Good morning, girl. It’s going to be a wonderful day. Are you ready?
I had one of those micro powerful experiences this weekend. You know, the kind of experience that lasts all of two minutes but that you’ll never forget?
I’ve been processing it ever since. Those few minutes have made me grateful for my life this week and made me want to reach out and hug every working mom who’s ever had a horrible day.
I was at Disneyland this weekend. One of my favorite places ever, and quite literally one of the happiest places on earth.
I was walking my beloved and sleeping God daughter up and down a street in her stroller while the rest of my family and friends were at another ride. Twenty perfect, meditative minutes into our little mobile nap, a voice cuts the air just ahead of me.
A mother is screaming at her two year old. I look over. Screaming and shaking that little body. Slamming her into her stoller, still screaming. The child, wide-eyed with fright, looks up at her mom.
I walked over to mom and, who knows, maybe it was God, maybe it was my Zen-like peace after twenty minutes of walking in the sun, but I reached a hand out, touched mom on her shoulder and said, “Hi. I’m a mom too. I know sometimes it’s really hard. Can I help?”
She stops screaming, startled at my touch. “I have kids too,” I repeat, “I know sometimes it just gets really hard. Can I help?”
Mom starts to cry. Tells me a story of a dad who isn’t committed to his family, in-laws trying to come between them, she’s pregnant with twins in addition to the little one in the stroller. She and her mother had come to the park and grandma had taken the older kiddo on a roller coaster. This little one had run away and pregnant mom was cramping and scared of the cramping and scared her husband wouldn’t come back and she’d just gone back to church and was trying to be a Christian but sometimes life is just so hard.
I kept my hand on her shoulder. Encouraged her to drink water in case the cramping was from dehydration in the heat. Listened. Told her I knew she was a good person. Told her I knew she could do this. Told her that I would pray for her. Frankly, I’m not sure what all I said, but her body relaxed.
I talked to little one in the stroller who was staring at us, trying to decide if she should still be scared or not. I looked down and spoke to her too, comforting tone, smile, what’s your name honey. Mom talks to daughter. Daughter looks at mom. Finally a smile.
I hugged that pregnant mom and repeated that I would pray for her and that we all had really hard days sometimes and that I knew she was strong enough to keep going. She thanked me and we parted, never to see each other again, I’m sure.
And I haven’t been able to stop thinking about her. She reminded me of my own frailty. The time during my own divorce when I was screaming at my own two year old. He didn’t want me to go to work. I didn’t want to go to work either, but I had to. And his dad had just moved out and taken half the furniture with him. And I was terrified I didn’t have the strength to get through another day and all I wanted to do was stay home and curl up with my child and instead I had to go out and make money to buy groceries and keep the house.
Life can be so hard sometimes.
There was a beautiful woman who stepped in during my worst day and reminded me that I could be a better mom, that I needed to be a better mom. My newly hired and gorgeously brave young nanny. I’ll be forever grateful to her.
Life can be so hard sometimes and we just cannot do it alone.
I will keep praying for pregnant mom. I hope you will too.
Because if you are going to live a life, there will be those moments of just about losing it. There will be you at your worst. And there will be you, coming back from the brink and vowing to be a better person.
The dance, the journey, the hard school of real life.
You can do it. And some day, when it’s you who sees a woman at her breaking point, you’ll help her through it.
It’s what we do.