She was truly lovely. I noticed her immediately. It was 9am. Orlando Airport. Slightly messy blond pony tail, long sleeve t-shirt and cargo pants, very little makeup, but the brightest smile and love painted entirely across her face.
I followed her eyes as they tracked two little girls – a toddler and one just learning to walk…stepping, falling on her bottom searching upward for mommy and off to explore as soon as she sensed her world was safe again.
It made me smile, remembering those moments – the crazy of following two in the airport, keeping them entertained and happy and the stress of knowing the flight was still to come. I admired her ease, her clear love of her daughters and the pure joy that she seemed to have in simply following them, watching them experience the world around them.
As the girls wandered towards us, the littlest aiming for the closest electronics, mom swiftly intercepted her with a smile and a quick apology.
I smiled back, ‘No apology needed at all. Your girls are beautiful. I remember this time so well.’
She looked right at me, eyes filling with tears, “Thank you for that. I needed to hear that. This woman just came up to me to tell me I’m a terrible mother for letting my youngest crawl on the floor because she’s a nurse and the ground is disgusting”.
I looked right at her and said, “Then let me trump her with this – when we first walked by you I noticed how much you were smiling as you were watching your girls. Clearly they give you joy. And? Your older daughter keeps hugging your littlest one. Teaching them to love each other is amazing. That’s two incredible things you are doing right and two of the most important…so allow those to be the things you remember from today, not what that woman said to you. You are the furthest thing from a terrible mother. You are doing something extraordinary.”
I smiled and pointed to the ground I was sitting on…having given the only two available seats to my children, ‘Clearly, we can survive being on the ground….and we can wash our hands’.
Reminder #1 If you think something kind, say it. You just might have the words someone needs to hear.
I’d by lying if I didn’t tell you it infuriates me to hear that people – strangers – go out of their way to crush the spirits of other’s that way….especially a young mother. I wish I could say that I believed my words WOULD trump what was said to her, but I don’t know that they can erase the hurt of someone telling her she is a terrible mother. That stings. But I can hope.
She smiled. Teary. Grateful.We talked for a moment. All the while keeping an eye on those sweet girls. She IS doing something extraordinary. She ISN’T a terrible mother.
I watched her walk away.
And then my second reminder happened.
Delaney leaned forward and whispered to me, ‘I love to watch you do that, Mommy…..when you inspire people with your words’.
And I started to cry.
I started to cry.
Sure, it’s been a tough week. And I’m emotional.
I managed a smile, a ‘thank you’ and reached out to hug her. She followed it up with, ‘I hope when I’m older I know lots of people like you.’
Gosh, I hope she does too.
Reminder #2 Be the example: Live as the person I want my small people to grow up to be
All day long, I can tell them to be kind. All day long I can try to inspire them with quotes about ‘doing the right thing’, choosing kindness, keeping their chin up, loving their neighbor and treating others as they want to be treated, but nothing, absolutely NOTHING trumps showing them how to treat others.
Just as they see it when I lose my patience with reckless drivers, waiting in line, rude or unkind people….. they see and understand the opposite when I choose to be kinder than necessary.
I’d rather be the good kind of example whenever possible… as my sweet girl proved to me once again, those little eyes and hearts are watching and learning.