There was something about the way she looked at me, the elderly woman across the way. Her gaze a familiar stare as I waddled through the grocery store check out lane. My apprehension must have been radiating as I neared the exit, a large buggy full of groceries and even larger baby bump expanding in the south Louisiana summer heat. As I reached to finagle the door, all while juggling the buggy and trying to avoid bumping my belly, her wrinkled hand reached out gracefully to assist. An understanding smile emerged on her face, calming me as she caught the door and helped me to my car. Her act of kindness stopped me in my tracks. With all of the gentlemen entering and exiting the store, none offered a helping hand as I struggled with my heavy loads. It took an elderly lady to come to my rescue. Who would have thought? Few words were spoken between us, but her message was profound. She had been where I was, she understood.
Let’s face it, pregnancy can make you feel uncomfortable. I’m not referring solely to the physical symptoms but body image effects as well. Add in the stress of juggling life’s demands with a sprinkle of scorching summer heat and you have yourself a recipe for a top notch pity party. While internally wallowing in my own frustration and self doubt, her kindness set me free from life’s chaos. It was refreshing to feel like I wasn’t alone in my struggle.
I should have known, of course, who better to understand than a woman that has walked this path before me? The women who we call mom and grandma, they too had weak moments. But honestly, I don’t recall many. They kissed our busted knees, dusted us off, and got us right back on solid ground. Metaphorically, just how the lady in the grocery store had done for me that day.
How honored I am to follow in the footsteps of the women before us. To feel the blossoming of new life wiggle within. To quietly rock a babe at 2 a.m. until heavy eyes flutter back to sleep. To kiss scraped elbows and give warm hugs after tears have fallen, just as they did. They have molded us into the mothers we have become. Their grace carried us through childhood, and now their wisdom keeps us steady in adulthood.
Though I didn’t catch her name, and most likely will not have the pleasure of seeing her again, I hope she knows the impact she made. The most simple of gestures spoke to me deeply. I hope one day I’m given the opportunity to pay her kindness forward. To reach out to a young mother who is in need of a kind touch from a woman who has walked before her.