deserved it when I started to tear up.
“You Sir, are the good in the world. You made my day, probably my week, and I WILL pay it forward. Thank you so much for your kind heart and words.”
Her post has since gone viral, but she hasn't been able to track down the stranger yet.
“I haven’t found him,” she says. “He either doesn’t have social media or he’s actually an angel.”